After starring in the worldwide sensation Furious 7, Vin Diesel returns to the big screen in an all-new adventure. Instead of driving cars through skyscrapers, he's going to be traveling across dimensions to stop an omnipotent warlock from releasing the black plague onto the modern world.
Admittedly, we have had a lot of misfires with fantasy films over the years. Recent fantasies like Seventh Son and Jupiter Ascending were poorly received by critics and audiences alike for being bland and repetitive. On the other hand, The Last Witch Hunter looks like something much more worthy of our anticipation. While the jury's still out on whether or not it will be good, The Last Witch Hunter (at least for me) still has quite a few elements that make it worth checking out.
1. The visuals are promising
A movie's visuals can make or break a story, and The Last Witch Hunter appears to have some impressive effects up its sleeve. Unlike other urban fantasy films, this movie won't be strictly limited to a New York City backdrop. Sure, you'll get the city set pieces that come standard with the sub-genre, but you'll also get snowy tundras and ancient forests to break up the familiar. We've seen quite a lot from the trailers:
A frozen wasteland
Swarms of cerulean butterflies
And of course, Kaulder's epic flaming sword
Even if the script doesn't end up living up to the hype, it's easy to expect this film to at least deliver on an aesthetic level!
2. Breck Eisner is directing
Breck Eisner is one of those directors that people may not know by name, but one who has certainly shown his talent in previous movies. The 2005 film Sahara, while being a financial let-down at the box-office, was still an entertaining and well-made adventure film that delivered exciting set pieces on a grand scale.
His 2010 film The Crazies, which I still think is one of the better horror films in recent years, showed that Eisner is more than capable of handling diverse genres. With a brooding atmosphere and incredible use of makeup, The Crazies stands as one of the rare examples of a horror remake that was done well.
Having dabbled in both horror and action/adventure, Eisner certainly has the experience to work on a fast-paced supernatural film like The Last Witch Hunter. One can expect him to bring the same thrills he brought to Sahara and The Crazies to his newest movie.
3. Vin Diesel is playing the lead
Vin Diesel has a certain charm and appeal to him that makes even his rockier movies worth watching. His smooth voice and slick delivery make him a perfectly capable leading man, and his likable personality has gained him quite a following.
Diesel has a knack for playing the tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold that is often difficult to pull off in a performance. In addition to Dominic Toretto in the Fast and Furious movies, he brought equally lovable performances to Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy and the titular character in The Iron Giant. Even though the latter two performances were voice-overs, it takes a lot of talent to make a memorable role out of characters who don't even talk that much.
Based on his previous roles, one can easily be optimistic about his performance in The Last Witch Hunter. Based on the trailers, Diesel seems really into the part, and the character looks like he's a badass with a sense of humor. The scene in the trailer where he playfully scares another character trying to take a selfie with him is a good sign that Kaulder won't be a boring fantasy hero. There's a good possibility that Kaulder could end up being another great character to add to Vin Diesel's resume.
4. The supporting cast is impressive
Aside from Vin Diesel, The Last Witch Hunter has quite a cast. First of all, Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood is playing a central role as Kaulder's partner. Even after the Lord of the Rings movies, Wood has still managed to impress audiences with his exceptional acting talent. In the 2012 movie Maniac, his performance as a disturbing psychopath even won him some awards. After a hiatus from big Hollywood movies, Wood will hopefully make a triumphant return in The Last Witch Hunter.
Veteran actor Michael Caine will also star in The Last Witch Hunter, playing the 36th Dolan. Despite being in the business for over half a century, Caine's career shows no sign of letting up. Over the past five years alone, Caine has appeared in such hit movies as Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Now You See Me, Interstellar, and Kingsman: The Secret Service, and he's delivered an excellent performance in every one.
With all of these big names attached to The Last Witch Hunter, it's quite easy to be excited for it!
5. There is passion behind the project
Vin Diesel is no stranger to fantasy, as he is a massive fan of the game Dungeons & Dragons. He wrote the forward to 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons, and recently revealed to Hitfix that the game inspired him to take the lead role in The Last Witch Hunter. In fact, he says that he had a discussion with the film's writer (who is also a huge D&D fan) about a character that Diesel created for the game.
Diesel said to Hitfix:
"About four years ago I met with a writer name Cory Goodman and we started talking. Someone put us together because he was a D&D player. [Afterwards, Cory] went off to write a whole film around my character Melkor. Just the very fact that I’d be playing a witch hunter speaks to how nerdy I was about the game, how committed I was to D&D because witch hunter [wasn’t a] class by TSR at the time."
The fact that Diesel at least partially inspired his own character is a very good sign. A lot of times, an actor will be contractually obligated to a role without much enthusiasm for it and turn in a lackluster performance as a result (such as Channing Tatum in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra). With Diesel though, his love for D&D and the witch hunting class could really elevate the material. It certainly helps that one of the film's writers is just as much of a fan of the game as Diesel is. It really is a good sign when the people behind a film are passionate about it!
There's no telling yet if the movie will amaze or disappoint; after all, fantasy films are often hit-or-miss nowadays. However, this one looks like it could be an entertaining romp that fans of witchcraft and urban fantasy could get a kick out of. Consider checking this baby out during the Halloween season.
The Last Witch Hunter comes to theaters this Friday!
For more editorials and reviews, visit my blog at filmfizz.com.