Review: The Witcher

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Does the enchanting world of The Witcher give us something as good as Game of Thrones or does it disappoint like the last season?
Words Yvonne Jacob

Let’s get this out of the way - Toss a Coin to Your Witcher, might not be the best anthem for someone who goes monster hunting when the world goes to sleep. Yep, we’re going to start here. While the song that glorifies the legend of the monster hunter may have hard-hitting lyrics, does it really suit his personality? We think not.

Based on the best-selling fantasy series of books, The Witcher is an epic tale of fate and family.  The highly anticipated series produced by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich was released on Netflix in its entirety on December 20, 2019. The series is centred around famed monster hunter, Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill), also known as the White Wolf. The series is set in the world of The Continent, where humans, elves, witchers, gnomes and monsters battle to survive and thrive. The Continent is the result of a mysterious cosmic event that caused all of the dimensions in the universe to collide and open up, dumping all its inhabitants onto The Continent. This event, in the series, is termed as the “Conjunction of the Spheres” and occurred two thousand years prior to where the story begins in episode 1.

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Geralt, in Sapkowski’s books, is cast as a lone, wandering ronin who is in search of work that earns him his coin, work being monster-slaying, of course. He plays the role of a Witcher, a dying breed of monster slayers who, through a series of mutations, has gained superhuman strength and agility, but at a cost of losing his emotions. Henry Cavill has appeared in many movies including Man of Steel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and his the characters he plays have always been unmissable with a heavy dosage of good looks and perfectly timed sarcasm. However, in the series, Cavill has been reduced to someone who’s dialogues are mostly “Hm” or Geralt’s other favourite, “F**k”. 

What you absolutely cannot miss here is the tiring effort taken into giving Geralt that (unnecessary) husky, Batman-like voice throughout the series that is almost robotic, even when he’s sweet-talking to his horse, Roach. However, the other characters, Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) and Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May) have done a commendable job at playing their part but they too fall short on the impact their characters are supposed to have on the viewers. Princess Cirilla (Freya Allan) barely cuts it. The plot since the beginning is all over the place until it starts connecting towards the end. The existence of certain characters like that of Renfri (Emma Appleton) is of questionable relevance to the story apart from that one message she passes on to Geralt.

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There are many areas of improvement that we see and the series could certainly use some more depth and drama with vital scenes that are supposed to give you goosebumps and go, “Oh f**k!” but you barely realise when the scenes pass. For example, the fourth episode with the Striga could have been far more dramatic, but then again, the duration of the intense scenes are probably as long as a pee break, you go and come back and the creature is dead. But it’s okay once you realise that there aren’t any intense fight scenes, except for the last one. Come on, they had to make the last one count, there’s no brownie points for doing their job right at last. 

The producer has done a fairly decent job at building the fantasy world that takes you to different locations with each episode and you get to watch Geralt slay all kinds of monsters but it does have something more to offer. However, to answer the question, it is not the next Game of Thrones, not even close. But if you give it a shot and watch it with an open mind, it grows on you a little bit towards the end. If you haven’t watched this one yet, you should consider adding it to your list, Henry Cavill wasn’t all that bad. It may not get you hooked onto it but it is definitely a good watch.

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