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Netflix's The Witcher Henry Cavill-Season Two

Netflix’s The Witcher Review-A Gorgeous Epic Fantasy

The Witcher which premiered on Netflix today is fantastic nerd porn for the fangirl in all of us.

Netflix’s The Witcher which premiered today is based on the novel series by Andrzej Sapkowski. It consists of six novels, two short stories, and a gaming franchise.┬áNetflix intends to fill the void Game of Thrones left when they closed the door on that less than great final season. It definitely fills the fantasy void, but to compare the two cheapens them both. For the shield and sword community, this is a far more overtly magical and political world. It has more in common with Amazon Prime’s The Expanse than GoT.

More akin to the underappreciated Shannara Chronicles, The Witcher is full of magic, double crossings, and mystical creatures. I had my doubts that this ambitious story would translate to the screen without becoming hokey. Anyone who has ever sat through CW’s The Outpost knows what I mean. I should not have worried, however. My patience was rewarded fairly quickly with a compelling story and interesting characters that will already garnered a season two.

The first episode and a half serve a purpose. Anyone who has read the novels knows this is a rich environment of cultures, history, and rules. It required record-fast world-building while developing a core of characters we love and love to hate. To create a visual world as amazing as the book series in under 90 minutes is nothing short of miraculous.

The Continent

The world of The Continent is a tumultuous place with all living creatures, in all dimensions unceremoniously dumped onto The Continent by a mystical cosmic event called the Conjunction of the Spheres. Humans prove the most adept at brutality and succeed in pushing the Elves, the native inhabitant of The Continent, out and retaining magic for themselves. That, in turn, creates an Elvish community that is angry, desperate, and at times rebellious to the point of terrorism. The parallels to current world events and historic European history is no mistake.

This is an enormous world with epic battlefields and intimate hidden forests. Every castle detail is gilded and furred. Landscaped are shot in super wide-angle with washed-out coloring and rolling grasses. An environment that is as harsh as it is beautiful, Bold jewel tones coincide alongside the pale greys and greens of nature.

Production design by Andrew Laws breathes life into this ultra imaginary setting. The Witcher was shot in over 100 locations across, Budapest, Hungary, Poland, Spain, and the Canary Islands. Smart design allowed for a plug and play mode of set work that led the viewer on an epic adventure while not traversing the globe. Locations and sets were reconfigured to give a new look and feel to each new location. By far, the best set is the hourglass shop. which is impressive and creepy. Each hourglass is different from the next. The singularly themed shop conveys a message of calculation and manipulation.

The Novel Series Chronology

The events of the series do not follow the same chronological order of the novels, but rather take storylines from all of the plots and weave them together in new ways.

The Characters

The series primarily deals with Geralt of Rivia(Henry Cavill) who is the Witcher or Hexer depending on your translation from which the series is titled. He along with others like him have been molded since birth to be warriors. A sort of gene therapy by way of potions and spells combined with physical training have created humans who are stronger, faster, more powerful, and more indestructible than others.

The mutations also change their appearance and make most of the Witchers unsympathetic to situations and people. Cavill’s Geralt is unique among his fellow Witchers and because of his particular predilection to involve himself in political plays and grudging emotional connections he finds himself in one intrigue after another.

Cavill himself is steely control and simmering sexuality. DC’s current Superman was made to play the anything but cold Geralt. He is a physically imposing presence in every scene and manages to instill plenty of honesty and intensity in every glance.

Yennefer(Anya Chalotra) is an imposing sorcerous with a crippling past and an inability to trust others. She is born with a spinal and bone condition which leaves her twisted and deformed. Her own father sold her to Tissaia(MyAnna Buring) a teacher of the magically gifted. Yennefer is especially adept at tapping into Chaos which is sort of the fantasy version of the Force. She is part Elf which is both a curse and a source of her power.

When circumstances present themselves she agrees to a spell to reset her spine and make her beautiful. The payment is the loss of her womb. She becomes beautiful and powerful but still finds it very difficult to trust anyone. Her and Geralt along with Ciri must navigate the politically charged world and band together for the sake of the entire universe. Chalotra is a stunner who burns the screen before and after her transformation. Along with her amazing looks beats a captivating character that steals every scene she is in.

Beautiful makeup and costuming enhance Chalotra’s charms. Perhaps the most successful section of the entire firsts season features her painful and bloody transformation into the gorgeous mage. Her style continues to grow and change along with her confidence throughout the season.

She is motivated by a desire to connect with someone who will love her. She wants a child. In lieu of that, she wants a companion even though she is terrified to trust anyone.

Yennefer Netflix The Witcher
Courtesy of Netflix

The youngest member of the core trio is Ciri Princess of Cintra(Freya Allen). Fans of Into The Badlands will recognize her as a young Minerva. She once lived in a palace with her grandmother the Queen but now fights for her life. Allen brings the same determined innocence to Ciri that she forged in Minerva. This literal screaming meemie has real power and may not know how to totally use it yet, but is learning quickly. She is another of the famed babies of the black sun. Kept in hiding these past years, she must release her power to protect herself.

The Bard Jaskier(Joey Batey) is Geralt’s friend, confidant, entertainment, and all-around comedic sidekick. Batey is extremely likable and possesses the innate ability to self deprecate without becoming a joke himself. Rather he is the humor behind the jokes. Jaskier allows for the greatest amount of plot development by knowingly providing exposition. Combined with nimble writing by Beau DeMayo Jaskier is more clever than he appears and much more valuable as a friend to Geralt than The Witcher lets on. He brings a lightness to some extremely dark moments like his cursing in episode five. That same event leads to Geralt and Yennefer meeting.

Renfri(Emma Stapleton) who was born under the black sun is considered a human monster. Those female infants who were born under the sun have mutations caused by their birth during this period. In addition, they are especially cruel and strong. Geralt is dispatched to find and kill her. He succeeds after temporarily falling for her. She turns up throughout the series as a moral conscience to Geralt’s more barbarous ways. She no doubt will continue to haunt Geralt in season two.

The Creatures

F/X work by Julian Parry is some of the best in any series featuring this many creatures and different looks. Each character is as unique from the one before with their own set of personality traits and looks.

The giant spider creature which opens episode one is the Kikimora from the novels. It is a beast that lives in swamps, takes the form of spiders and steals children. They are massive and super anti-social. For most, they are a formidable foe, but for our Witcher it is hardly a contest. Their battle prepares the uninformed viewer that Geralt is “OP”.

There is a subtle fury hiding behind the eyes of the Elves. They are outcasts in their own land who have nowhere to go. Their styling is less ethereal than gritty and they are as sympathetic a group as any in the series despite their many acts of terrorism.

The Striga is a monster living in a fourteen-year-old princess. She brings Geralt’s sense of right and wrong firmly into focus. He must battle the monster to try to save the princess without killing the beast or dying himself. It is a much more interesting approach to his job description and a nice parallel to Renfri’s death.

The would-be suitor Lord Urcheon of Erlenwald (Duny) is a half hedgehog person who is easily the sweetest of all the creations. His spike prosthetics instead of dehumanizing him highlight his desires, nobilities, and kindness. The resulting weddings bring Geralt and Jaskier have lasting effects on the overall story.

Dragons, Ghouls, and Basilisk round out the remainder of the impressive creature work. Each is well done with interesting mixes of textures, colors, and sizes. The Basilisk is particularly cool and his demise is handled effectively.

Netflix The Witcher will get a season two
Courtesy of Netflix and Katalin Vermes

By the end of the eighth episode Ciri, Geralt, and Yennefer have joined forces and realized the importance they have to one another. They have formed relationships with each other and alliances have been forged. The group has also made many enemies. Regret and ambition, duty and morality keep the group in danger from outside forces and on occasion themselves.

Netflix’s The Witcher is a lovingly crafted, detailed bit of fantasy fluff for your winter break enjoyment. Costume design by Tim Aslam works in tandem with storytelling and direction to do justice to a beloved series and characters. The Witcher is a sexy, ambitious romp that perfectly captures the tone and feel of the series and novels. The eight-episode long season is not long enough to tell the lengthy story. With enormous potential and enough storylines for 85 more episodes, there is plenty to all but guarantee a season two. Netflix has shown commitment to fan favorites like Another Life, The Witcher is no different.

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  1. Pingback: Everything You Need To Know About The Witcher's Kikimora and Shtriga - Signal Horizon Magazine

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