The Last Witch Hunter (Blu-ray Review)

Last-Witch-HunterVin Diesel (Fast & Furious and Riddick franchises) battles to protect mankind from the ultimate evil in The Last Witch Hunter arriving on Digital HD on January 12 and Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and On Demand on February 2 from Summit Entertainment, a LIONSGATE company. Diesel stars as the heroic Kaulder, a legendary warrior sworn to protect the modern world from treacherous black magic and prevent the Queen Witch from returning. With stunning special effects, the film also features Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings trilogy), Rose Leslie (HBO’s “Game of Thrones), Julie Engelbrecht (Before the Fall), and two-time Academy Award® winner Michael Caine (Best Supporting Actor, The Cider House Rules, 1999; The Dark Knight franchise), who assist in his quest to save our civilization.

Last Witch Hunter 2

Film Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0Dexter-0

Kaulder is an immortal witch hunter who has spent centuries tracking down those who practice evil magic. When history’s deadliest witches resurrect their bloodthirsty Queen Witch, Kaulder becomes humanity’s last hope as he clashes with the supernatural in an epic battle for the ages.

How do I explain this?  A movie that is better than the vile spewed at it when it came out last October, but still isn’t very good.  But, one that seemingly had chips on the table to make something interesting that didn’t.  A film with a great productions design, a vision and good execution on that, but still not really hitting any sort of stride.  One that was not terrible to watch, better than I imagined it would be, but still a film that I definitely wouldn’t really recommend to anybody.  So…that’s The Last Witch Hunter?

Vin Diesel’s supernatural action/horror thriller has the right idea, and a solid mythology, but is one that just isn’t set to go for the big screen.  Its lacking in action and its dialogue sequences aren’t strong or intriguing enough (Something really bad) to hold interest through them.  With as much backstory, mythology and world building as the film is trying to do in under two hours, its a wonder they didn’t try to move this production to a television network for ten episodes.  This film is more fitted to that rather than rolling the dice, hoping for a hit and then going for a sequel.  Diesel is obviously down, as I can see him viewing this as his sort of ode to Dungeons & Dragons (To which he is a HUGE fanatic).  But, just like his last attempt at something like this (The Chronicles Of Riddick), it just doesn’t work.  Where this one betters that, is that I didn’t have to sit through The Last Witch Hunter for over two and a half hours.

As mentioned earlier, this movie isn’t a chore to sit through.  Its a film that you just feel they were onto something but just kept missing the mark each time.  The production design on the environments, costumes, weapons and monsters is all terrific.  I couldn’t believe what seemingly looked like it was a cheap production looked so rich and more imaginative than many bigger blockbuster movies you see in the summer.  They crafted a world I was into, they just didn’t manage to tell an interesting story in it.

Vin Diesel here is a little more charming than usual.  He’s having a blast with this movie and character and that really helps you keep on board with the movie and get through some of the dialogue he’s having to spout out at many points in the film.  The rest of cast is rather classy too as you get Michael Caine, Elijah Wood and (Hopefully up and coming) Game of Thrones‘ Rose Leslie.  I was also thrilled to see Bex Taylor-Klaus with a small role in the opening of the film.

Apparently there are plans to make a second venture with The Last Witch Hunter.  With Vin Diesel and something he wants to franchise, you never say never.  So, I don’t doubt we see one, but I feel it’ll take another couple blockbusters to make some more “One for me” clout to get this done as he’s done with Riddick before.  This initial journey isn’t abysmal.  It’s got some good stuff on display, but it just doesn’t all work and doesn’t quite work all the way.

Last Witch Hunter 1

Video Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Last Witch Hunter is a really terrific looking film and it has transferred very well to Blu-ray.  The computer effects seemingly look well too, possibly by being a part of a really dark looking film.  The images are sharp and fully detailed.  This film has a really good production design and its shines through as a big strength with this Blu-ray video transfer.

Depth:  I think this movie was 3-D when it came to the theater.  Anyway, yeah, it looks like it.  Spacing is very good and background imagery is pretty distinct.  Movements appear cinematic.

Black Levels:  Blacks are very rich with heavy shadowing.  No crushing witnessed.  This is a very dark film (possible to enrich the look of some of the CG effects) and it handles it well if your eyes are struggling to see some things.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are very bold in the film.  There are a lot of blacks and the like but when things like fire show up or some green spell stuff it really lights up the spectrum and looks lovely.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent.  Freckles, wrinkles, stubble, lip texture and facial damage all come through cleanly and detailed.  The witch face in the movie looks wonderfully chronicled with texture as well. 

Noise/Artifacts:  Very very clean.

Last Witch Hunter 5

Audio Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1

Audio Format(s): English DTS-X, English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA, English Headphones DTS-X, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  For this review, the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track was set.  Its a terrific mix that really marries both a sense of place and some in your face action.  Sound effects feel full and powerful, but also layered and well rounded.  Score, effect and dialogue all compliment each other neatly and never seep into one another.

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer booms with gun blasts, sword fights, magic and flames roaring as it rumbles.

Surround Sound Presentation:  All seven channels feel the love.  There is some swooping action that does involve your side and rear speakers, as they also deliver pristine ambiance.  Front speakers present a nice robust mix of atmosphere and action, following things back and forth and placing them with a volume adherent to where they appear on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear, crisp and set to a perfect volume and presence in this audio mix.

Last Witch Hunter 4

Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0Dexter-0

The Last Witch Hunter comes with a DVD copy and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Breck Eisner

Crafting The Magic: The Last Witch Hunter (HD, 30:20) – A lengthy, pretty standard generic press interview fare.  As I expected when watching this film, Vin Diesel talks about Dungeons & Dragons.

Animated Short Films: The Origins Of The Axe And Cross – A series of animated short prequels to the film.

  • Before Mankind (HD, 2:43)
  • The Witch Lords (HD, 2:18)
  • The Witch Hunter (HD, 2:44)
  • Witches Live Among Us (HD, 2:06)

The Last Witch Hunter Sizzle Reel / Paint It Black (HD, 1:36) – A montage of scenes from the film set to a cover of the Rolling Stones’ classic.

Last Witch Hunter 3

Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0

Strangely, The Last Witch Hunter had a vision, production competency and idea that could have made for something really terrific or a good series.  Actually, all the stuff in place may not have worked for a film because it was better suited for a television season.  Its not a terrible experience, but not a particularly good one either.  The presentation on this Blu-ray is very strong with extras that are decent, but overall kind of weak.  Something for fans to pick up at a decent price and those curious to just settle for a rental.



Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

Comments are currently closed.