The Last Witch Hunter (2015): Good Actors Can’t Save This Script

The Last Witch Hunter Poster

    “The Last Witch Hunter” isn’t good, it isn’t so bad it’s good…but it does have what could have been a good film within it if it had handled things differently than it did. There is a great cast here and it feels like a Vin Diesel passion project. For what it’s worth I didn’t hate it, but it was a bad film.

    The film was directed by Breck Eisner. and written by Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless and produced by Mark Canton and Bernie Goldmann.

    The story involves Kaulder who defeats the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) and is cursed with immortality in the process. In the present the With Queen’s followers are attempting resurrect her and it is up to Kaulder and the Dolan (26th played by Caine, 27th by Wood) to stop him.

The Pros: The World – The idea of Witches being born of another species is kind of cool. It gives them a faerie vibe especially as they specialize in nature spells in most of what they do and the Witch Queen functions in a tree and connecting people like roots.

Okay: The Actors – The actors all do alright, but the cons drive them down and keep their performances from being great.

Vin Diesel – His Kaulder has two emotions, fearless and fearful and nothing in-between. This is largely the fault of the script more than anything else so Diesel becomes an actor more wooden than Groot.

Rose Leslie – Ygritte from “Game of Thrones” is sassy in this as as the rebel witch but her character is never given any motivation. She owns a magic bar that she loses when the Witch Queen’s minion destroys it but that is about it. She is there to be rescued and the love interest.

Michael Caine – He is the 26th Dolan who is protecting and advising Kaulder and also lies to him as they keep the Witch Queen’s heart which is why she’s still alive. He is nearly killed by her minions but Kaulder saves him and we learn he was going to tell Kaulder the truth. Still only okay as a character though.

The Cons: The Script – The writing is terrible and makes George Lucas look great by comparison. It hurt to listen too as we are given so much tell and not any show and the tell isn’t even told that well.

The 27th Dolan – Elijah Wood does an obvious betrayal and there is nothing that can save it, this is one of his worst performances.

The Witch Queen – Her hatred of humanity is never fully explained and she just wasn’t all that threatening or scary.

The Special Effects – The cinematography isn’t unique or special in any way and there is nothing that keeps this from being a made for tv film.

  This was a film that is really forgettable, it’s enjoyable the times the idea of the world comes through but there is so much bringing it down, especially the writing. It is easily one of the worst films I have watched this year.

Final Score: 3 / 10

In Bruges (2008): A Tragic Quest for Redemption

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“In Bruges” was a film that was recommended to me by a friend, and I got to say it didn’t disappoint. I’ll get into what I liked and disliked about in the assessment, but for now this is one of the most beautiful films in regards to cinematography.

“In Bruges” was directed and written by Martin McDonagh and produced by Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin.

The story is that of hitmen. Two hitmen named Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are sent to Bruges by their boss Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) after Ray accidentally kills a kid during a hit job. From here the story unfolds as Ray wrestles with his guilt and the world around him unfolds.

Here as my assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Cinematography – Visually, this is a stunning movie. The use of fog and light are used to capture how grey the characters are morally and emotionally through the film, and even ties to the end with the mystery of what finally happened.

The Music – The music is also reflective it shows us the dilemmas Ray faces as he considers taking his own life, and Ken has when Harry orders the hit. It is a stunning soundtrack and one I plan to use for writing in the future. Carter Burwell’s use of the piano made this soundtrack a masterpiece.

Chloe – Chloe is Ray’s love interest and the one showing him a reason to live as she’s been in deep with gangs and drugs herself and they help give each other direction and higher purpose beyond themselves. As her ex-boyfriend is a thief. She’s a very beautiful, kind and complex character. Poesy is fantastic in the role.

Jimmy – Is a drug addict Dwarf from the United States, who is in Bruges as part of a film. He has racist tendencies and thinks there will be a race war between whites and everyone else. When he is called on it by Ken who had a black wife who was murdered by a white man he changes his tune. He blames his racism later on the cocaine, but he seems to have learned from Ken. Ken really is the moral center of the film. Jordan Prentice is a great actor and I want to see him in more films.

Ken – Ken is the moral core of the film. While Ray reacts and tries to escape from his actions, Ken is always facing them. We see this in his love of history as he is the one taking in the sights and history of Bruges and really appreciating the place. He owes a lot to Harry the mob boss as Harry avenged his wife (in a deleted Harry played by Matt Smith does it) so you get the life debt he owes and why he doesn’t hold Harry killing him against him and uses the last of his will to give Ray a gun and warn him that Harry is in town. At one point he is about to kill Ray when Ray is about to kill himself so he changes his mind, saves Ray and gets him out of town. It is here that he chooses to make the right choice rather than stay a killer, which leads to why Harry tries to kill him later. Brendon Gleeson is wonderful in this role.

Harry Waters – This guy is the clear set moral mob boss. “You don’t kill kids.” Is his philosophy in regards to when he does hits, it doesn’t matter if it’s accidental or not, the person who does it will pay, even if it is him. We see the reasons why since he has a family and children of his own and this sets the stage of him killing himself after he accidentally kills a kid into perspective. He’s a character true to his word. Ralph Feinnes shows is acting depth and range again with this character.

Ray – Colin Farrell shows why he won an award for this film…from his hate of Bruges, love of Chloe, nihilistic escapism and confronting his guilt when he almost takes his life in the park while watching kids play. We never know if he dies at the end, we just know he doesn’t want to die in Bruges. He fucking hates Bruges and describes it as being in Hell for an eternity if he dies here. We’re left wondering if he’ll ever find redemption as so far he’s either been running or lost in guilt. This theme pervades the film. 

Cons: The First Third – The first third of the movie is really slow, it’s before we meet Jimmy and Chloe and the backstories of our characters haven’t been fully revealed yet. It goes on way too long and could have been cut since when it picks up it keeps going. This is the only thing keeping it from being a perfect film. Action should have been faster initially, or at least more drama in the first third of reflection.

I loved this film, the cast, music and cinematography are spectacular and it gives us very human characters facing their choices. All the choices have consequences too and there are no easy outs and asks the question of redemption being even possible. For these reasons I would recommend this film, just know the first third is a bit long before the action really picks up.

My final score for this film is 9.4 / 10.