There is a niche to take. Game of Thrones is no more and the small screen is orphan of great medieval fantasy epics. Inevitably, at first glance, The Witcher series review has all the weapons to succeed and reign in turn. Swords that collide, magic on all floors, larger than life monsters, Kingdoms that hate each other … But the saga written by a Pole (Andrzej Sapkowski) 30 years ago has not at all the same political ambition, neither dramatic. More inclined to entertain than to cheat, the new Netflix show event still succeeds in engaging the spectator, in a more classic style, with the airs of old “fantasy” tale of yesteryear.
Sword as powerfully as Aragorn
The adventures of Geralt de Riv – played by an inhabited Henry Cavill – badass and lonely warrior, who wields the sword as powerfully as Aragorn, are quite exciting to follow. With his faithful steed, he travels the different kingdoms of this imaginary world, without getting involved in the power games that cause conflict and destruction. Until the day when her destiny will be linked to that of the young princess Ciri de Cintra…
The scenery is superb, the battles beautifully choreographed and the visual effects quite stunning. A grandiloquent decorum which has the merit of completely immersing the spectator in this odyssey with a truly epic breath. A super-production with an overflowing ambition, which will amaze you, even if the uninitiated may be a little confused. Because The Witcher is pure fantasy. A romantic drama that ticks all the boxes, even if it means wallowing in the quaint, almost corny, image of the genre.
You have to hang on so as not to drown in this extraordinarily dense and complex mythology. But who was not struggling, at the time of the first season of Game of Thrones, to distinguish the Lannisters from the Targaryens, the Sauvageons from the White Walkers, and the Royal Guard from the Night Guard? Fortunately, the bold narration chosen by the designer, Lauren Schmidt, brings a lot of rhythm and maintains a constant interest.
What Schmidt clearly understands with regard to adapting The Witcher is that it is a hardcore fantasy series above all else. There is absolutely zero attempt to make this project palatable for those who can’t or won’t become invested in a massive world of make believe, especially one that, in terms of violence and nudity, gives Game of Thrones a run for its money. So, right off the bat, The Witcher will immediately appeal to its large and loyal fan base, though it may prove difficult to recruit those who, in the words of the inimitable Ian McShane, thought Thrones was little more than “T*** and dragons.”
Inhumans or Norman Reedus
This kind of silent and phlegmatic sheet music is always a challenge to play. We remember Anson Mount in the shoes of the Black Bolt by Inhumans or Norman Reedus alias Daryl in The Walking Dead , roles that have often earned them a feeling of antipathy or even half-hearted performances. In the same genre, the Witches, who undergo genetic mutations from their childhood depriving them of their emotions, are cold and distant with the rest of the population. Henry Cavill therefore worsens his voice and his gaze to camp Geralt, in an irregular partition and which may well cool spectators allergic to the archetypes of the monolithic antihero.
On the other hand, the British actor performs where he was expected at the turn. After several months of sword training, Henry Cavill agreed to do all his stunts even if he injured himself several times during the Blaviken massacre in episode 1. His favorite fight, moreover, of which he composed part the choregraphy. Slightly less successful, the battles against monsters sometimes border on the grotesque in terms of budget but are however inspired in the staging.
HBO monster series
Logically, many people see The Witcher series review as an heir to the HBO monster series. However, chasms separate the two works: they do not belong to the same sub-genre of fantasy, do not obey the same mode of distribution, are accompanied by various fan bases and are based on a culture and a good History distinct. Game of Thrones also didn’t have stars like Henry Cavill in its first season, while critics hadn’t been kind to him in the early episodes.
The plot of The Witcher is also much tighter and the only real common point shared with the show by David Benioff and DB Weiss is its female characters. Complex, independent and above all powerful (Ciri and Yennefer have magical powers), the women of The Witcher represent the most successful and captivating aspect of the series, supported by the convincing performances of young actresses Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra.
The Witcher Series Premiere
It is therefore not surprising to see that Lauren S. Hissrich and her writers are more comfortable telling their stories. The passages by Yennefer and Ciri are the ones that dare the most initiatives (under the control of Sapkowski, who came several times to watch the shooting). We mainly think of episode 2 and the return to the “quasi-modal” origins of the magician, who opens up a part of her much more cryptic past in the novels. A relevant point of view on this character, who catches the narrative errors, punctually plumbing the understanding and especially the immersion in this universe however fascinating.
On the one hand, we could criticize The Witcher series review for its sometimes nanardesque aspect and the coldness of its antihero, in addition to a narrative experience with several periods not always very well measured. On the other hand, Netflix never promised the famous “prestige” filed by HBO, which gave essential works such as Game of Thrones. In the end, The Witcher approaches a fantasy show in pulp sauce, with its qualities and weaknesses, its genius shots and its exhausted tropes to the core of Necrophage. A guilty pleasure, which grows as the episodes progress and which promises to start its tragic-heroic fable in a season 2 already validated by the American giant.