Review: The Witcher – Of Monsters Magic And Loveable Mutants

With a vast empire, spawning with comics, an earlier tv series, a movie, a slew of video games, a role-playing game, card games – when it comes to taking upon the task to recreate this fantasy franchise series fit for Netflix; intimidating would be an understatement. The Witcher is a dark, funny, intense and sometimes uncomfortable production developed by Lauren Hissrich  (a writer and producer, most recently, for the series “The Defenders” and “The Umbrella Academy”).

With the release of the series and an already existing cult following, the result has been mountains of reviews, some bitter, some elated, almost each comparing the show to its video games, the book series as well as fantasy based show Game of Thrones. No matter what team you’re on, Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher is complex and we’re here to help you get a head start.

Witcher fans (Readers and Gamers)

There is a lot of baggage the Witcher carries from being associated with an RPG, that being said fans of the games and or books might have a hard time of thinking of anyone else as Geralt other than the version they’ve spent so many hours with. However, played by Witcher enthusiast Henry Cavill himself, a uniting opinion on all sides perhaps remains his dedication to the role.

“This series starts confusingly, but if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and trust in the show, it pays off in spades. Henry Cavill gives a great performance as the titular Witcher Geralt, somehow both inhabiting the physicality and leaden character of the video games (with its inexpressive face) and elevating the role into something dramatic and expressive for big-budget television” – Naila Ilyas

I have played every Witcher game, and many of my friends have as well… We absolutely love this adaptation and Henry killed it as Geralt – Ali Newaz

“If you’ve played the games, there will be some disappointments, especially the casting of some key characters but still it is a very good pilot season, keeping in mind that it’s a build up for a very vast storyline and universe”. – Syed Abbas Razvi

Other than talk of Geralts gruff and sarcastic – batman like demeanor, there have been heated debates over the timeline of the show. Akin to X-files or Supernatural each episode – many of which are adapted explicitly from the short stories; tasks Geralt with solving a monster related problem.  Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny collections have been threaded through a long running plotline allowing the show to constantly explore new ground, which for some has been very enjoyable. While the split timelines are a clever way of leaning heavy on theme, a consequence of structuring it in the manner has been messy transitions and minimal adventure development. Each character seems to be going on a different pace, a different time period further enhancing its disjointedness all the while remaining divorced from the larger plotlines – which for many has been a disappointment.

“A fantasy world with so much potential ruined by poor story telling. Season 1 feels like character introduction stories told mostly through side quests. The timelines are messy! Not everyone can pull off a Nolan. The last episode got me hooked though, because the main story was finally moving forward. Too bad it ended there. I am hoping for a better second season. 

The sword fights were amazing though.” – Haseeb Arshad

The GOT debate

It’s hard not to think of the obvious contemporary GOT when watching the “medievalish” sword and sorcery fantasy. Armies gathering to attack kingdoms, softcore nudity, Eastern European locations all evoke similar feelings of enchantment, however, the fantastical series is more focused on investigating magical creatures and bigger conspiracies, grounded in love and survival.

“The Witcher seems like an interesting series. I don’t understand what all the Game of Thrones comparisons are about though. I’ve seen both shows and the only thing they have in common is the genre” – Mehwish Ahmed

“It’s a good watch if you’re not comparing it with Game of Thrones or any other show. Just keep a clear head and you’ll love it. It gets confusing in the first part but all those confusions will clear up once you reach the second part of the season.” – Muhammad Saad Khan

Witcher Noobs

There is a large group of people who aren’t familiar with the Witcher, the games or the books – for those, fear not, the show is exactly what you would think it would be – in a strange campy sort of way.

“As a new-comer to the world of Witcher and fantasy myself, the show has been quite enjoyable. The timelines didn’t confuse me, in fact kept my curiosity at peak. I had no prior expectations and that perhaps could have been the reason why I saw no issues with the storytelling. Even if the show doesn’t provide enough back story for certain characters, the massive empire of The Witcher ensures that I have plenty of resources to learn more from if need be”

“I don’t believe it was the worst, but It was convoluted. However, it did do a good job setting up season 2 and even got me interested in the games. I’m playing the first Witcher game at the moment.” – Hassan Ejaz

“I didn’t know who or what the Witcher was up until I saw it. I wasn’t blown away but I definitely enjoyed it and look forward to season 2. If anything I think before lunging heedlessly into any of these cult wars, it’s best to give the series a chance to be what it’s trying to be – an adaption and an opportunity to perhaps learn a thing or two about the pre-existing franchise” – Adeel Reza

All in all what the Witcher is or rather seems to be a vast epic tale compressed into a series that is trying to do justice to pre-existing narratives, both books and games alike. Perhaps the best way to enjoy the pseudo-fantasy realm is to let go of any pre-conceived notions and let it be what it truly is – not a wannabe Game of Thrones, not a video game, not a book-turned-series but an adaptation in all its dark, broody, splendor. Season one if anything is just the prologue for what seems to be a fascinating world worth exploring and we’ll be ready to toss a coin to the Witcher next season!

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