The Witcher, which some say is Netflix’s answer to Game of Thrones, is finally here. Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s stories, which also inspired a hugely popular series of open-world RPG video-games, the world of the witcher resembles Westeros in many ways. For one, it is a gritty, dirty world full of violence, sex, and so on. For another, there is no clear division of good or bad like in most fantasy tales.
However, The Witcher boasts of a lot of magic and fantastical creatures, which George RR Martin’s novels shied away from. The hero itself, Geralt of Rivia, is a mutated human with superhuman abilities. Game of Thrones in comparison had magic, but only on the periphery, at least in the first few seasons.
The Witcher stars Henry Cavill in the titular role of Geralt. A witcher, Geralt belongs to a creed of people with enhanced physical and mental abilities as well as rudimentary magical powers. Witchers get rid of otherworldly monsters for a price. But in the dark, cynical world of the Continent, it is more often than not the people themselves who prove to be the real monsters.
The show follows Ciri (Freya Allan), the princess of a kingdom lost to invaders from the south, and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), a sorceress apart from Geralt. Geralt and Yennefer’s destiny gets interlinked with that of Ciri and the two join forces to protect the child from those who would harm her.
The acting is surprisingly good, with almost no false notes. Cavill is a revelation. This role allowed the British actor to show a lot more emotions and vulnerability than either Superman or August Walker (his character in Mission: Impossible – Fallout). The actor gives a nuanced performance, and even his voice sounds more like Geralt of the video-games with a deep, rough quality to it.
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The Witcher’s visual effects are absolutely stunning, and a lot of attention has clearly gone into the choreography of sword fighting sequences. This is good because the Witcher stories have a lot of those. Geralt has a knack of getting himself into scraps.
The sheen of high production values in the show has a base of some really good writing by creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and other writers.
The Witcher is highly entertaining. But mind you, it is true to the books, and not the games. The show adapts the books and not the games. This might annoy those who have only played the games. But if you have read the stories, the series does a good job in depicting the Continent and should satiate the fan in you.
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