The Witcher is a new Netflix series which I thought was based on a series of videogames (which I haven’t played), but is also based on a series of books… which I also haven’t read.
Henry Cavill plays Geralt of Rivia… as opposed to Geralt of somewhere else? Anyhoo, he’s a monster hunter, and monsters don’t like to be bumped off, as we see from the opening scene.
I’ve only seen the first two episodes so far, and I can’t go into too much detail because to do so would be to give spoilers, but as he meets a stunning woman called Renfri (Emma Appleton – Traitors), a man called Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen – Borgen) and before long, you realise just how much the subtitles help, because everyone has a name which sounds like a random set of letters drawn from a Scrabble bag. That said, for one charactere, the name Nohorn sounds rather unfortunate.
What I want and expect is lots of action, and this first episode has a lot of scene-setting, but the dialogue is quite amusing, Episode 1 has a nice, gory battle scene and a lot of shouting, cliched pained – seemingly final – discussions, and whatever happens, the sound thunders all around the speakers. Then at another point, Geralt walks through a mysterious portal into a world where there are naked women. I have no real idea what’s going on, but what we do know is that only Geralt can sort things out and take out the trash!
Even if I try to understand, it’s so slow, and there’s so little going on.
Occasionally the dialogue is very much modern parlance, such as when Geralt’s having a quiet drink in the pub in episode 2, a man with a lute spots him and says “Hey, you’re the Witcher!”, and as he slowly storms off in a huff, they shout, “Called it!”
Hence, while I always got the impression that the games were very serious in tone, this is played too much for laughs, and feels out of place compared to the extreme violence I was expecting.
If I had someone following me about, singing “Toss a coin…”, I’d deck them quick smart. I expected a moody drama, and he turned it into Stallone’s Judge Dredd with Rob Schneider following him about.
Although I haven’t played these games, I have enjoyed Red Dead Redemption 2 which, like The Witcher, also has a lot of standing around and talking, but.. I want to LIVE in that world! Maybe the same will happen with this one, too, if I play those games? I’d give The Witcher III: Wild Hunt a try if a demo was available rather than laying out £25 on it.
Henry Cavill ditched the Superman role to take on this character, after he completed Justice League, and while that movie was mostly derided by those who watch superhero movies, it – and Suicide Squad – was one of the few I actually liked! Y’see, I am right and everyone else is wrong.
However, as enjoyable (for me) as Justice League was, overspending, plus a change of director as a result of a very sad situation, and the film was a flop, and it’s difficult to see how Warner will pull the DC Comics movies back, aside from just relying on Aquaman and junk like Shazam.
Finally, I would say The Witcher is definitely NOT aimed at kids, but then again, they’ve most likely already played the games, and they’ve seemed violent fantasy drama before, so go for it. Just be wary it’s a 15-certificate.
The Witcher is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from today.
Episode 1 Score: 5/10
Episode 2 Score: 2/10
Geralt of Rivia: Henry Cavill
Princess Renfri: Emma Appleton
Princess Ciri: Freya Allan
Yennefer of Vengerberg: Anya Chalotra
Queen Calanthe: Jodhi May
King Eist Tuirseach: Björn Hlynur Haraldsson
Mousesack: Adam Levy
Tissaia de Vries: MyAnna Buring
Fringilla Vigo: Mimi Ndiweni
Sabrina Glevissig: Therica Wilson-Read
Cahir: Eamon Farren
Jaskier: Joey Batey
Stregobor: Lars Mikkelsen
Istredd: Royce Pierreson
Sir Lazlo: Maciej Musial
Dara: Wilson Radjou-Pujalte
Triss Merigold: Anna Shaffer
Marilka: Mia McKenna-Bruce
Nohorn: Packy Lee
Vyr: Luke Neal
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.