Review: “The Witcher”

The Netflix Original’s fantastical adventure is not to be reckoned with

This review contains spoilers.

“The Witcher,” a newly released Netflix Original, is simply a great show. Having released in December of 2019, it is a fateful adaptation from the original collection of stories written by Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski; nevertheless, to be warned, the show itself does not fully explain “The World of the Witcher” well enough for a general viewer to understand, and the non-linear storytelling is confusing. 

But first, what is a Witcher?

Witchers are known in this fantasy as an order of monster hunters. Young boys are taken from their homes and then trained to become these hunters. Then, the boys are given strict guidance to drink potions filled with mutagenic herbs, which will enhance their sense, vitality, strength, etc; however, only three out of the ten boys survive this process. Geralt of Rivia, the main character of the story, has gone through this ordeal but with advanced experimentation that in turn resulted in the growth of his white hair. His portrayal (played by Henry Cavil) is fateful to the video game adaptation of Geralt’s character, from the physical down to the tone of his voice. If you play a clip of Geralt from “The Witcher” video games and play a clip from the show, they sound nearly identical. In short, he proudly portrayed the Witcher Geralt of Rivia..

The world of “The Witcher.”

“The Witcher” world is interesting, yet extensive. The world that the Witcher inhabits is part of one of the many worlds in the multiverse, called the Continent, until an event called the Conjunction of the Spheres happens. Worlds collide, and the monsters inhabiting those worlds all come to the world we know. Humans in the world were not there originally. The true inhabitants were the elves, dwarfs and gnomes, and those that weren’t there previously are creatures of folklore-like depth like vampires and werewolves. With the rise of monsters, in addition to humans conquering new land, Witchers quickly rose to the most prominent monster hunters within the Continent. 

The TV series’s storytelling.

The series’ storytelling is split into three stories for the three main characters we follow, with each episode being split between the three characters. Geralt of Rivia, which takes place roughly twelve to twenty years before the events of the first episode happens. Yennefer of Vengerberg, a quarter-elf sorceress who is Geralt’s on and off again love interest (played by Anya Chalotra). Yennefer’s story takes place roughly seventy years before the first episode. While for Princess Cirilla (played by Freya Allan), or Ciri, her storyline takes place in the current time or rather from episode one and onward. There are other notable characters, like Triss Margold (played by Anna Shaffer) who is a sorceress like Yennefer and an on and off again love interest for Geralt, though not shown in the show. There is also the dandy bard Jaskier (played by Joey Batey), or “Dandelion,” who accompanies Geralt and sings about his adventures. He is used as a somewhat comic relief from the harsh reality the show can protrude.

Each storyline offers something different for the characters. Ciri, who ran from the invading human empire of Nilfgaard, saw how her grandmother’s action affected the kingdom she lived in her entire life. Geralt allows us to see how people don’t understand the unknown with the monsters and the Witcher species itself. Yennefer’s backstory was explored, since the short stories never expanded upon her magic training and life before becoming a sorcerer, previously only telling us that she was a hunchback before using magic to transform her into a beautiful lady. Her storyline is interesting and fun, to say the least.

The story lines all came full-circle in episodes six, seven and eight, when Geralt and Yennefer responded to Ciri’s escape and the Kingdom of Cintra’s fall to the Nilfgaard. Geralt is mostly tied to Ciri because of the ancient law called the Law of Surprise, while Yennefer is tied to Geralt because of the events following in episode five with him using a wish to tie their fates together. Overall, the episodes later intertwined the stories together smoothly. 

The show reckens itself as a medieval fantasy, which is an on-point classification considering the series’s mise-en-scene and cinematography is perfectly created. The music direction for the series is catchy with it being haunting to ballroom dance. The special effects (SFX) for the monsters and spells are splendid with the monsters given an oily, unclean and horrifying visage with the spells having a mythical quality without being flashy in practical combat. The action choreography and swordplay that was shot on film was thrilling with it being almost a waltz. This is beautifully displayed in episode four, where Geralt fought off the castle guards and guests at a banquet. The movements were entrancing and the clash of steel was thrilling. There is a lot of nude content displayed in the series considering the multiple bare-skinned scenes. In episode three, Yennefer transforms from a hunchback to a beautiful lady in an excruciating – yet naked – enchanting process. In episode five when Geralt and Yennefer first meet, Yennefer took over a mayor’s manor and put everyone in the manor under a spell that forces them into an orgy.

I highly recommend watching this series, and I have some advice: Toss a coin to your Witcher, Oh Valley of Plenty. 

~Felix Phommachanh, Staff Writer~

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