Watch the video:
Listen to the podcast:
If there’s one thing Netflix’s the Witcher has over Game of Thrones it’s that the source material was completed long before the cameras rolled. There’s not going to be any money grubbing show runners hastily wrapping it up so they can move onto the next project.
It’s still a ways off being the event television that Thrones was. While it has some similar elements—fantasy, titties, sword fighting, political intrigue, magic and more titties—it’s kind of ridiculous to expect the show to be Game of Thrones.
The Witcher is more like a darker and sexier version of Hercules or Zena meets Hellboy.
Most people would have been introduced to The Witcher through the short stories and books by Andrzej Sapkowski or the awesome series of video games by CD Projeckt Red. The latest instalment in the game series ‘The Wild Hunt’ just might be one of the greatest video games of all time.
Who made it?
Initially The Witcher was set to become a standalone film until Netflix intervened and pushed for the novels to be adapted into a longer running series
Many expected the Netflix series to be a disaster, many thought the video game curse would apply to the TV series (in the same way it has for pretty much every video game movie ever made) and the majority of critics certainly geared their early reviews to that effect. The fans however, have counter punched and the Witcher has been listed as the third most ‘in demand’ original streaming series on debut, coming in closely behind Stranger Things and The Mandalorian. Not bad for something that is slightly more niche than the competition.
Such was the hype and anticipation for season one, Netflix went ahead and green lit season two before they even went live.
Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, who is best known for her writing on the The West Wing as well as production for Private Practice and Daredevil, has spoken out against the critics saying she is more concerned about what “real fans” think.
She recently tweeted, “who do I care about? ‘Professional’ critics who watched once episode and skipped ahead? Or real fans who watched all eight in one day and are starting their rewatch? I am fucking THRILLED”.
The story is set in a world known as the Continent and follows the story of a monster hunter named Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is a Witcher a human that has been mutated by magic to be strong enough to take toxic potions and fight monsters.
The Witcher’s world is full of things like elves and dwarves but, due to an event called the Conjunction of the Spheres, their world came into contact with other worlds inhabited by things like vampires and werewolves. The Continent is populated by kingdoms and factions that all have their own rivalries and agendas but the worst of them is Nilfgaard and you can tell they’re the baddies because of their black armour that looks way cooler than everyone elses. There’s also sorcerers like Yennefer of Vengerberg and a princess on the run from a Niflgaard invasion named Cirilla.
There’s three timelines to follow throughout the first season, Geralt’s, Yennefer’s and Cirlilla’s. There’s not a lot in the ways of explanation about said timelines early on which is confusing until more is revealed in later episodes. That could explain why some fans are rewatching!
Henry Cavill raised speculation among fans when he was cast as Geralt—with numerous articles highlighting actors like Viggo Mortenson, Madds Mikkelson or even Idris Elba being more suited to the role—however, he takes total ownership of the character in the opening scenes and audiences would be hard pressed to find a more perfect Geralt (even with a pretty shitty hairpeice). Cavill has been a huge fan of the books and the games for some time and it shows.
Anya Chalotra turns in a very physical performance as Yennifer and adds some emotional depth to the story in the wake of Geralt’s deadpan persona. Freya Allen feels slightly pasted in as Cirilla but fans will know how important her character becomes and hope to see a lot more of her in season two. The most fun to be had is when Joey Batey enters the story as the bard Jaskier adding light to Geralt’s shade, he is an excellent addition to the cast.
The special effects are ok, but some of the CGI seems a little cheap, and at their best when they move to the more practical stuff. The soundtrack is awesome, largely thanks to that catchy, if not campy ear worm “Toss a Coin To Your Witcher” supplied by Jaskier and the fight choreography is, for the most part, outstanding. Cavill does most of his own stunts.
They have taken some liberties in supplying more of a back story for Yennefer. A lot of critics have said that Yennefer’s story makes her look weak next to Geralt, which is in contrast to the books where they are equal in their strength and power, but this is something that’s open to interpretation. Some will see Yennefer’s character stronger both physically and emotionally after seeing what she has been through.
Witcher fans will love it and newcomers will find it enjoyable enough to make it through the first season even with those convoluted timelines.
The Witcher series has just the right amount of camp, it’s sexy without being gratuitous, has plenty of thrills to keep audiences happy and at its best when it gets into the darker, more monstrous subject matter.
The most fun you can have without a joystick.