Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Last Witch Hunter Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious and Riddick franchises) battles to protect mankind from the ultimate evil in The Last Witch Hunter from Summit Entertainment. 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.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
After an ancient epic battle, Kaulder, who is an immortal witch hunter, searches the world for witches who are breaking the deal set 800 years before after the death of Queen Witch. His mentor/handler for the last 50 years, Dolan 36th, is retiring and prepping the new guy, Dolan 37th. When Dolan 36th is attacked and placed under a spell, Kaulder and Dolan 37th race to find the witch who cast the spell.

Kaulder visits a witch bar, where he meets the proprietor, Chloe, who is a dream walker. Kaulder asks for the spell to help him remember the battle from 800 years ago, and Chloe warns him that if he is injured or killed during his dream, he will be injured or killed in reality. While under the spell, the bar is attacked by Bilial, the witch who cast the spell on Dolan 36th. Kaulder comes out of the spell as the bar is burning down, and he, Chloe and Chloe’s friend/co-owner are able to escape. Kaulder wants to try the spell again, and after once again being attacked by Bilal, this time in Chloe’s apartment, 

Chloe and Kaulder head to Miranda’s, but find her in the garden, having been killed by Bilial. Chloe decides to help Kaulder and they go to Danique, a witch who can provide the ingredients for the spell. But Danique casts an endless spell on Kaulder instead of providing the spell for the dream. Chloe is able to enter Kaulder’s dream and save him, because as a witch, she is a dream walker. Later, Kaulder explains to Chloe that the Queen Witch used dream walkers to change good memories into bad ones. He convinces Chloe to go into his dreams and find the memory of the Queen Witch’s death.

After Chloe pulls the dream from Kaulder’s mind, he leaves her and Dolan 37th behind to search for Bilial and stop him from bringing back the Queen Witch. Kaulder is able to defeat Bilial before he can bring her back, but the spell had already been cast and the Queen is brought back through another witch. As the Queen returns, she unleashes the Black Plague and when Kaulder faces her, he learns that Dolan 37th has a secret from his past regarding when he met Kaulder as a child.

Using ancient runes that control the weather, Kaulder unleashes a storm and uses his sword as a conduit for lightning in order to defeat the Queen Witch. But just before he kills her for good, Chloe tells him that the world (and she) still needs him to protect it from witches who are casting spells. Kaulder takes the Witch’s heart, which is the source of his immortality, and hides it away in his apartment, which has a magical safe, and he, Chloe and Dolan 36th, who was released from the spell once Bilial was killed, form a new team and go in search of other witches.

I actually really enjoyed this movie. When it was in theaters, a lot of the reviews said it was not very good, but I don’t really take what people say to heart. I like to see it for myself because everyone has different tastes. While it’s true that the story, at times, was a little bit of a mess, it was entertaining and kept me engaged. I definitely wasn’t bored while watching The Last Witch Hunter. Vin Diesel was fine as Kaulder, it was weird seeing him in flashbacks with hair and a big beard. Rose Leslie was great as Chloe, I just adore her as an actress. Michael Caine is always great, and though his part was small, he brought a big presence to the screen. Lately, Elijah Wood has reminded me of a sniveling creep, and he played that to perfection in this movie. There is a lot of action, magic, and excitement, and it was a fun movie to watch. 
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray presentation of the The Last Witch Hunter was really good. The picture was sharp and the colors were great. There are a lot of scenes in the dark, and the black, brown and grey palette was also really good. Scenes transitioned smoothly and there were not many issues with the picture. The DVD picture was not as sharp and the colors were not as bright. At times, it seemed more like I was watching on HBO than DVD. The picture wasn’t as clear and at times, even showed blurry. The transitions between scenes was also a little choppy. It wasn’t enough to annoy me, but a few times it was more noticeable that others.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The English DTS: X audio for The Last Witch Hunter Blu-ray was good. The dialogue was clear and crisp and the soundtrack blended well. The volume level was even and it wasn’t difficult to hear anything. Audio on the Blu-ray disc is also available in English 2.0 DTS, Spanish 5.1 DTS, English Descriptive Audio, and English DTS Headphone X and subtitles in English, English SDH, and Spanish are included. On the DVD, the sound wasn’t as good. It was lower and little more uneven. The volume level has to be increased and the English 5.1 Dolby Digital sounded a bit muddled at times. On the DVD, English 2.0 DTS audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital, and English descriptive audio are included, and English and Spanish subtitles are available.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
The special features for The Last Witch Hunter were interesting. The short films were narrated by Michael Caine, and just like Morgan Freeman, he’s a great narrator. My favorite feature was the Paint it Black feature. It really made me want to watch the movie. 
  • Crafting the Magic: The Last Witch Hunter (30:20) -- A 30-minute behind the scenes look at the movie
  • Animated Short Films: The Origins of the Axe and Cross -- Two animated shorts: Before Mankind and The Witch Lords. Available individually or as a play all option.
  • The Last Witch Hunter Sizzle Reel/Paint it Black -- Scenes from the film set to Paint it Black…
  • Trailer
  • Commentary with Director Breck Eisner
  • Deleted Scenes (5:42) -- two deleted scenes: Fear potion and Ellic's House
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I enjoyed The Last Witch Hunter. It was a fun and exciting movie that held my attention and kept me engaged. No, it wasn’t perfect and no, the story wasn’t the best, but, in spite of that, I will still watch it again. It’s not going to win any major awards, but the movie is definitely one full of action.

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