-- Rated: PG-13
Three out of five stars
Vin Diesel is capable of doing better than what he delivers in "The Witch Hunter," and those particular skills are evident in the first few minutes of a movie in which, for the most part, he doesn’t really do much acting.
When we first meet Diesel’s Kaulder, it’s 800 years ago. Sporting a long beard and long hair on top of his head with the sides shaved, he’s barely recognizable. He’s part of a group of men searching out the Witch Queen, who as we all know – duh! -- is responsible for the Black Plague.
Diesel is at his best during these scenes. He barely has any dialogue and it forces him to really act. He is also connected to his wife and child, who we occasionally see in flashbacks. When he has dialogue, he relies heavily on his deep baritone and charisma – and he has plenty of charisma -- but he could be so much more engaging if he treated scenes with dialogue like he treats scenes without dialogue. That’s where a little Meisner, Stanislavsky or Uta Hagen would help.
Kaulder ends up slaying the Witch Queen, but not before she curses him with immortality. At first, living forever doesn’t seem so bad. Don’t most of us wish we could live forever? In fact, allowing him to live forever puts all witches in danger because he is, after all, a witch hunter.
Now, flash-forward to the present. Kaulder is still hunting witches, but doesn’t necessarily kill them because these days, not all witches are bad. Heck, most of them don’t even realize the potential of their magic. One such witch is Chloe, played by Rose Leslie of "Game Of Thrones" fame. While none of her dialogue is as memorable as “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” she’s still fun to watch. Chloe betrays her kind (sorta) and teams up with Kaulder.
"The Witch Hunter" is a story influenced by Diesel’s passion for the classic role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, but it’s not a particularly original or well-written story. There are also some laughable holes in the plot.
Diesel and company are clearly hoping "The Last Witch Hunter" turns into a franchise and I suppose it could, if only he focused more on bringing more character to Kaulder and becoming a more complete actor. Instead, we get a yarn that is just entertaining enough for you to walk out of the theater satisfied, but not enough to have you begging for more.