Ever since HBO turned George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones into a worldwide phenomenon, every major small screen combatant has been on the hunt for an epic science-fiction/fantasy tale it can alchemise into a similarly addictive TV series. Enter Netflix, which tapped creator and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (Marvel’s The Defenders) to adapt Andrzej Sapkowski’s sprawling book series The Witcher, which also inspired a collection of globally popular video games developed by CD Projekt Red. The goal is to deliver television’s next great saga.
The show’s pilot opens with its monotone antihero of a protagonist, still awash in monster blood from his latest kill. That very episode ends by intercutting between a brutal massacre, some ugly examples of mob mentality, and a full-on medieval mass suicide montage. Want serious TV fantasy? Rest assured, The Witcher screams at full volume and directly into your face.
The Witcher stars Henry Cavill, almost unrecognisable from his Superman persona, as Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter struggling to find his place in a world. He, along with the teenage Princess Cirilla of Cintra (Freya Allan) and the magical mage Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) serve as the show’s three main characters who are mostly trapped in disparate story lines through the first five episodes.
However, The Witcher races through much of the context surrounding their dire situations and the early events that set their plots in motion to the point of confusion. Character names, kingdoms, allegiances and betrayals, romantic entanglements, hidden bloodlines, power and politics all get lost amongst each other. Even book readers and game veterans will be in utter dilemma trying to sort the events properly.
Where The Witcher does excel is in the loud and bombastic moments. Every last penny of the show’s immense production budget was used to create a fully realised and immaculately crafted world. Worn down kingdoms invaded by mud and rot, colourful mystical locations that swirl with energy both tantalising and threatening, lavish sets that remove all semblance of modernity altogether brings in the effect of actually being transported to another world. The battle scenes are particularly expansive and ambitious, bubbling with riveting action and creative execution. It is made extremely evident during the pilot episode where Geralt cuts through ten men in 20 seconds.
The Witcher is most certainly not for the faint of heart and scores points for pure entertainment factor alone. It is by no means perfect but defiantly entertaining.
Tamim Bin Zakir aka Shwag_Lord (PSN ID) is an enraged individual who seldom thinks of being generous to others. Feel free to devour his tranquility at firstname.lastname@example.org