I was super late to catch the hype train otherwise known as The Witcher franchise; but once I binge-watched the Netflix series, I understood what a gem I’d been missing out on. While I still have yet to read all of the books, here are my two cents on the adaptation that everyone already has their opinions about.
The World Of The Witcher: Dark, Atmospheric & Seductive
One of the reasons why I had avoided watching The Witcher Netflix series was because of all the warnings. While I have no problems reading descriptions of graphic violence in books, watching blood and gore on screen is a completely different matter. I simply cannot endure watching torture in film or series, and I was expecting The Witcher series to be as shockingly violent as the infamous Game Of Thrones.
But…I was pleasantly surprised.
Despite not shying away from violence, The Witcher series allows its viewers plenty of time to prepare for gory details in its masterful cinematic style of story-telling. And as I was binge-watching both seasons, there was one thing that stood out to me: the violent scenes that we see in The Witcher, along with any threat of sexual violence towards women, are simply part of the plot rather than a plot device to jar the viewer into shock and horror.
As a survivor, I cannot help but feel disappointed and triggered whenever violence is used as a plot device or shock factor, so I appreciated the sensibility and sensitivity with which they portrayed the dark, gritty, violent world of The Witcher.
The plot itself was fast-paced and intriguing: I liked how all the characters portrayed in the show are varying shades of morally gray. There are several antagonists and yet no true villain, and even the supposedly “good guys” make decisions that make you doubt their intentions. I am particularly curious about the full extent of the magic system and all the supernatural races here, and the history that ties them all together–my hopes are that we’ll get to dive into that more in the upcoming Season 3.
The Phenomenal Soundtrack & Stunning Visual Effects
Having never read the books or played the games, I cannot comment on the portrayal of the Continent, the fictional setting in which The Witcher takes place. But as someone who watched the show without any preamble or expectations, I was absolutely mesmerized. The attention to detail was extraordinary, from costume design to the architecture, and paired with a phenomenal soundtrack that’s perfectly balanced with ballads and upbeat instrumentals, the overall experience of watching The Witcher was both engaging and immersive at the same time.
A Wonderfully, Talented Diverse Cast
To say that nearly every character in The Witcher was memorable would be an understatement. I am well aware of the controversy the diverse casting of The Witcher caused, but personally, I loved that there were people of color playing incredibly well-developed characters in the show. Among the side characters, Tris, Tissaia, and Istredd were some of my favorites, and the actors playing them did a remarkable job of making these characters stand out on their own.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the bard Jaskier, due to how annoying he was. But of course, that’s part of his character, being stupidly annoying, adoringly steadfast and loyal, and being a source of comic relief. So I suppose the actor playing him did a great job after all.
A Powerful Trio Of Heros & Antiheroes
The whole plot of The Witcher series revolves around three characters: Geralt the monster-slayer, Yennefer the mage, and Ciri the Child Surprise. And all three characters were beautifully developed, intriguing and endearing in their own ways.
Let’s start with the titular character, Geralt of Rivia. Henry Cavill did a fine, nuanced portrayal of him in the series–he was both grim and funny, aloof and compassionate at the same time. I loved how he tries to keep up appearances of not caring for anyone except for his own survival, but ultimately he is a man of honor, and he does go to extreme lengths to protect innocent people even if they don’t extend the same kindness towards him.
I particularly loved the portrayal of Yennefer, and judging by what I have read of her character in the books and the games, I can’t help but think they did a better job of handling her character growth in the series. She is unapologetically power-hungry, driven, and indomitable, and I loved how for much of the series, you can never be truly sure which side she is on.
As for Ciri, I loved Freya Allan’s acting, especially in Season 2. I love watching damsels in distress growing into strong, independent women with their own agency, and Ciri’s transition from a scared princess on the run to becoming a Witcher in training was super fun to watch.
What I Didn’t Like About The Witcher: The Romance
I am probably going to share an unpopular opinion here, but I couldn’t care less about the romance between Yennefer and Geralt in the series. Frankly, it felt too rushed, and it was quite difficult to see chemistry between the two because the show simply did not spend enough screen-time building their relationship. I understand there was quite a lot to pack into in a series spanning only 10 episodes, but even so, the romance felt forced and unconvincing.
All things considered though, I am glad I managed to catch the hype train (even if just barely) because overall, The Witcher is truly a fantastic show, and I absolutely cannot wait for Season 3.