Saturday, October 31, 2015

STILL More Inappropriate, Ill-Advised And Bizarre Halloween Costumes

Well, it's October again, so you know what that means— Homecoming games, raking leaves, and stores full of slutty Halloween costumes. 

Oddly enough, this year I haven't seen any of those temporary Halloween stores that pop up in my city. Last year I passed three of 'em on the way home from work (all within a half mile radius), but this year, nada. I've always wondered if there's really that much money to be made by these stores. After all, how many Sexy Journeyman Electrician costumes can a person sell? I'd occasionally browse around one or two of these stores, but I never bought anything, ever. Maybe no one else did either. That's probably why they skipped my town this year.

This year the Halloween costume designers have gone all out in their search for innocent subject matter to co-opt and corrupt. No pop culture figure is off limits, no internet meme is too fleeting. Anything and everything MUST be turned into a costume, at all costs. Let's take a look at a few ridiculous examples, shall we?

Sigh... this is the Sexy Carrot costume. Yet more proof that every object doesn't need to be turned into a sexy costume.

 It's the gender-bent Sexy Charlie Brown costume! Thank goodness Charles M. Schulz isn't alive to see this! Good grief!

I'm a bit confused by this Adult Cooked Turkey costume. Besides the fact that it's just plain butt ugly and disturbing, the "adult" label would seem to indicate they make this thing in kid sizes. That seems like reason enough for the sheriff to take your child away from you if you dress him in this thing.

Secondly... I've never in my life seen anyone wear a costume to Thanksgiving dinner, so it has to intended for Halloween parties. Who dresses as a Thanksgiving turkey for Halloween?

Here's another event-confused getup: the Adult Christmas Tree costume. Again, I don't get it. Christmas and everything bad associated with it'll be here all too soon. Don't hurry it along.

Wrapping up this confusing trend, here's the Adult Fragi-lay Wooden Crate costume from everyone's favorite Halloween movie, A Christmas Story. Expect to explain what you're supposed to be all night if you're stupid enough to wear this thing to a party.

This is the aptly named Inflatable Adult Camosuit. I'm reeeeeally confused by this one. I guess it's for people who want to take up as much space as possible while still remaining invisible? 

Perhaps you wear it in your deer blind when you go hunting, and if you fall out of the tree, the inflatable suit'll break your fall?

For the discerning Deadhead (if there are any still alive), it's the Grateful Dead Deluxe Dancing Bear costume. Pass the 'shrooms!

If anyone at the party can name a Dead song other than Touch Of Grey, give 'em a gold star.

Now we're getting into slightly more inappropriate territory. This is the Sexy Bubblegum Machine costume.

I can think of at least one way they could have made it even sexier, involving where the gumballs actually come out. If you've ever seen a live sex show in Thailand, you'll know what I'm talking about. Was I too subtle there?

Continuing the trend, it's the Spicy Woman's Taco costume. Come on, do I even have to explain this one?

And here we have the Hot Scottie Male costume. I have a feeling few party goers are going to have the physique necessary to pull this one off.

I can also guarantee that any man who wears this one is going to make a "wanna see if I've got something on under my kilt" joke before the night's over.

Finishing up the so-called "naughty" theme, we have the Male Flasher costume. Because men publicly exposing themselves to innocent women is hiLARious, dontcha know.

How much do you want to bet the costume company sells the exact same outfit as a Secret Agent costume, raking in twice the dough?

Here we have the Adult Jailhouse Jumpsuit costume. Wow. This seems like a really, really bad idea. If you have the poor judgement to buy this costume, at least don't put in on until you get to the party. Otherwise, good luck running into the supermarket to get ice, or explaining yourself to the police when you're stopped for speeding.

Oy. Hasn't this clan's fifteen minutes of fame expired yet? It's the Duck Dynasty Adult Costume series. Here we have the officially licensed Duck Dynasty Willie costume. Note that it comes with headband, fake beard and vest only. You have to provide the grimy, faded jeans yourself.

And of course there's an Official Duck Dynasty Uncle Si costume. Again, hat, beard and vest only are included. You have to provide the blue cup yourself! Booooo! I'm not proud of it, but even I know they should have included his trademark ever-present cup.

And of course what Duck Dynasty costume series would be complete without a facsimile of family patriarch Phil Robertson

Sorry fans! Horrifying beliefs and extreme racism not included!

And lastly we have the Adult Bird Attack costume, which is obviously an unlicensed Tippi Hedren from Alfred Hitchcock's classic film The Birds.

OK, I actually like this one. They did a pretty good job, it's not outrageously revealing and it's even kind of funny. Kudos!

I also like this one quite a bit. It's called Sexy Space Fighter, but it's obviously an unlicensed Sexy Marvin The Martian, from the Looney Toons cartoons.

The costume makers accidentally scored a hit here though. It's sexy without being slutty, and it actually looks like most of the women on the covers of pulp sci-fi magazines from the 1940s and 1950s. Good inadvertent work, guys!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 5: 4,722 Hours

This week's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. was quite a departure from the usual, and just a damned fine hour of television. Instead of the typical spy shenanigans, we spend the entire episode (well, 99.99% of it) seeing how Agent Simmons survived her ordeal on the alien planet.

Kudos to actress Elizabeth Henstridge (as Simmons), who puts in an awesome performance in this episode. The first half is pretty much a one woman show, as she goes from patient to analytical to panicked as she tries to survive in a hopeless situation.

This episode was just the latest to throw a monkey wrench into Fitz's efforts to win back SImmons. He rescues her from an alien planet for frak's sake, only to find out she met another guy there! I bet poor Fitz didn't see that one coming! 

When I first heard the title of this episode-- 4,722 Hours-- I was afraid Simmons might get her arm pinned under a boulder and have to saw it off. That was a joke, son.

By the way, 4,722 hours equals 196 days, or about six and a half months. Which is exactly how long Fitz said Simmons had been gone. Someone did the math!


The Plot:
Most of this episode is a flashback, as we start with Simmons getting pulled into the Monolith. She's then unceremoniously dumped on the surface of a harsh, seemingly sunless alien planet. The portal she passed through closes, leaving her stranded who knows where.

She dutifully explores the planet and reports her findings for a while on her cell phone. Eventually she realizes help isn't coming right away and begins searching for food, water and shelter. She finds a pool of water and begins drinking and bathing in it, until she's attacked by some sort of tentacled plant thing. She fashions a crude weapon, kills the plant and eats it.

A few weeks later she's exploring when she falls through a hole in the sand. When she wakes up she's inside a bamboo cage. A shadowy figure watches her from a distance, saying he has to make sure Simmons is "real." Eventually the figure reveals he's human and his name is Will. 

Will's an astronaut and has been on the planet since 2001, when NASA sent an expedition through the Monolith's portal. Unfortunately his three crew mates were driven crazy by "It," and died. When Simmons asks what "It" is, Will says, "Death." He says the planet is evil and has "moods."

Simmons figures out when and were the next portal will appear, and she and Will hike to the location. Unfortunately there's a deep, impassible valley between them and the portal. In a last ditch effort to let someone know they're still alive, Will throws a literal message in a bottle across the valley at the portal. Unfortunately it closes before the bottle goes through.

Simmons is devastated. She has no way to know when or where another portal will open, if ever. She's trapped here, probably for the rest of her life. Will tries to console her, and they kiss.

Weeks later, Simmons and Will, now quite comfortable with one another, hike to a location where they'll be able to briefly see the planet's once-every-eighteen years sunrise. As they wait for it, Simmons sees a flare in the sky. She realizes it's Fitz and S.H.I.E.L.D., come to rescue her after six months.

They run toward the flare, but "It" shows up and blocks their way, taking the form of a space suited figure. Will tells Simmons to keep going, and he'll hold "It" off. He fires his one bullet at it, which does no good. Simmons makes it over a hill, where she sees Fitz tethered to a portal, reaching out his hand to her.

We then cut to the present. We've already seen how Fitz rescued Simmons, and how she's struggled to adjust to life back on Earth. And now Fitz knows why she wants to go back to the planet. Because she left someone she loves behind. Fitz taks a deep breath and says, "Right. Let's go get him."

A couple of weeks ago when Simmons first said she had to go back to the planet, I guessed it was because the planet was some sort of penal colony and someone there (most likely an alien) helped her escape, and she wanted to rescue them as well.

Well, it wasn't a penal colony, but I was right about someone helping her while she was there. I just didn't expect it to be a human astronaut from Earth!

 We don't get the usual title sequence this week. Instead, as a way to emphasize Simmons' hopeless predicament, we get a silent title card superimposed over the desolate planet.

 I liked this episode quite a bit, as it may be the best hour of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet. That said, it's not without it problems. The main one: it doesn't quite line up with the behavior Simmons has exhibited since she got back,

In the season premiere, we see Simmons seemingly running for her life, masking blood on her forehead with mud to confuse whatever's chasing her. Her eyes and terrified manner made it seem like she'd seen horrible things during her time on the planet.

But as we see in this episode, things weren't all that bad. Yes, she was attacked by a plant monster, but other than that, she and Will carved out quite a nice little life for themselves there.

She did see "It" right before she was rescued, but it didn't seem all that terrifying to me.

Also when after she got back, she was all twitchy and would jump at the tiniest noise. Again. I didn't see anything in this episode that would account for such behavior.

 I wonder... this episode first aired while the awesome film The Martian is still in theaters. Both tell the story of a lone character marooned on a hostile alien planet. Was it just a coincidence that the two coincide, or did Marvel plan it that way?

 Like all women in sci-fi and horror, Simmons is incapable of running more than a few seconds without falling and twisting her ankle. Must be a genetic thing.

 After searching for several days, Simmons finally spots a pool of water and immediately begins drinking from it. You'd think a top notch scientist like Simmons wouldn't do something that rash without somehow testing it first. How'd she know it was really water? What if it was contaminated, or poisonous to her system?

Maybe at that point she was just too thirsty to care. 

 Everyone and their dog has commented on the amazing battery life of Simmons' smart phone. Eh... it didn't bother me. Simmons mentioned that Fitz altered it somehow to give it ridiculously long battery life, so that's good enough for me.

This is a world full of super soldiers, gods and men in flying suits, so a smart phone with a six month battery shouldn't be that hard to believe.

 A couple of weeks ago Mockingbird stated that Planet Blue had no fauna, only flora. So I guess the tentacled thing that attacked Simmons in the pool was some sort of carnivorous plant, and not an animal.

 All the exterior scenes on the planet are tinted a harsh blue. It was a simple but very effective way to simulate an alien environment. It makes me wish they'd done the same thing on all the various Star Trek series.

 Will says he's been on the planet since 2001. Is that a 2001: A Space Odyssey reference? He left in the year 2001, and went through a portal in a monolith to get there.

 Does time flow differently on Planet Blue? Will looks like he's in his early 30s, and has been stuck on the planet since 2001. That's fourteen years. Did he really become an astronaut when he was somewhere between 15 and 20 years old? Seems like he should have looked a bit older and more grizzled. Maybe the lack of a sun on Planet Blue preserved his youthful looks.

 So NASA's had the Monolith and been studying it since at least 2001. Too bad there must not be any interdepartmental cooperation between government agencies. S.H.I.E.L.D. could have saved a lot of time and effort if they'd had NASA's Monolith research.

 Will has a map of the planet, which features a "no-fly" zone. It's a place he never goes because "bad things happen there." Simmons of course immediately sneaks off to explore the no-fly zone. Among the things she finds is an old sword, several hundred years old.

It's the same sword we saw a few weeks ago, when a group of wealthy noblemen living in 1830 England sent one of their own into the Monolith!

• So what exactly is Planet Blue? Will says it's evil and has moods. It kind of sounds like he's trying to say the planet is alive.

Is it possible this is Ego, The Living Planet? Ego is a character in Marvel comics, and is... well, a planet that's alive, and has a consciousness. 

Planet Blue doesn't look much like Ego, who had an enormous face formed out of mountains and valleys and such. But there are some similarities. Ego could alter the shape of its surface. Planet Blue did the same thing, when it created the huge valley between Simmons and Will and the portal.

Ego could also create "antibodies" to rid its surface of infections (read: unwanted inhabitants). These antibodies often took humanoid form. Planet Blue does the same thing, with "It." The first time It appears it looks like a black hooded figure, but when Simmons sees it, it looks like a weird astronaut.

Did Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. just introduce Ego The Living Planet to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Possibly, but I wouldn't count on them actually calling it that, nor would I expect to see a giant face on its surface when Simmons goes back for Will.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Flash Season 2, Episode 4: The Fury Of Firestorm

This week's episode of The Flash had a certain feeling of familiarity to it. Seems like it was just earlier this year that Ronnie Raymond and Professor Stein learned to work together to form Firestorm. Now here we are watching it happen all over again, as the Professor gets a brand new partner.

So why did actor Robbie Amell, who plays Ronnie, leave his half of Firestorm and the show? Maybe he's just too busy. He was recently cast in the new X-Files reboot. He may also be wanting to try and break into feature films as well. If that's the case he's going to have to do better than things like The Duff, or he'll be landing right back on TV.

Whatever Amell's reasons for leaving, Ronnie's out and Jax Jackson is in. Looks like I was wrong about who Professor Stein's new partner would turn out to be. Back in the Season 1 episode Revenge Of The Rogues, Caitlin met Jason Rusch, a friend of Ronnie's who worked with him on the top secret F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. project. I assumed Rusch would become Ronnie's replacement, especially since he did so in the comics. Whoops! I totally got that one wrong. So if Jax Jackson is the new half of Firestorm, what was the point of introducing Rusch last season? Odd.

Anyway, this was obviously all setup for The CW's upcoming Legends Of Tomorrow series, which will feature Firestorm, along with several other superheroes. I'm hoping we're done setting up other shows for a while so we can finally get back to this one.

So far this season the whole "Iris' Lost Mom" subplot has gone nowhere, to the point where I began wondering why it existed at all. Now we know. Iris has a secret brother. Don't be surprised when his name turns out to be Wally West. As in "Wally West: Kid Flash."

Barry and the STAR Labs Gang were exceptionally irritating in this episode. They literally popped into poor Jax's life out of nowhere and started badgering him into merging with a complete stranger in order to become a superhero. They were worse than schoolkids pressuring a classmate into doing drugs! It got to the point where I was starting to actively dislike all of them. I don't blame him a bit for telling them to get lost.

There were also a lot of heavy-handed lessons in this episode, reminiscent of an ABC After School Special (do they still make those?). Both Professor Stein and Caitlin had reservations about Jax because he wasn't as educated and polished as Henry Hewitt. Later when Jax steps up and agrees to merge with Stein, they learn a valuable lesson about taking chances that can change your life.

Barry learns the same thing when he's reluctant to let go of Iris and choose Patty Spivot. Joe literally spells out the message for him, telling Barry, "That was a hell of a leap of faith that kid took, merging with Professor Stein. Maybe that should be a lesson for you."

Gosh, The Flash writers, I'm still not sure I understand the message you're trying to get across. Maybe you should hit me over the head with it a couple dozen more times.


The Plot:
Two years ago, Jax Jackson (oy) is a promising young high school football player who has his pick of colleges. Then Dr. Wells' particle accelerator explodes, exposing him to dark matter and ending his career.

In the present day, Professor Stein is dying. The Firestorm Matrix inside him needs another person to help stabilize it, or it's gonna blow. Caitlin uses STAR Labs' magic computer to find two compatible candidates. Henry Hewitt, a successful and well-educated scientist, and the aforementioned Jax, who's now a garage mechanic.

Barry and the STAR Labs Gang approach both men. Hewitt is familiar with Professor Stein's work, and excited to merge with him. The two men touch hands, but nothing happens. Hewitt flies into a rage and leaves, angry that his time was wasted. Jax wants nothing to do with the whole idea of merging his body with that of a middle-aged man, which seems like a logical response to me.

Over at Mercury Labs, Dr. Tina McGee sees someone who looks exactly like Harrison Wells steal a piece of tech from her lab.

Meanwhile, Iris meets with her estranged mother Francine. Iris calmly listens to Francine's story, then tells her she's sorry but wants nothing to do with her. Later Francine tells Joe that she's dying of the ever popular MacGregor's Syndrome, and has just a few months to live. 

Iris does some digging (because she's a reporter and that's what reporters do, man!) and finds out that Francine was pregnant with Joe's child when she left. This means Iris has a secret little brother, who absolutely won't turn out to be Wally West, the Kid Flash. Iris tells Francine to get lost once again. Iris decides not to tell Joe about his secret son, which means she's now keeping a huge secret. Wait, didn't she get pissed at Barry and Joe last season for doing that very same thing to her?

Elsewhere, it seems that Henry Hewitt was affected by his contact with Stein. He begins developing fiery powers similar to Firestorm's. As his powers grow, his mind becomes increasingly unstable and he goes on a rampage. Jax returns to STAR Labs and agrees to merge with Stein after all. They touch hands and the merging is successful. 

The Flash and Firestorm intercept Hewitt and defeat him. Professor Stein and Jax fly back to Pittsburgh (I guess Jax is just going to leave his friends and family behind?), seemingly hightailing it off the show as quickly as possible.

In the tag scene, the Flash is spying on Patty Spivot, which isn't the least bit creepy, when he's attacked by an enormous shark-man. It tells Barry that Zoom sent him to kill him. Suddenly the shark man is blasted by a bolt of energy from a ray gun wielded by... Harrison Wells.

 Kudos to actress Danielle Panabaker (as Caitlin Snow) for delivering several epic mouthfuls of expository technobabble at the beginning of this episode. Her description of what happened to Professor Stein and how to fix him-- all while trying to act and hit her marks-- couldn't have been easy.

Here's her first block of dialog:
 "I think I might know how to do that. When the particle accelerator exploded, the dark matter that collided with Professor Stein fused with the Firestorm Matrix and altered the normal molecular processes that occurs within his body. Those highly reactive molecules needed something to bond with in order to stabilize."

A few seconds later she says:
"No, he can't, but I've done some research, and I've found two potential candidates that might be compatible with him. They both were affected by the dark matter and they were both admitted to the hospital showing symptoms of gene rearrangement mutation. And they both sare the same blood type as Professor Stein and Ronnie."

Then she goes on to say:
"If I can isolate the genetic locus of the two candidates and cross reference it with the mutations in Professor Stein, I might be able to find a match and save his life.

Whew! Take that, Geordi LaForge!

 Joe's wife Francine tells him she's dying of MacGregor's Syndrome. If that has a familiar ring to to it, there's a reason. In Batman & Robin, Mr. Freeze's wife Nora was suffering from MacGregors, and put into cryogenic stasis until he could find a cure. Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred also had it. 

Over on Arrow, William Tockman, the Clock King, suffered from it as well. 

MacGregor's is one of those "TV diseases," the kind that are terminal but have no obvious symptoms. You don't waste away with MacGregor's, you just get weaker and weaker until you die. 

 Did it seem odd that the Cisco & Caitlin invited two complete strangers into STAR Labs, while Barry's Flash suit was hanging on a hook just behind them? Is anyone even trying to keep Barry's identity a secret at this point?

 Dr. Tina McGee calls Joe and reports a break in at Mercury Labs. She tells Joe the culprit was Dr. Harrison Wells, and he was walking. She asks Joe if there's any way that's possible, and he tells her absolutely not.

Jesus Christ, Joe! Just a couple of weeks ago you learned all about the existence of Earth 2, and how we could all have a double there. It's really not that tough to understand!

• How times have changed. Last year I thought Iris was the worst character on the show, and could barely stand to watch her. This season she's done a 180 degree turnaround, and has become the voice of reason. Likable, even. In fact I liked her much more in this episode than I did Barry and the STAR Labs Gang. They seem to have degenerated into children. while Iris has become the adult.

The way Iris handled her estranged mother was also well written and totally believable.

• Henry Hewitt works for Eikmeyer Technologies. As far as I can tell that doesn't seem to be a comic reference.

Hewitt originally appeared in the Firestorm comic. There he was the head of the Hewitt Corporation (natch), whose attempts to recreate Firestorm ending up spawning the female superhero Firehawk. 

Hewitt later ran the experiment on himself and built a containment suit he named Tolomak, and became an archenemy of Firestorm.

A "tokomak" is an real thing-- it's a device that uses a magnetic field to contain plasma in the shape of a torus, for use in creating a fusion reactor..

• There are tons of comic book characters out there with Firestorm's "pupil-less" eye look, but it looks really disturbing in real life.

• I wish the show would delve into Firestorm's other abilities a bit more. He's not just a Human Torch clone-- he's supposed to have the ability to transmute matter. Turn bullets into confetti; that sort of thing.

• Wow, King Shark actually showed up on a TV series! What a surprise! He first appeared in the Superboy comic in 1994, and was later a member of  the Suicide Squad.

He looked amazing too! The effects team did an awesome job bringing him to life. In fact I'd go so far as to say he looked better than Gorilla Grodd! I'm betting he'd be too expensive to appear in an entire episode, so this fun little cameo is probably all we'll ever get.

Next week we finally get back to finding out what the Earth 2 Dr. Wells is up to!

No No Power Rangers

Believe it or not, it's been a whopping twenty three years since the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers first graced our TV screens. Twenty three years! Can you believe it?

Producer Haim Saban, who reworked the series and brought it to our shores, is currently working on a big-budget film version of the series. Details are sketchy, but don't be surprised if it turns out to be a grim, gritty and grounded take on the property. In other words, no damn fun.

Casting is currently underway, and so far these are three of the actors chosen to play the new Rangers.

Sigh... so it looks like the movie is deliberately bucking the show's trend of "color-coded" casting. You know, how in the show the Black Ranger was black, the Yellow Ranger was 
Asian, and the Pink Ranger was a girl.

I know there've been internet memes and comedy sketches about the Power Ranger's "racist casting," but did anyone out there really feel that way about the show?

I saw it as a kind of visual shorthand. The kids playing the Rangers had their faces hidden under helmets for much of each episode, so I just figured it was a quick way to tell who was who. "Ah, the black kid is the Black Ranger, got it."

I can't imagine that anyone ever thought, "Thank god they made the girl the lame Pink Ranger, so she knows her place!"

But there you go. Thank the Maker that we finally have colorblind, non-racist Power Ranger casting, so no one in our society will have icky bad feelings.

This hyper-sensitive, politically correct Hellscape is our world now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It Came From The Cineplex: The Last Witch Hunter

The Last Witch Hunter was written by Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (it took THREE people to write this?) and directed by Breck Eisner.

Eisner (whose pappy Michael Eisner used to be the head of Disney) previously directed Sahara, which was pretty meh, and The Crazies remake, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I'm starting to think maybe The Crazies was a fluke.

Vin Diesel stars as Kaulder, the titular witch hunter, and is obviously his attempt at setting up yet a fourth franchise for himself (he's got the Fast & Furious films of course, along with the Riddick series and xXx, which he's threatening to revive). Does he succeed? Well, I wouldn't advise him to buy that luxury yacht just yet. The film barely pulled in $10 million in its opening weekend, against its $70 million budget. Despite this less-than-impressive debut, Diesel insists that Lionsgate wants him to make a sequel.

The Last Witch Hunter is yet another in a series of high-concept PG-13 fantasy/action films that have littered the cineplex the past ten years or so. If you've seen Season Of The Witch, Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night or Seventh Son, then you've seen this one.

Diesel struts across the screen dressed much like a would-be Blade The Vampire Hunter, substituting witches for blood suckers. He's got the same black leather duster and even wears his sword on his back! He's also got a cool car, an arsenal of supernatural weapons, and even a Whistler-like handler/sidekick! All just like Blade!

Unfortunately for someone who calls himself a witch hunter, he does very little actual witch hunting in this film. Diesel's Kaulder character is more like a witch parole officer, making sure they stick to the letter of their law. He's a kinder, gentler witch hunter for our touchy-feely times.

If you ever wondered to yourself, "I wonder what the Blade films would have been like if instead of killing vampires, he arrested them if they attacked humans," then this is the movie you've been waiting for.

This was a very ugly looking movie. Even the daylight scenes were dark and washed out, and the nighttime scenes were practically impenetrable. I'm not sure if the film was deliberately made like this or the projector bulb at my local cineplex was about to burn out. I'd need to see it in another theater to find out for sure, and that ain't happening.

It's a given that this was never going to be great cinema, but it could have been a really good B-movie. Alas, there's no fun here to be had. The film plods across the screen, playing by rules the audience doesn't fully understand, showing us a world that seems fleshed out but is sadly never closely examined.


The Plot:
We begin eight hundred years ago, when the Witch Queen plans to unleash a deadly plague to wipe out humanity. A group of vaguely Viking-esque warriors surround the Witch Queen's tree house (?) and attack. A warrior named Kaulder (played by Vin Diesel) attacks the Queen and stabs her with his flaming steel sword. With her dying breath she curses Kaulder with eternal life.

Cut to the present day, where Kaulder is still alive and well and hunting witches. Well, not really. Sometime over the years there was a truce between humanity and witch-kind. They're now free to govern themselves as long as they don't use their magic against humans. Kaulder is more of a cop, who makes sure the witches are towing the line.

Kaulder's handler and aide is a priest known only as Alfred, er, the 36th Dolan (played by Michael Caine). The 36th Dolan is retiring, and prepping the twitchy young 37th (played by Elijah Wood, in a role that has to be several notches below The Lord Of The Rings) to take his place 

The next day, Kaulder is informed that the 36th Dolan died in his sleep. Kaulder and 37 investigate the death and find traces of magic. He tracks the magic to a bar run by a good witch named Wendy, er, I mean Chloe (played by Rose Leslie, of Game Of Thrones fame). There he's attacked by Belial (subtle!), a male witch who longs for the old days and wants to return the Witch Queen to power.

Kaulder discovers that 36 isn't actually dead, he's just been cursed into a coma. He can only be revived if the witch who cursed him (which would be Belial) dies. Kaulder then teams up with Chloe to find Belial so he can save his friend, as well as stop the Witch Queen from being resurrected. 

He eventually finds out that the Dolans kept the Witch Queen's still beating heart, and have kept it secret for the past eight hundred years. Their reason? Kaulder's immortality is tied to the heart. If it's destroyed, he dies, and he'll no longer be their order's weapon against witch-kind. I guess that makes a certain twisted sense.

As you might expect, the Witch Queen is resurrected and takes Kaulder's immortality back for herself. It seems she was just storing it inside him, waiting for the day she'd return. 37 also announces he's on the Witch Queen's side, because Kaulder killed his witch parents (somehow they had a child with no powers).

36 is revived when Belial is killed. 37 is betrayed and murdered by the Witch Queen. Kaulder manages to kill the Queen for the second time. He regains his immortality, but is talked out of destroying the heart by 36, who gives him the "You're our weapon against witches" speech. You'd think he wouldn't fall for that a second time, but there you go.

Kaulder then partners with Chloe, resisting the temptation to say, "This is the start of a beautiful friendship." And of course we see the still-beating heart of the Witch Queen, safely tucked away in Kaulder's safe, where it'll never cause problems for anyone every again.

 Vin Diesel is a self-admitted Dungeons & Dragons fan (people still play that game?), and reportedly said that Kaulder is based on the witch hunting character he plays in the game (who he named Melkor). So you know what that means! Yep, this is a vanity project!

Admittedly it's been a long time since I played D&D, but I don't remember there being a witch hunter class in the game. Maybe things have changed in the decades since I last played.

 At the beginning of the movie, Kaulder confiscates three magic gems from an inexperienced young witch. She stole the gems and stuffed them in her pocket, unaware that when they come in contact with one another they cause the weather to turn violent. Kaulder explains this to her (and the audience) as he separates the stones. He then immediately wraps them in a cloth and stuffs them in his pocket, where they'll surely touch one another again.

 Michael Caine apparently needed a house payment. He shows up on set as the 36th Dolan just long enough to pick up his paycheck. His character is in the film for maybe fifteen minutes, tops. He appears for a few minutes at the beginning and the end, literally sleeping through the middle of the film in a magic-induced coma!

 When Kaulder investigates the scene of the 36th Dolan's death, he explains that witch magic comes from the four elements. Whenever a witch uses magic it leaves behind a residue that can be detected.

He then uses air and fire to look for magic residue, finds none, and then apparently satisfied, he starts to leave the scene. Um... OK, so you tested for air and fire. What about earth and water?

He finally does sprinkle some dirt around, which detects some magical residue. But he only does so after he notices some kind of dead flies on the floor. He doesn't even follow his own rules!

 Singing Sword Alert! 

For the past ten or fifteen years, any time a sword appears in a movie, it "sings." That is, any time we see a character pick up a sword, or heck, even if the sword is just lying on a table, there's an audible "ringing" sound effect, almost like someone struck a tuning fork.

Nowhere is that more evident than in this movie. At one point Kaulder holds up his sword and stares meaningfully at it, and it "sings" so loudly it almost drowns out his dialog!

 Credit where credit's due: There was exactly one clever element in this movie— the whole "storing immortality inside Kaulder" thing.

In the past, the Witch King "curses" Kaulder with immortality right before she dies. Then when she's resurrected in the present day she steals her immortality back from him. Apparently using him as a storage unit was all part of her plan, to prevent her immortality from being lost forever.

A nice little plot twist, and something I've not seen done before.

 In addition to being immortal, Kaulder is also invulnerable. Yep, just like Wolverine, his cuts, bruises and even broken bones heal in seconds.

When are filmmakers going to learn that heroes who can't be hurt are boring? It's impossible to build up any suspense when your hero can't be harmed and is never in any danger. That's why even Superman has his kryptonite weakness. 

The only time there's any slight tension in the film is when Kaulder briefly loses his immortality. Not to worry though! In this universe, immortality is apparently like a track meet baton, and can be passed from person to person that easily.

 This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but here goes. The title of the film is The Last Witch Hunter, implying that Kaulder is the last in a long line of magical enforcers. But in the film we learn that throughout history he's always been the only one. There's no vast army of magical enforcers, it's just one guy. The Sole Witch Hunter would have been a more apt title. 

The Last Witch Hunter could have been a classic little B-movie, but it's lacks any sense of fun and is typical of the CGI fantasy films which have littered the cineplex the past few years. Vin Diesel's convinced it's the start of a whole new franchise, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I was him. I give it a C+.
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