Fresh off the heels of the critically acclaimed and financially triumphant Furious 7, Vin Diesel is set to make an almost immediate return to the big screen this October with The Last Witch Hunter. In it, Diesel plays an immortal witch hunter named Kaulder who goes up against a coven of powerful witches in modern day New York City. Although the title and the basic plot don't sound like anything special, the newly released trailer delivers a sizable amount of promise and potential. See for yourself!
The trailer starts out with a mini-monologue by Michael Caine's character, Father Dolan. He says that he has been reading and writing about Kaulder for many years before adding:
...your story...has no end
This opening monologue helps introduce both Vin Diesel and Michael Caine's characters. Father Dolan is introduced as a classy and intelligent priest, formally dressed and seated with a glass of liquor. The fact that an intellectual individual like Father Dolan has been studying Kaulder for so many years really highlights Kaulder's importance and distinction in the film's universe. On top of that, Vin Diesel's character is revealed to be immortal. His legacy has likely been going on for hundreds of years and will go on for hundreds more.
Father Dolan goes on to describe how Kaulder is the greatest soldier of his kind. As he does so, Kaulder is shown a large cabinet of weapons. They are mostly guns, but Kaulder choses the sword. It is now clear that Kaulder has been on earth since before the advent of long-range weapons. Despite the advantages of using a gun to fight his battles, Kaulder stays true to his traditions and favors the sword. Perhaps this sword in particular is important to him, like the Sword of Gryffindor from the Harry Potter universe.
The trailer proceeds to tease the audience with snippets of truly supernatural effects. A pentagram is burned into the floor, a plane is nearly struck by orange lightning, and a man is strangled by supposedly conjured snakes. We even get to see Kaulder swing his sword at a witch like in a martial arts movie. This promises some well choreographed fight scenes to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
Father Dolan mentions that there is a war going on between "our world and the next." This just begs the question: what is the "next" world? Based on the clues given in the trailer, we can only assume that it's the underworld. On the other hand, this film seems to offer a different kind of underworld than what we're all used to.
Rather than a gothic, fiery underworld, the underworld in this film seems to be represented by snow and ice. At the mention of the "next" world, we see snow falling inside a room, and Kaulder overlooking an enormous tree in the middle of a snowy tundra.
This tree is obviously very important, as it seems to be the center of this movie's underworld. It is possible that it could be like the Hometree from Avatar, and will house all of the creatures of the next world. What looks like the same tree is shown on fire later in the trailer, so it is possible that Kaulder burned it down to take out the witches' main hub.
Near the end of the trailer, wooden branches are seen coming together to form a monster of some sort. This is most likely a monster that lives in that tree, and it will likely meet its fate when the tree is set on fire.
After showing the tree for the first time, the film's villain is shown. The antagonist is a bearded warlock named Belial (played by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson). He is shown breathing fire, but who knows what else he can do?
He says: "Well hello, witch hunter," and gives a creepy, echoing laugh. Since Kaulder is indeed the last witch hunter, Belail's motivation is quite clear: he wants to kill Kaulder so that witches are no longer prosecuted by those who aim to hunt them.
Vin Diesel, in his deep and naturally hypnotic voice, delivers the last line of the trailer:
Here's what you never understood...what your kind never understood...you will be hunted.
Kaulder then pulls out a shotgun and shoots, revealing the film's title. It's quite a fine way to send chills down anyone's spine. As if that wasn't epic enough, Kaulder is seen wielding his sword...on fire! What could be a better way to lure Furious 7 fans in than showing them Vin Diesel with a flaming sword? The best part is, the trailer barely shows him using the flaming sword. All the more reason I need to see this!
This trailer gave a good idea of what the movie is about and who the main characters are, yet it didn't reveal too much or make the movie look bland. Truly an excellent trailer, which you can't say for a lot of action movies (especially non-sequels).
As for the movie itself, it could go either way. The tropes of Urban Fantasy have already been done so many times. How many times have famous landmarks been secret gateways to another world? How many times have we seen monsters destroying buildings and tearing up concrete? How many times has there been a human character as comic relief to the hero? Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, I, Frankenstein, and The Sorcerers Apprentice all failed to do this genre justice, but hopefully, The Last Witch Hunter will be of much higher quality. It's all about execution, and the tropes of Urban Fantasy can really work in the right hands.
Furthermore, even if the movie does succumb to the many cliches of Urban Fantasy, the power of its cast (including Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood and Michael Caine) could elevate the material with charm. Michael Caine rarely touches a bad film, and Vin Diesel shines in pretty much every role he's in. Even the horrendously unfunny movie, The Pacifier, was better with him in it.
It would certainly help if the film finds a happy medium between the overly-serious and dull tone I, Frankenstein had, and the goofball antics of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. In other words, The Last Witch Hunter would work best as a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, but offers some good suspense to fit its supernatural themes.
Overall, there is no guaranteeing that The Last Witch Hunter will be Vin Diesel's next hit. Though, if the trailer is any indication of what to expect, we have quite a lot to look forward to.