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THE LAST WITCH HUNTER (12A) Starring: Vin Diesel, Sir Michael Caine, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Julie Engelbrecht, Olafur Darri Olafsson Director: Breck Eisner Duration: 106mins AT a critical juncture in Breck Eisner's risible swords and sorcery romp, a snivelling human begs an evil enchantress to bless him with dark magic so he might serve alongside her.

"Clay cannot be turned to gold," she hisses.

The Last Witch Hunter is an ugly lump of clay, devoid of magic, which half-heartedly conceals a clumsy script and wooden performances behind a miasma of bombastic special effects.

All of the digital trickery in the world can't disguise the repeated missteps of director Eisner and three screenwriters, who imagine a present day in which crones and mankind live side-by-side in harmony.

Leading man Vin Diesel trades in the souped-up vehicles of the Fast & Furious franchise for voluminous facial fur as the hag-slaying hero, who has walked the Earth for 800 years, scything down the creatures of the night that threaten this fragile truce.

After the opening 15 minutes, we secretly pray he might take his blade to everyone on screen and bring an abrupt end to the preposterous hocus pocus.

Mighty warrior Kaulder (Diesel) belongs to a group called the Axe and Cross, which ensures witches do not abuse their powers against mankind.

Eight hundred years ago, he vanquished the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) but as she took her last breath, the wily crone transferred her immortality to Kaulder.

For centuries, Kaulder has protected us, aided by a succession of holy confidants including his latest handler, Dolan Thirty-Six (Sir Michael Caine), who is poised to retire and pass the mantle to Dolan Thirty-Seven (Elijah Wood).

When an assassin called Belial (Olafur Darri Olafsson) uses dark magic against the Axe and Cross in order to revive the Witch Queen, Kaulder saunters into action, aided and abetted by a sassy British sorceress called Chloe (Rose Leslie).

The Last Witch Hunter is an interminable bore, which foolishly places the weight of the film on Diesel's broad shoulders.

Without a hint of emotion or nary a spark of on-screen chemistry with co-star Leslie, he struts manfully through each set piece, bound for the inevitable final showdown that is as confusing as it is anti-climactic.

Oscar winner Caine lends gravitas to his underpowered role.

A final reel twist will surprise only the few members of the audience who are still conscious or care at that point. rating.....

PAPER PLANES (U) Starring: Ed Oxenbould, Sam Worthington, Ena Imai, Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke, Julian Dennison Director: Robert Connolly Duration: 97mins CHEESIER than a lump of mature cheddar, Paper Planes is a lifeaffirming drama about a grief-stricken boy, who heals his family's wounds with his gift for fashioning airborne missiles out of A4.

Sam |and Ed Director Robert Connolly and co-writer Steve Worland have evidently been watching Billy Elliot on repeat, which would explain why their pint-sized hero describes folding paper as an escape from reality in similar terms to the miner's son, who dreamt of becoming a ballet dancer.

Nothing is understated in Connolly and Worland's old-fashioned screenplay: every emotion is loudly verbalised, bullies learn valuable lessons about humility and selfabsorbed parents are brought to their senses by their precocious off-spring.

The Australian cast, including lead actor Ed Oxenbould, last seen in Worthington Oxenbould M Night Shyamalan's The Visit, hammer home the key tenets of this family-oriented adventure with gusto. Twelve-year-old Dylan (Oxenbould) is a student at Waleup Primary School in the Western Australian outback. He lives with his father Jack (Sam Worthington), who has given up on life - and Dylan - following the death of his wife, so the boy seeks comfort from his cantankerous grandfather (Terry Norris).

During a lesson at school, Dylan shows a natural flair for making paper airplanes and teacher Mr Hickenlooper (Peter Rowsthorn) encourages him to take part in national trials for the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan.

Dylan wins a place in the Australian team alongside spoilt brat Jason (Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke), whose father Patrick (David Wenham) is a retired golf pro.

The youngster befriends Japanese competitor Kimi (Ena Imai), who is a pint-sized sensei when it comes to the art of paper-folding.

Paper Planes should have the target pre-teen audience cheering in the aisles as Dylan overcomes adversity. Oxenbould is an appealing hero and he gels pleasantly with Worthington, who mopes around for most of the film and only really comes to life in the unabashedly feel-good finale.



Vin Diesel as Kaulder

Sam Worthington |and Ed Oxenbould
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 23, 2015
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