The Witcher – Season 1

Dropping just before Christmas, the Netflix original series highlights Geralt of Rivia’s adventures hunting monsters and finding his place in the world. Beware minor spoilers below as I toss a coin to your Witcher and spill the beans on the Butcher of Blaviken!

 

*****Minor Spoilers*****

 

Background

My knowledge going into the show was slightly limited but still more than most. I am a huge fan of the video game The Witcher 3. I sunk hundreds of hours into it and love both the lore and the characters re-imagined by CD Projekt Red. Rightfully declared Game of the Year in 2015 and to some folks (myself included) it’s one of the greatest games ever made. The trilogy of games were brought to life by CD Projekt Red but the source material came from a series of books written by Andrzej Sapkowski. That plus reading a few articles and checking out Wikis are about all the knowledge I had before watching the Netflix series.

 

Henry Cavill

Never my favorite actor in the past. I’ve always found him to be skating by on his looks and physique rather than acting ability. Turns out, I was very very wrong about Cavill. His performance as Geralt is reserved and nuanced and the perfect re-imagination of the character I know and love. It’s obvious that he’s also a huge fan of Geralt and has done his research. The gruff voice with layers of empathy. The sideways glances and knowing smirks. The heavy burdens of an outsider who doesn’t fit in shine through in his mannerisms and piercing stares. To sum it all up…..he is perfect as Geralt. The strongest performance of his career by far and a perfect set of broad shoulders to rest a series on.

 

Yennefer

Although this is clearly Geralt’s tale, there is one character who’s story shines. Yennefer’s character arc and origin story are probably the strongest in the series and her story is both original and expertly written. This may be down to the fact that she doesn’t really have an origin story in the books or games and the show writers were allowed to create something original which fits perfectly into this season. A special nod needs to go to Anya Chalotra who provides a strong and consistent performance throughout. Her transformation from beast to beauty is glorious and she commands attention in every scene she’s in.

 

Pacing & Time Jumps

It’s not all glorious praise. The show suffers from slow pacing issues although where the story progression grinds to a slow crawl, the action certainly doesn’t. Each episode has some glorious action scenes to keep you focused and desperate to binge watch the next episode. Action aside though, Geralt’s growth is non-existent after the first episode and Ciri’s long chase back to Geralt seems to go on and on. The time jumps are quite confusing although only catch you out once or twice. A quick subtitle with a timestamp on it wouldn’t go amiss but these are just minor gripes. Considering this is just the first Season, it’s clear they are slowly building something special. I can forgive the slow pacing when I’m left wanting more come the end of each episode.

 

Overall

A brilliant start. Some sublime action sequences. Beautiful scenery and a wonderful balance between the gorgeous and the grotesque. Great on screen performances all round. Slightly slow story progression but forgivable when you know it’s building to something great. A special mention is needed for the sword fight sequence towards the end of the first episode. If you’re not hooked after that, then this show is not for you!

I’d urge everyone to give this show a chance. The fans will love the nods to the games and books and new comers will love the action sequences and character plots. I am certainly looking forward to the person Ciri will become, hopefully sooner rather than later!

 

What did you think of the Witcher? Should Mark Hamill play Vesemir in Season 2 as rumored? Would you like to see Geralt’s trials in Kaer Morhen? Let me know in the comments below!

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