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So, my only experience of The Witcher has been some second hand knowledge of the games. Meaning I knew the names of a few characters, a couple of tidbits (i.e. the basic premise of what a Witcher is and why he has two swords) and that's it. Hopefully this review will someone in a similar position an idea of if it's worth a look.
With no prior expectations, my main impression of the series is the same feel as 90's adventure shows, like Xena: Warrior Princess and its lesser spinoff (you know the one). Indeed, Jaskier gave me strong Joxter t' Mighty vibes. I also felt a lot of similarities with a certain other fantasy Netflix adaptation. If that's the sort of thing you're after, you're on the right track.
Our premise is simple at first; our main character, the supernaturally enhanced Pro Human Trans Human Geralt wanders the land as a D&D murder hobo (in the nicest possible way), killing monsters for money, quaffing potions and making sound ethical decisions despite an abundance of Fantastic Racism and the sheer irritation of his on/off bard companion and hype man. His Love Interest Yennefer meanwhile studies at a dark and edgy wizard school after being purchased from an abusive family. The third major plot thread involves Ciri, a 12 year old Fallen Princess who's forced to run for her life after her grandmother's kingdom is sacked. The three's stories start to intersect in the background of a previously backwater kingdom beginning to conquer the rest of the world (Ciri's homeland being their beachhead).
The main barrier to the story is something I considered a plus; half way through the season you'll realise the plotlines are occurring years apart. After you realise this (or know from the start because it's hard to recommend the series without explaining that), everything starts to click like Baccano! and sets up the finale.
Along with this, there's some decent fight scenes, catchy music and genuinely compelling characters. Marred (perhaps enhanced?) only by the odd bit of dodgy CGI.
Overall, I'd enthusiastically recommend it, and even though I'm not playing the games for now (for personal reasons), it's got me very interested in reading the novels.
And don't forget to throw a coin to your witcher...
So at long last, the trepidation triggering series The Witcher is out on Netflix. I've spent the entire year listening to people fretting over every new detail about this show. "Oh no, look at his wig!" "Oh no, it's going to have black people in it!" (goddamnit internet, get a grip). Now it's out, and having seen the entire arc, what I can now finally safely say is...
...confusing? This is based on a book I've already read, so I should already know the story its telling, but the show presents the tale of magic and medieval intrigue out of order, time skipping between a couple of periods decades apart without warning. What makes it more confusing is that many of the magical characters don't visibly age, so you often don't have a quick way of knowing whether this is backstory stuff or the present day. For what its worth, I didn't think much of the book Blood of Elves, and part of that was how little story there actually was, so perhaps this was the show's way of getting around it. But the result is something really messy that will be especially confusing to new comers.
That's a major misstep, because this series is clearly desperate to attract refugees from the Game of Thrones fanbase. It's the reason for why it presents Geralt as the hench lothario version from the games, and not the gnarled up, ropey weirdo from the books. There was a lot of angst from Witcher fans who wondered if Cavill was up to the task of representing their precious hero, and I think he does a decent enough job. He can do the fencing choreography well, he looks good in a bath tub, and he knows how to grunt. The rest of the cast are fine at what they do as well, though some fans of the game will be confused at how little characters like Triss resemble their redheaded waifu.
A bigger problem isn't the looks of the show, but the sounds. Everyone is slightly over-acting, over annunciating mock medieval dialogue like an amateur Shakespeare production. The worst is Tissaia, the head of a mage school, who is somehow able to pronounce the word "magic" with five ems. Geralt sounds like a man putting on a deep voice, rather than a man with a deep voice. "You smell of lilac and gooseberries" is a particularly hilarious line when said in the gruffest and most serious voice possible. A lot of scenes undercut by him and the other actors devouring the scenery this way.
Overall, it was okay. I was sometimes bored by the amount of dialogue and I wasn't following the story super well, but whenever Geralt gets into an action scene or a moral quandary that threatens his neutrality, the show gets more interesting.
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