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The Witcher review: An epic tale of monsters, magic and destiny

Envoy Score: 4/5

Warning! Spoilers Ahead

Netflix’s The Witcher made its much awaited entry into the web space on 20 December 2019. Contrary to initial scepticism, it is an amazing series and worth every minute. It also serves as an extra special treat if you’re a fan of the books and video-games. It truly does justice to Andrzej Sapkowski’s books.

The Story

The story takes place in a fictional land known as the Continent. It draws comparisons to medieval Europe with a minor difference which is the presence of monsters, magic, sorcerers, witchers and the like.

The narrative focuses on 3 major characters, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) and Princess Cirilla (Freya Allan). All stories start from a different point in time and eventually converge in the present towards the end.

Geralt’s narrative begins from him slaying a beast (a kikimora) in the swamps near a town called Blaviken. It is established early on that his life is just about monsters and money. Yennefer on the other hand is a hunchback who is sold to a sorceress by her father who despises her.

She eventually goes on a journey of self discovery and transforms from an under confident and hated cripple to a beautiful and powerful sorceress. Cirilla is a young princess of the kingdom of Cintra which is attacked by Nilfgaard and she looses everyone she loves in one night.

Her grandmother, The Queen’s dying words to her are “Find Geralt of Rivia.” She insists on it and reveals that it is Ciri’s destiny to do so. She has an ancient power within her which required her to be saved in order to restore order.

The narrative then keeps shifting from one character to another as they fight their individual battles. The entire plot slowly builds towards an eventual intersection of these character’s paths and what they go through in order for that to happen.

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The Witcher is here. #WitcherNetflix

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Performances

When Henry Cavill was cast as Geralt of Rivia, he had his fair share of doubters. But, he proves them wrong spectacularly. He embodies Geralt with great ease. His stony witcher expressions which hide a subtle hint of emotion are so believable that you forget he is the same guy who we’re used to seeing as superman.

He looks like Geralt is supposed to; big, bad and intimidating. It shows that he is a die hard fan of the series with the amount of effort he’s put in for the role. He’s done all his action himself as well and its probably the best sword combat I have seen in recent times in entertainment.

Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan shine in their respective roles. Chalotra is an outright bad-ass as Yennefer. Her gradual transformation is so amazing to witness and she makes the transition so effortlessly. I went from feeling sorry for her to hailing her as a goddess over the series and its all because of her acting ability.

Allan was surprisingly awesome as well. Playing Ciri, the lion cub of Cintra is a great task as she too has a lot she goes through to find Geralt. She plays the young and naive princess very convincingly and she keeps up with the character’s demand for a range of emotions as the story progresses.

The supporting cast throughout the 8 episodes has also done a phenomenal job. Some of the more prominent performances were by Joey Batey as Jaskier the Bard, MyAnna Buring as Tissaia, Jodhi May as Queen Calanthe, Adam Levy as Mousesack and Eamon Farren as Cahir.

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Positives

There are endless positives to choose from but firstly, it has to be the writing and direction. Creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich has made sure that her directors and a long list of writers have done a fantastic job.

Geralt’s is beautifully crafted and Yennefer and Ciri are prime examples of how to write powerful and positive female characters. The narrative is tightly woven and everyone’s presence has a purpose. Secondly, the fantasy genre requires a lot of VFX and CGI which is at its a game in The Witcher.

Not a single frame feels fake and all the magical and unreal elements blend seamlessly into the real ones. The monsters which are an essential part of the lore are brilliantly done. Some of them are genuinely terrifying.

Which also brings me to the makeup and costumes which were fantastic. The different coloured contact lenses could have been very distracting but it was surprising to see that they worked well especially in Cavill’s case.

The music is another aspect of The Witcher that just takes the cake. Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli have done a remarkable job in producing some of the finest OSTs and BGM for the series which adds more soul into it.

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Now presenting, a Jaskier original composition 🎶

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Negatives

Even though it is a great addition to entertainment, The Witcher is not perfect. The first problem I had with it is that the plot focuses on destiny a lot. The theme of fate and destiny forms a major part of the narrative which is great, but every character mentioning it every 10 minutes gets very repetitive.

Another problem I faced was with recognising the different time periods in every character’s narrative. You would think that all events are occurring simultaneously as there are no indicators mentioning otherwise. It takes a lot of concentration to follow sometimes. I had moments where I had to pause and rewind to fully understand what had happened.

Another tiny nitpick would be its pacing. Sometimes, it just drags a little bit and the flow breaks a little bit.

Worth It?

Without a doubt it is worth it. The Witcher is a breath of fresh air with some of the finest work by a lot of talented artists. It has the potential to take away those Game of Thrones blues with a sprinkle of a lot more beasts, sword fighting and a great story which also ends with a cliffhanger. Season 2 cannot get here soon enough.


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