X-Geeks

The Witcher (Season One) Review

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

His name is Geralt of Rivia, the Butcher of Blaviken, the White Wolf… and with Henry Cavill leading the charge, The Witcher is destined to be Netflix’ next big hit!

Based on the popular video game franchise and books by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher follows the trio of Geralt (Henry Cavill) – a Witcher, Ciri (Freya Allan) – a young princess and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) – a sorceress, through their individual journeys within ‘the Continent’. Monsters, mystery and magic are in bountiful supply throughout the series, which helps to supplement the fine storytelling, exciting action and terrifying horror!

Going into this series, I was armed with the knowledge of all the books and the tutorial level of The Witcher 3. So I felt like I was more than enough prepared to do battle with this fantasy epic, without the need of too many potions to assist me! The first episode really sets out the tone of the series and it is simply incredible! From layered characters, storytelling and fight choreography, this first entry into the series sets the benchmark very high! And, I am pleased to say, the episodes that followed managed to keep up with the pace! The series gets stronger as our understanding of these characters and the story develops. Sure, there are many positives that make The Witcher a success, but for me, the most vital aspect of the show is how great the characters and cast are. They make this show, so that even if the other positive elements where missing, the show would still be of a really high standard!

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Sticking with the cast, Cavill is perfect as Geralt, I thought Superman was the ideal role for him, but after seeing this? I would argue that Geralt might be his greatest ‘fantastical’ character to date! Freya Allan is really good casting for Ciri as I feel she manages to perfectly portray that wild mix of vulnerability and overwhelming strength. While I’m not the biggest fan of Yennefer (I’m #TeamTriss), Anya Chalotra’s performance throughout this series is truly remarkable. She brings such power and intensity to the role and features in some of the most brutal and visceral scenes featured in the show. Supporting this trio, Witcher favourite Jaskier (Dandelion to you and me) features and is played by Joey Batey. While he may not naturally look the part, he certainly acts it, with his wonderful vocals delivering some very memorable songs… Yes. I know you are singing it too… “Toss a coin to your Witcher, O’ Valley of Plenty” – *Ahem* Where was I? Oh yes! Nope, it’s stuck in my head now, time to move on!

You can tell that Netflix put some money behind the show, as the production value is very high. While it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface, when it comes to locations and scale, you still get that epic feel when watching it. As good as the world and show aesthetics look, the fight choreography is something else! It was hard-hitting and well put-together, which just made the action setpieces ten times more special. The pacing of the show is also really well managed, even the ‘monster of the week’ episodes felt like they were always pushing on at least some elements of the main plots or characters. There has been some criticism of how the show handles ‘time’, but as this was commonplace in the books, I didn’t really notice it nor thought it was handled badly so that it had a negative impact on the show. For me, this wasn’t an issue.

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Is The Witcher perfect? No. It has a few teething issues, but these, on the whole, are minor. For a first series, it does a fantastic job, over the eight episodes, in establishing and developing the characters and the story in a rich and exciting way. As great as this show is, you just feel like they were also finding their feet at times which, for me, can only be a positive thing for season two! There is so much more to come from The Witcher, and with such a large collection of material to pull from, if handled well, they can be producing plenty of great tales for years to come!

Overall, The Witcher is an exciting and entertaining watch that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are well layered as are the stories within the show. The fantastic fight choreography and the perfect blend of fantasy drama and action see the eight episodes go by in the blink of an eye. Bring on Season Two!

What did you make of the first season of The Witcher? Let us know in the comments!

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