The Last Witch Hunter Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Michael Caine, Elijah Wood. Directed by Breck Eisner. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.
If you thought witches quietly mixed potions and cast spells in their hovels, think again. The witches in The Last Witch Hunter make a great deal of howling, crunching, clattering noise. The screen twitches and jumps along with it, in a great mess of jumbled, inky images and globby, writhing digital tree branches, or tendrils, or whatever they’re supposed to be. In the prologue, an evil witch queen falls under the blade of warrior Kaulder (Vin Diesel) and curses him to eternal life. Eight hundred years later, he—of course—hunts witches.
The one-dimensional bad guys snarl and cackle and fight the one-dimensional hero; Diesel plays a version of his Fast and Furious character Dominic Toretto, an ultra-cool know-it-all who doesn’t need any help and is no fun to be around; sidekicks Rose Leslie and Elijah Wood have to try pretty hard. Yet the material is so paltry that not even Michael Caine can work his actorly magic (it recalls his helpless flailing in Jaws: The Revenge). Director Breck Eisner is known in some circles as the man behind one of the biggest money-losers in Hollywood history, 2005’s Sahara. Perhaps Eisner is cursed; this humorless sludge-fest is just a loser, period.