The Last Witch Hunter
|The Last Witch Hunter|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Breck Eisner|
|Music by||Steve Jablonsky|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment|
|Box office||$146.9 million|
The Last Witch Hunter is a 2015 American dark fantasy action film directed by Breck Eisner and written by Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, and Burk Sharpless. The film stars Vin Diesel as an immortal witch hunter who must stop a plague from ravaging New York City. The film was released on October 23, 2015, grossing $147 million while receiving generally unfavorable reviews from critics.
Eight hundred years ago, the Witch Queen unleashed the Black Plague to wipe out humanity. A band of knights, including a widowed Kaulder, whose family had died in the plague, storm her lair and in the ensuing battle, Kaulder manages to defeat her. Before dying, the Witch Queen cursed Kaulder with eternal life.
In the present day, Kaulder prevents a teenage witch from unintentionally destroying an airplane with weather controlling runes stored in her luggage. Kaulder is revealed to be working as a witch hunter for the Order of the Axe and Cross, an organization which aims to keep the truce between humans and witches (allowing witches to live freely providing they do not use magic on humans) and either executes or imprisons the witches who break the law. He is aided by a priest called "Dolan", a tradition carried from the first priest who fought in the battle to destroy the Witch Queen.
The 36th Dolan tells Kaulder that he is retiring from his duties and has chosen a new Dolan for him. The former apparently dies in his sleep that night. Kaulder and the 37th Dolan deduce that 36 was murdered by a witch. While tracking down the witch, Kaulder finds traces of old dark magic, not seen since before he killed the Queen. It is revealed that 36 is not dead but, rather, under a dark magic spell that can only be broken if the witch that cast it is killed.
Using clues that 36 left behind, Kaulder goes to a witch bar, owned by Chloe and Miranda, to buy a memory spell to help him remember how he died and came back. Chloe eventually agrees to perform the spell. During the process of reliving Kaulder's memory, the bar is attacked by a witch, the same one who cursed the 36th Dolan. He later attacks Chloe at her apartment, though Kaulder saves her by pulling her through a portal into his own apartment. Dolan the 37th and Kaulder work together to determine the hostile witch's name - Baltasar Ketola, though he goes by the name Belial. Shortly after, Kaulder convinces Chloe to try to make him another memory potion, but since Belial destroyed her stash at her club, she needs to visit Miranda's warehouse. After it is discovered that the plant they are there for hasn't sprouted yet and the rest stolen by Belial, Kaulder and Chloe discover Miranda's body as Belial taunts them through Chloe's phone. Chloe immediately agrees to help Kaulder get what he needs to kill Belial.
In order to get the rare ingredient to create another memory spell, they visit another witch, Danique. However, Danique casts an endless memory spell on Kaulder, planning to entrap him in his dream forever. Chloe, revealed to be a dream-walker, is able to enter his trance and free his mind and the pair escape. Kaulder asks Chloe to enter his mind and pull out the memory. He discovers that, though the Queen's body burned to ash, the first Dolan chose to spare the Queen's heart, having realised Kaulder's immortality is tied to the Queen's heart, which if destroyed, would cause Kaulder to die. They deduce that the 36th Dolan was attacked because he knew of where the heart was hidden and was tortured into revealing its location. They also realize that Belial's real plan is to revive the Queen.
Leaving Chloe and the 37th Dolan behind, Kaulder goes to face Belial and the Queen to prevent her from returning. Though he kills Belial in a confrontation, Belial had already revived the Queen, who then steals back Kaulder's immortality. The 36th Dolan, who is recovering, encourages Kaulder to continue fighting.
The members of the Witch Council, who guard the Witches' Prison, are killed and the Queen plans to release another plague curse using the imprisoned witches as a coven, since even the Witch Queen isn't powerful enough to cast it alone. Using her dream walking ability, Chloe manages to kill one of the weakest prisoners, severing the connection of the Queen to the prisoners and temporarily stalling her plan. Kaulder fights the Queen, and appears close to killing her, until the 37th Dolan attacks him, revealing he is the non-magical son of witches who Kaulder killed when he was five years old. He asks the Queen to give him magical powers. She states that despite her power, "clay cannot be turned to gold" and kills him, before turning to Chloe and linking her mind to complete the connections between the witches for the plague curse to form again. Kaulder manages to summon lightning to his sword (using the weather runes he confiscated from the young witch on the plane) and throws his sword into the Queen, burning her to ash. Kaulder prepares to kill both the Queen's heart and himself, but Chloe dissuades him, stating that there were things in the darkness worse than the Witch Queen that he needs to continue fighting.
The 36th Dolan agrees to delay his retirement and stay by Kaulder's side. Chloe does as well, and the three form a new team, free from the Axe and Cross. The heartbeat of the Queen is heard within Kaulder's weapon stash in his apartment.
- Vin Diesel as Kaulder
- Rose Leslie as Chloe
- Elijah Wood as Dolan 37
- Michael Caine as Dolan 36
- Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Baltasar Ketola/Belial
- Julie Engelbrecht as Witch Queen
- Rena Owen as Glaeser
- Isaach De Bankolé as Max Schlesinger
- Lotte Verbeek as Helena, Kaulder's wife
- Dawn Olivieri as Danique
- Inbar Lavi as Sonya
- Aimee Carrero as Miranda
- Bex Taylor-Klaus as Bronwyn
- Allegra Carpenter as Fatima
- Kurt Angle as Bodyguard #4
- Joe Gilgun as Ellic
Screenwriter Corey Goodman was largely influenced by talks with Vin Diesel, specifically about his Dungeons & Dragons witch hunter character. Initially Timur Bekmambetov was to direct but was later replaced by Breck Eisner and Goodman's script was re-written by D.W. Harper before Melisa Wallack was brought on to work on the film's script. Both were uncredited. The production filed for a film tax credit in Pennsylvania and was allocated a tax credit of $14 million. In February 2014, Vin Diesel posted a photo of the film's concept artwork to his Facebook page and Lionsgate CEO Jon Feitheimer commented that if successful, The Last Witch Hunter could become a film franchise. In March 2014, Lakeshore Entertainment boarded the film as co-financier with Lionsgate, but Lakeshore quietly left the project. In July 2014, it was announced that Rose Leslie would be joining the cast as Vin Diesel's co-star, and in August, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson were also announced as attached to the film. Julie Engelbrecht and Lotte Verbeek will also star. In February 2015, Steve Jablonsky was hired to compose the film's score.
Principal photography for The Last Witch Hunter was initially delayed due to the death of Paul Walker, as the death delayed shooting for Furious 7. Lionsgate officially began setting up for filming in Pittsburgh in June 2014. The filming began on September 5, 2014, in Pittsburgh, as Diesel posted a first look of himself on Facebook. The shoot lasted until December 5.
The Last Witch Hunter grossed $27.4 million in North America and $113 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $140.4 million, against a budget of $90 million.
The film opened on October 23, 2015 alongside Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Rock the Kasbah and Jem and the Holograms, as well as the expanded release of Steve Jobs. In its opening weekend, the film was projected to gross $13 million from 3,082 theaters, but made $525,000 from its Thursday night previews and just $3.7 million on its first day. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $10.8 million, finishing fourth at the box office behind The Martian ($15.7 million), Goosebumps ($15.3 million) and Bridge of Spies ($11.3 million).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 16%, based on 123 reviews, with an average rating of 3.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Grim, plodding, and an overall ill fit for Vin Diesel's particular charms, The Last Witch Hunter will bore and/or confuse all but the least demanding action-fantasy fans." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 34 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
On June 17, 2015, Diesel stated on his Facebook page that an untitled sequel was in the planning stages. Though it was initially planned to be a franchise, the poor box office showing as well as Diesel's busy film schedule has cast doubts on a sequel getting made.
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