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

Carnivale – Season 2, Episode 6 – “Road to Damascus” – When the Masks are Off

Carnivale Road to Damascus

“The Road to Damascus” is a decision episode. Big events happen that change things and show us the truth of characters and character relationships. We see past relationships too in regards to Samson and the complex relationships between different carnivals.

The episode was written by Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin and directed by Tucker Gates.

We meet folks from the Daily Brothers Show who had their tents burned down by Stroud though they believe it was the owners for the insurance money, Pastor Justin Crowe holds a confessional for the guilty party of the church burning, Ben needs to make a choice to move forward, Sofie has to decide to leave and the Dreyfus family arc finally goes somewhere. These are the stories that unfold.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Pastor Justin Crowe – Justin stands by his sister even after all that happened but only after she had come clean in her guilt and confessed. He helped her grow and it showed he hadn’t completely lost his humanity given he saw Dolan as tool from the beginning.

Dolan – Dolan takes the fall for Iris, and it’s implied Justin’s powers made him do it. He tries to hold her accountable but there is nothing he can do. He was a great character though and even though he was sleezy at times his good heart came through. I wonder if this will be the last we see of him.

Sofie – We see Sofie’s joy in her relationship with Ben and when she dances in the rain, which happens after her and Ben have sex. Sadly Samson’s prediction comes true, at least for now as Ben leaves to find Scudder and try and beat Stroud to him. The last we see of her is her leaving the carnival behind and watching it leave.

Ben – Ben is embracing his destiny and actually forming a life. We see his joy and connection with Sofie over their horrible childhood and parents and her and him happy as they share a moment together in which after it rains. We also see Samson acting as a mentor and it’s after he talks to Samson that he goes ahead to try and beat Stroud to Scudder.

Samson – Samson had a relationship with the woman in charge of the other carnival. They were married for 9 years as he tells Ben but they work something out where she gets a cut of profits and he keeps her husband on board. We see him caring for the other carnies and his glimpsing of the big picture.

Okay: Ruthie/Lodz and Lila – One of the last scene is of Ruthie possessed by Lodz asking Lila where the boy is, just as she’s moving on. I would have preferred a spirit of Lodz given how great the actor is and I worry this will destroy what little development Ruthie’s received.

Dreyfus Drama – Stumpy’s a liar and no one is surprised. He blames Jonesy for destroying his family when Stumpy did that and feels powerless as Jonesy has slept with his wife and is building a relationship with Libby his daughter. I hate Stumpy. Rita’s okay and Libby is awesome.

This episode had a lot happen and made things move forward in a big way. What remains to be seen is if the new elements will go anywhere. Does Ruthie exist as a character? What is Justin’s big plan? Will Ben reach Scudder before Stroud? What will become of Sofie? These are the biggest questions beyond the mythology that I hope we get answers to before the end.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Another solidly great episode.

Carnivale – Season 2, Episode 5 – “Creed, OK” – Haunting Masks

Carnivale Creed, OK

“Creed, OK” is a very haunting episode that also manages to capture a lot of great character moments as well as the arrival of Stroud, Justin’s agent on the scene of the Carnival. It is an overall good episode that brings back dilemma for many of the characters.

The episode was directed by Jeremy Podeswa and written by Tracy Torme.

In the episode Ben traces Scudder’s death mask to the maker’s home in Scudder, OK. It is here a mysterious and haunting episode happens where a mask is made for him upon his face. Stroud threatens Jonesy and Samson and Ruthie comes forward about seeing dead people to Sofie who is in the same boat. At the same time Justin and Dolan receive Iris’s confession of burning down the church.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Mask Maker – This guy is really haunting. He comes off an overly nice but creepy gentleman who says he doesn’t do masks for anyone but children but over the course of talking to Ben begins targeting him and voicing interest. Ben later passes out and is given a sedative to paralyze him as the mask maker makes a mask on his face while wearing a creepy child-like mask. Ben wakes up and the mask maker denies everything but we later see him send a mask of Ben’s face to Pastor Justin after listening to his radio show.

Ben Hawkins – It is great seeing this character active! From his friendship with Samson and Sofie, to his search for Scudder and standing up for people in different situations…Ben has become a great guy! I actually like this character now when I couldn’t stand him in the first season because of how passive he was.

Pastor Justin Crowe – Gets a confession from iris and forces her to face her guilt for what she did. This was powerful showing us that some of the good still lies in this character, even if it only is in the time before he embraced his destiny. I’d like more of this rather than the blatantly evil man we’ve seen the last few episodes.

Sofie and Ruthie – Ruthie feels like a fleshed out character now! It sucks it took her dying to get that. We see it in the moments of shared powerlessness she feels of seeing the dead as she talks to Sofie about seeing Sofie’s mother. They are both haunted by their natures of being changed in certain ways. How this plays out for both remains to be seen, but given the tone of the show it is most likely to end in tragedy.

Sofie and Ben – Sofie and Ben continue to grow as friends and potential lovers leading to the reading of cards and a vision Ben hands leading him to believe Scudder is in Damascus, NE. It’s a scene that leaves them speechless given the graphic vision of a man scarred to the point of lost humanity beyond the visions of the location of “Dog and Wolf howling to the Moon,” and Scudder in a tux.

Samson – Stands up to Stroud’s threats and warns Ben about ruining Sofie’s life because from what he gathers…Ben’s journey is a one way trip. This was powerful showing again how much everyone in the carnival means to him.

Okay: Stroud – The guy just goes around threatening, he is a living weapon and not a compelling one. I didn’t care about this character when he was introduced and I don’t know. He seems to exist only as a plot device for interaction between characters.

This was a great episode that I really enjoyed. The Mask Maker was foreboding and threatening and the reveal of what he does and how much pleasure he takes from it was horrifying. We learn that Scudder is alive from him too which advances the plot. I’m really liking how Sofie and Ben are growing as characters and that this episode at least tried to capture some of the past complexity of Pastor Justin.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great.

Carnivale – Season 1, Episode 7 – “The River” – Discovery of Power

Carnivale The River

“The River” is the episode where other characters become aware of Ben’s power and Justin Crowe discovers his own as we get his backstory and the reason behind why he lived with his sister. It’s a great episode in regards to how it explores the magic and some of the characters.

The episode was written by Toni Graphia and directed by Alison Maclean.

The episode begins with Ben learning of Ruthie’s connection to Scudder when Lila and Lodz attempt to manipulate him to action. This leads to him fighting and injuring her son Gabriel. Elsewhere Justin Crowe contemplates suicide on a bridge and has a flashback in the river as we get their backstory from Dolan interviewing Iris as a version of their past takes place when Justin sees himself following through with a suicide. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Crowe’s Vision of the Past – Crowe has a vision of jumping into the river and washing up and meeting himself and his sister Iris when they were children. It is there his younger self kills him as he killed the man who tried to hurt them and he realizes his power. After he chooses not to jump and gives his sister a call that she has known about it all along.

Dolan – Dolan’s radio program is fascinating, as well as how we learn from his kindness and openness with Iris and that her and Justin were Russian immigrants who died in a train crash and could only count on each other. It’s a brutal story but reveals why they are so isolated from everyone and their bond. Dolan’s openness is a nice contrast to this.

Iris – Iris telling their story and speaking Russian are some of the more powerful parts of the episode. She calls Justin by his name he had before he was Justin and we see her shock when she realizes Justin knows the truth.

Ben – Still resisting his power (come on now, we want answers!) but he heals Ruthie’s son after they fight and respects Ruthie’s space since her relationship with Scudder was none of his business. Lodz and Lila still have power over Ben and the ability to get under his skin.

Professor Lodz – Lodz cruelty comes out in this episode as we see him beat Lila when she reveals the healing of Dustin to him and he realizes he missed it. It was here that my distrust of him grew much more. How much does he want to help Ben or just help himself?

The Cons: Lag – There are certain moments where the story lags or feels choppy. For this reason I can’t rate it as highly as the episodes that came prior.

Justin is the most compelling part of the narrative at this point. He is finding things out and being active in the search to understand himself, versus Ben who is doing everything to resist that discovery. The carnival is great and I’m curious when they are going to meet  Justin and what will come out of it given the shared dreams between characters. The episode lags in some places but the Justin part of the story is very strong.

Final Score: 9 / 10.