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'The Last Witch Hunter's' Vin Diesel can't summon the magic

'The Last Witch Hunter's' Vin Diesel can't summon the magic
Vin Diesel stars as Kaulder in "The Last Witch Hunter." (Scott Garfield / Lionsgate)

"The Last Witch Hunter" should really be called "Another Franchise Hunter," as it's a loud, convoluted, digitally messy stab at a fourth movie series for Vin Diesel (10 points if you can name them all!), and the one most likely to earn that "Last."

Here he's ancient warrior Kaulder, who 800 years ago vanquished the plague-spreading Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht), a sinewy, slime-caked meanie who terrorizes by manipulating bugs and tree roots. She curses Kaulder with immortality, if by the 21st century you call a swank Manhattan pad, bedding flight attendants and having Michael Caine as your very own priestly advisor a curse. But the long-standing truce protecting humans from magic is suddenly doomed, and Kaulder needs the help of a fetching witch (Rose Leslie from "Game of Thrones") and a new advisor (Elijah Wood) to make sense of it all, because we sure won't.

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"The Last Witch Hunter" is one of those artlessly restless, exposition-dialogue fantasy-action slogs that, thanks to Breck Eisner's untamed direction, never manages to corral all the potion talk, mythology rationale and leaps back and forth in time into anything remotely entertaining (save Diesel's twinkly growl-speak). Meanwhile, Caine and Wood exist solely as fond links to other, better mytho-heroic tentpoles. And yet all clogged roads still lead to one guy with a sword against a busily designed CG creature. We won't see the "Last" of that, surely.

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"The Last Witch Hunter"

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.

Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Playing: In general release.

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