Friday, December 11, 2015

3 Short Paragraphs: The Last Witch Hunter

2015, Breck Eisner (Sahara, The Crazies) -- cinema

OMG, Vin Diesel finally made a movie with his D&D character as the main !  I always assumed the evolution of Riddick was him playing to his witch hunter Melkor but, well, this movie he actually plays a sword wielding witch hunter !  OK ok, the D&D player in me loves how Vin becomes "that guy" whenever asked by a talk show host about his D&D playing past, "Let me tell you about my character...." And he has to rein himself in from going on and on about that time when he slew that ghoul and... and... Notice the talk show host looking blankly?  Anywayz, I understand that Melkor could never be used (thanks Tolkien estate) as the character's name but the original script was actually based on Vin's rambling !! I am disappointed that Timur Bekmambetov was not part of it, as originally planned, for I love his vision but the movie turned out pretty good despite the alterations since original conception.

Vin is Kaulder, the member of a D&D party hunting down a witch queen. They look to be Norse warriors but they are led by a priest and it is the Dark Ages, so they really could be anywhere. The Queen is hiding in a massive tree, some sort of bastardization of Yggdrasil, and she makes quick work of the warriors (no +1 weapons I assume) except for Kaulder who takes her down. But not before she curses him.... with eternal life. Flash forward to Kaulder in current NYC as the immortal lead hunter of the Axe & Cross, who no longer just kill witches outright but keeps them in check. Witchery is a bloodline and it's up to them to choose dark or light; if they choose the former, they should expect a visit from Kaulder.

This movie just looks good. The design choices for the witchy ways of doing things were both wild & natural, but also corrupted and altered by magic. So much of it hinted at the choices witches have to make, and at how easily they can become corrupted for the sake of more power. Vin as Kaulder modern is classic magic realism hero with an arsenal at hand and fine tailoring. Rose Leslie (from Game of Thrones) plays the naive good witch beside him, as they seek to uncover the conspiracy raising the vanquished Witch Queen from the dead. I won't be so blind as to say this movie is wonderful, but not as harshly horrible as the critics may lead you to believe. Vin does prove he only has a limited range of emotions he can faithfully play, as some of his memories of his past made me roll my eyes.  This one will definitely join My Shelf.