The Witcher Review: A Kick-Ass Adaption Of Monster Hunting, Magic And The Condition Of Being Different

The Witcher review with Henry Cavill

The Witcher is one of my favourite fantasy series of all time, with books and games telling the story of Geralt of Rivia in glorious fashion. So, naturally I was excited to hear that Netflix had decided to make a live action version of the series. But with that excitement came anxiety. Could Geralt’s story be adapted faithfully to the realm of TV? Could quintessential action hero Henry Cavill inhabit the gritty life of the White Wolf and make it believable? Or would the show follow in the footsteps of the final season of Game of Thrones as a car crash of epic fantasy proportions?

The answer is resoundingly positive. Netflix’s The Witcher is a love letter written in the blood of monsters and gilded with the magic of breathtaking fight scenes. The source material is in good hands with producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich.

Destined to be different than Game of Thrones

The comparisons between Game of Thrones and The Witcher are inevitable because they inhabit similar spaces of political intrigue, casual sex and violence. But The Witcher narrows down the focus to the relationship between the three main characters: Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri. Yes, there’s political backstabbing, wars between nations and gory battles. But the show doesn’t let all the noise drown out the stories of its most important players.

The Witcher is much more of a horror detective show, which involves Geralt hunting monsters of the week across eight episodes. Each monster is a work of grotesque art, especially the striga that Geralt stalks in the dark corridors of a royal crypt. And with every fight, Cavill brings The White Wolf to life in wonderful detail.

I’ll admit to being skeptical when I first heard about Cavill’s casting. But after watching the show I can say that I was so glad to be proven wrong. Cavill does a great job of portraying Geralt, grunting, sassing and slashing his way across The Continent. He delivers an understated performance with body language and facial expressions that convey more than words could.

Cavill is joined by Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg and Freya Allen as Ciri. Both deserve praise for their performances as well. Chalotra is electric as the enigmatic sorceress who ensnares the witcher’s heart. We get to see her scratch and claw her way from nothing, watching every insecurity and quirk unfold.

Allen has some excellent moments with the material that she’s given, showing Ciri’s vulnerability and desire to find what she’s looking for. I liked the fact that the Netflix adaptation provides a window into the past of Yennefer and Ciri, which isn’t present in the books or games. You get to see who they are before they met Geralt and what motivates them.

Beautiful choreography and grim humour

The fight scenes of The Witcher are beautiful, fluid acts of utter carnage. In the first episode, Geralt battles a group of bandits in the town of Blaviken and the sword work is phenomenal. But while there’s plenty of violence, the show never gets lost in bleakness, thanks to comedic timing from Cavill and his colleagues.

There’s a lot to like about Joey Batey as Jaskier, the irreverent bard who leads Geralt into all kinds of problems and difficult situations. Far from an annoying sidekick, Jaskier’s fast-talking provides a good counterpoint for Geralt’s grimness.

What may bother some viewers is the non-sequential storytelling. Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer’s stories take place across different time periods, but you shouldn’t let that put you off. Patience is rewarded in later episodes.

There’s no doubt that Netflix’s The Witcher had a lot of pressure to live up to by standing apart from the game series and books. Borrowing from both, the show manages to carve out a unique identity that’s as memorable as Geralt himself.

For more Witcher related resources, be sure to read the following:

The Witcher: Curse Of Crows review

Comic Kitchen: Geralt of Rivia

Season Of Storms review

Dark Horse Geralt of Rivia statue review

Author: thecomicvault

Short story writer, comic geek and cosplayer hailing from Manchester, England. Find my pop culture ramblings on The Comic Vault.

8 thoughts on “The Witcher Review: A Kick-Ass Adaption Of Monster Hunting, Magic And The Condition Of Being Different”

  1. I haven’t seen the comics or the games, which can often be a good thing when you approach a live action adaptation. But I do tend to view these with some skepticism as I feel like often live action just can’t pull off the artistic atmosphere and special effects that work in a comic or game. With your approval – I think I just might give this a try!

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  2. Great review. I’m unfamiliar with the books and the video game, but I was looking forward to this show and am glad it’s so good. I really enjoyed it. The trajectory threw me off. It took a while for me to realize it’s two different timelines, so the storytelling came off as a bit choppy to me at first. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next season.
    I was a bit skeptical about Cavill in the lead role too, but I think he did (and looks) great. I saw an interview where he said he’s a big fan of the games and pushed to get the lead role.

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