The Witcher Review
by T. Knight
**** 4 Stars
You get the feeling they really wanted to create a world not only true to the books, but a world that could also stand on its own, with its own distinct feel.
Stars: Henry Cavill, Emma Appleton, Freya Allan, Jodhi May, Lars Mikkleson
You might have heard of the popular series of The Witcher games, and maybe even the series of books they’re based on. Following the success of both series, Netflix have decided to produce a proper series based on the novels, seemingly just in time to fill the hole left by Game of Thrones ending.
On the surface, the show seems to be your typical sort of high-fantasy drama, but it doesn’t take long for the show find its footing and deliver its own spin on medieval fantasy. The impressive opening battle between Geralt (Henry Cavill) and the Kikimora quickly sets up the tone for the rest of the episode, and promises more action and monster hunting to come. The design of the monster is delightfully gruesome and over the top, making for an enjoyable watch, and it goes to show the effort Netflix has gone into for the show. You get the feeling they really wanted to create a world not only true to the books, but a world that could also stand on its own, with its own distinct feel.
Following Geralt through Blaviken after the battle, the show continues to build an authentic world, and this is where the episode really gets going. The shows writers do a fair job with all the characters, and Geralt’s story throughout the episode, though simple, was easy enough to follow, and introduced some interesting lore for the show’s universe. Cavill gives an enjoyable performance as Geralt, even if he seems a little too stoic at times, and the strong supporting cast provide good performances alongside him – Emma Appleton as Renfri being the most memorable character for me. I felt the writers slipped up with the introduction of Ciri (Freya Allan) and the fall of Cintra, which happens some 30 years after Geralt’s time in Blaviken. The writers didn’t do enough to distinguish between the two time-frames, which could end up confusing viewers as the show goes on. Otherwise, the show does a good job with its pacing, and kept my interest throughout, despite the jarring time gap. The big fight at the end of the episode proved a very satisfying payoff, and was extremely well choreographed, again showing how much effort has gone into the show on Netflix‘s part.
Overall, the first episode of The Witcher was an enjoyable watch, with some great world building, well performed characters, and some wonderfully over the top action. A few confusing writing choices aside, I ended the episode intrigued as to what was going to happen next, and how the writers were going to tie all the different loose plot threads together. If you’re a fan of The Witcher books or the games, the show absolutely delivers, and if you’re just a fan of high-fantasy or drama, there’s plenty here to enjoy.
The Witcher is currently available on Netflix and was rated 15 by the BBFC.