The Witcher Review
I must confess I have been disappointed with the high tech fantasies and science fiction adaptations for a long time. Game of Thrones became such a disappointment (this is my opinion) and left such a bitter taste in my mouth, I will not even list my grievances here. I loved the film, John Carter (should have been John Carter of Mars), but the world claimed it a flop. I think people will rethink this in the future, as it is a magnificent adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs. But in this era of expensive comic book films with super heroes in tights, I long for good fantasy or science fiction film. Do not get me wrong, comic book films have a place, but there is a rich library of wonderful fantasy and science fiction literature going back decades that could be adapted today with the current technology and some great casting and writing.
Enter, The Witcher. I was happily surprised. I checked this out on Netflix with little hope. I knew it was based on a series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski and was also adapted to the video game world. I did not care if there was only one big name I recognized (Henry Cavill) in the show, as a good production does not need big names, just actors cast in the right role. I have never read the books, but I plan to now. I loved it, because it gave us a real hero, one who is not shiny and pure, but an abused warrior who tries to do the right thing. Henry Cavill, though a studly god physically, never really impressed me until now. He has found his signature role. His Geralt of Rivia was a seasoned warrior with a painful past. He has issues of abandonment. The transformation to change him into a Witcher made him an outcast, even though his main goal was killing monsters for the people who will not even thank him.
Geralt of Rivia thinks before he slays. He even tries to save some monster others say should die. Sometimes he is successful. He does not like to inflict pain, because he has endured so much himself. He is a hero, though a grey one. He has honor, yet is not a wimp. Geralt of Rivia has a code he lives by. He is alone in the world. what he has suffered would have turned most men insane, but he endures. He has a heart, but keeps it hidden. He is the perfect dark hero you want to cheer. Characters are so crucial to good storytelling, and this world has many. His love, Yennefer,(played by the wonderful Anya Chalotra) is an amazing sorceress and also has suffered in life and paid dearly for her powers. Geralt's friend the Bard, is one of the only light characters, but is needed to soothe the darkness of the character's tale. The system of magic the author created for this world is rich and amazing. The world is gritty and textured. It is a secondary world where all is possible.
The story of The Witcher in this first series (it has been renewed-yeah) is jam-packed with intro to characters, the world, and wars. Lots of war. It is a lot to take in at first. I will not go into detail here, as in the mere 8 episodes it served up quite a banquet to explain in my humble blog.
The bottom line is I enjoyed it and look forward to season 2. I plan to read the novels. And maybe drool a little bit over the image they created for Geralt of Rivia, the white-haired Witcher. Enjoy something that doesn't have tights. Henry Cavill's performance was restrained but not boring, with rare glimpses of dry humor and layers of emotional pain. His performance goes beyond the physical image, though many actors would stop there. Henry Cavill makes him real and layered. I am now officially impressed by Henry Cavill. I credit the other actors in the series too (too many to mention). These brilliant actors who made these fantastical seem real.
So watch The Witcher and judge for yourself. I loved it.
More to come later. Until then, read more fantasy!