The Last Witch Hunter Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this action fantasy that stars Vin Diesel as a legendary warrior sworn to protect the modern world from treacherous black magic and prevent the Queen Witch from returning.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

95

Details:

Studio and Year: Lionsgate – 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 106 minutes
Genre: Action/Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS:X, English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, English DTS Headphone: X Spanish DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Starring: Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie, Julie Engelbrecht, Michael Caine
Directed by: Breck Eisner
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Written by: Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 2, 2016

“Live Forever. Hunt Forever”

My Take:

Kaulder is an immortal witch hunter who has spent centuries tracking down those who practice evil magic. When history’s deadliest witches resurrect their bloodthirsty Queen Witch, Kaulder becomes humanity’s last hope as he clashes with the supernatural in an epic battle for the ages.

The Last Witch Hunter abounds with overused clichés, lofty attempts at seriousness and a bland, formulaic storyline that is predictably unimaginative, while failing to make use of star Vin Diesel’s limited but workable toolset. I cringed at the poorly integrated drama, ridiculous plot twist and the cheesy lines spoken by screen veteran Michael Caine. I am not sure what Elijah Wood has done of late so I can forgive his signing on for this, but Rose Leslie has been getting plenty of quality work and need not subject herself to this. Anyway, she, along with Julie Engelbrecht, as the makeup covered Witch Queen, were the film’s bright spots.

I can usually hang in there when it comes to action fantasy popcorn entertainment and reservedly did so with The Last Witch Hunter, despite its middling elements and mediocre production design. I like Vin Diesel and Rose Leslie’s presence didn’t hurt either but when all was said and done, this is a poorly crafted film that will probably leave all but the most forgiving of genre fans disappointed.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):

Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

DTS:X Rating: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion:
  • Soundstage integration:
  • Audio object placement:
  • Effectiveness:
  • Entertainment factor:

The Last Witch Hunter comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS:X/7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5Mbps.

This is an excellent video presentation that boasts image quality that is indicative of a newer release film. Resolution is generally strong as images have crisp definition and lucid clarity. Objects onscreen appear dimensionally strong with exquisite rendering that discloses subtle minutia captured by the camera’s lens during close ups. The level of sharpness fluctuates some however this is attributable the extensive CGI used and it doesn’t adversely affect the quality of the video. The color palette isn’t particularly extensive as grays and other neutral colors are heavily utilized.

Fleshtones are naturally rendered with warm accents that give them lifelike tonality. Blacks are inky and noise free with discernibly deep gradations that enhance the films many dark sequences. The deep shadows, multi-staged grays, and inky blacks looked terrific on my large screen. I didn’t see any overt signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise.

This 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is aggressive and features an active surround mix that has extended dynamic range that positively renders the bombastic nature of the elements in the recording. The action based sequences transform the listening area into a three dimensional sound field filled via immersive surround activity that mates perfectly with the events unfolding onscreen. Low frequency effects produce deep resonating bass that rumbles with tactile authority that occasionally pressurizes the room. Dialogue is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity that imparts just the slightest hint of sibilance in the upper registers. This is a wonderfully involving and dynamically rewarding sound design that features high level sonic detail, superb directional correlation and rhythmically charged bass extension. My advice is to crank this one up, sit back and enjoy.

* The Last Witch Hunter represents the first title with a DTS:X soundtrack that I have been able to evaluate since recently upgrading my Marantz AV8802A pre/pro to include the necessary processing. Seeing as it’s an action based film I wondered how similar it would be when compared to its Dolby counterpart, which I have been very pleased with. You will note that my rating elements for DTS:X are identical to those used for Dolby Atmos as the characteristics of what I look for are the same. *

In listening to the DTS:X surround mix, especially in the early parts of the film, I found it to be of the reserved variety in its use of sounds that emanate from above. Predominantly speaking the use of sounds in the height plane was limited to occasional atmospherics and pointed supplemental object fills. I certainly have no problem with that especially if the mix as a whole appropriately supports the film’s elements and that wasn’t an issue. The action based sequences during the first two acts create an engaging level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the various scenes involving weapons play, physical encounters and venue replicating sound placement, the use of discretely placed effects and room swirling atmospherics places you inside the action.

Right around chapter 11, with the resurrection of the Witch Queen, things ramp up and the overhead sound field kicks in. As the intensity of the fighting, such as the battle with the Sentinel, picks up, using closer quarters, the culmination of effects emanating from all around proves involving. I also noticed that the front height channels were used on occasion to augment the depth of sounds like low level claps thunder, which based on the camera’s perspective were off in the distance. The effect was actually very good and made it seems as though you were standing on the roof of a tall building listening to the approaching storm. So the question is did I find my first DTS:X experience to be worth the wait? I would say that the experience was similar to what I have heard from other 3D immersive soundtracks. Did this mix make the best use of the format’s capabilities, perhaps not, but the potential is there. We’ll have to wait and see.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Crafting the Magic: The Last Witch Hunter – 30 minute featurette
  • (HD) Animated Short Films: The Origins of the Axe and Cross – “Befored Mankind” & The Witch Lords”
  • (HD) The Last Witch Hunter Sizzle Reel/”Paint it Black”
  • (HD) 2 Deleted Scenes
  • Audio Commentary with Director Breck Eisner
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

As an action fantasy [i]The Last Witch Hunter[i] is a mediocre effort that fails to capitalize on the charisma of its star and the potential in its freedom of imagination. It comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video and a room shaking lossless sound mix that comes in both DTS 7.1 Master Audio and DTS:X multi-dimensional flavors. As a film The Last Witch Hunter is tough to recommend but as a home theater experience, whether you’re set up for 3D immersive sound or not, it’s worth checking out on Blu-ray.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package