The Witcher Netflix Review: Confusion, Conquests, Cavill and Nothing Else
Movie Reviews

The Witcher Netflix Review: Confusion, Conquests, Cavill and Nothing Else

The makers of the show tried to experiment with the timeline to add suspense and drama but failed miserably

  • Movie Name The Witcher: Season One
  • Director Alik Sakharov, Charlotte Brändström, Alex Garcia Lopez and Marc Jobst
  • Actor Henry Cavill, Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra
  • Rating
  • Rating 2/5 Stars

If you’re a fan of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy series of novels The Witcher or if you’ve indulged in gaming and gone on adventures as the titular character, then and only then the new Netflix series will be a treat for you where Henry Cavill (yes, Superman himself) plays the role of Geralt of Rivia. The plot of The Witcher revolves around Geralt slaying monsters for ‘coin’, the only thing he cares about, where he meets a bard who, through his songs and poems, turns Geralt’s image from a butcher to one of a white wolf, a saviour of people.

The songs soon turn Geralt into a hero and his abrupt journey takes him to Cintra, one of the kingdoms ruled by Queen Calanthe. Geralt then helps fend off a catastrophe where he is awarded a Law of Surprise, a promise to claim anything that he wants at any time. Geralt, in haste, tells Calanthe’s son-in-law to give him that “he has, but yet doesn’t know of” and as soon as he utters the words Calanthe’s daughter, Princess Pavetta, vomits which cautions that she is pregnant. This turns yet-to-be-born Princess Ciri into the adopted daughter of Geralt. Meanwhile, Nilfgaard, a kingdom considered the weakest of them all comes to take down Cintra and does so successfully as Ciri flees to find Geralt, who in Calanthe’s words is her “destiny”.

While all of this is happening, Geralt somehow ends up saving Yennefer, a mage trained at Aretuza where she learns to turn chaos into magic and also morphs from a hunchback to a lovely young woman through sorcery. They fall in love but are shown to have a tumultuous relationship where they mostly disagree on stuff and eventually Yennefer breaks up and leaves Geralt. Season one ends with Nilfgaard trying to cross the bridge through Sodden Hill and into the next continent, but Yennefer breaks her boundaries loose and turns the army into ashes, while the show’s main character Geralt is fighting death in a delirious state after being bitten by a risen-from-the-ground, zombie-like monster.

There are multiple reasons why anyone, who has never known The Witcher beforehand shouldn’t watch the show. However, if you’re waiting for your other favourite seasons to pop up, The Witcher provides ample entertainment in the eight episodes to kill time. First and foremost, The Witcher, a Netflix Original, is all over the place when one talks about the plot. At one moment in time, you’ll see the Witcher making love to Yennefer and as soon as the scene changes, you’ll be thrown back into the past where he might be trying to rescue someone from the monsters he is so able to kill.

The makers of the show tried to experiment with the timeline of the show to add suspense and drama to the story, as they tease a character or a scenario and then take you back in the past to explain the origin of the character or the reason behind what is what, or why is something the way it is. However, their attempt fails miserably as the show lacks coherence. Thus, in order to watch The Witcher, you might have to bear through and wait till the finale where everything starts making sense, or at least some of it starts to make sense. Netflix has already promised a season two of the show and that may be one of the reasons why they left so many details and explanations out, but if the first season is supposed to do something, the only thing it will do is steer the crowd away from what promised to be an epic action-thriller.

Secondly, The Witcher seems like Harry Potter meets Lord of The Rings meets The Hobbit meets Narnia meets Game of Thrones meets many other fantasy shows or films which you must have seen in the last decade. The spells casted in the language Elder by Mages (male and female magicians), the prophecy-following Nilfgaard King, the dragon-finding dwarfs, the goat and porcupine-faced cursed humans, the green, red and golden dragons (the last one, the rarest of them all, with the ability to morph into a human being), the clash of different kingdoms and the mentioning of North and South may all ring a bell if you’ve seen the above-listed fantasy hits. Funnily, all of it makes it to The Witcher, which makes one doubt if there is any originality in the show apart from the character himself, who is in Sapkowski's works, a beast hunter who develops supernatural abilities at a young age to battle wild beasts and monsters.

While you are dealing with the confusion of where exactly you are in the timeline when every episode starts, you are also asked to remember what happened in episode one in order to understand what is happening in say episode seven. Also, the gaming fans would’ve admired if Geralt was put into battles more often, boasting his sword-wielding and ‘magical push’ skills, but disappointingly that doesn’t happen much too.

The Witcher, apart from all of this, has a lot of other things to offer apart from the story. Each episode starts with a different sigil – in true Game of Thrones fashion - on the title screen and the final episode converges them all into a wolf (representing Geralt), a swallow (representing Ciri) and an obsidian star (for Yennefer), which means that the season two (releasing in 2021, sadly) will bring these three into the spotlight. All in all, The Witcher promised a lot, but delivered a lot less. The show nevertheless promises potential to make a marvellous comeback.

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By Shaheera Anwar
A multimedia journalist who keeps a keen eye on the latest happenings in the world of entertainment and often writes reviews along with opinion pieces on some of the most-talked-about debates