Henry Cavill stars as The Witcher
From the words of Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher was born. While titled differently in the various short stories and novels, the roleplaying game from CD Projekt arguably put the story of Geralt of Rivia on the map—making it more digestible and interactive for audiences around the world.
After all, how else do you package a fantasy if not in a game that has players maneuvering maps, weaving swords, casting spells and choosing their own (virtual) destiny?
Disclaimer: The below review is a look at episode one, “The End's Beginning,” and not the full first season of The Witcher.
The Witcher revolves around Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter (AKA witcher) who developed supernatural abilities at a young age. His journey—his destiny, as they like to call it—links with the likes of Princess Cirilla and sorceress Yennefer. The three form their own version of family, protecting each other against all odds stacked up against them.
What follows is a long tale of mystery, secrets, surprising turns, heart-wrenching narratives and exciting battles. There’s war and there’s love, there’s influence and vulnerability. There are strong men that have the capacity to lead—and there are powerful women who do much more.
But the question is whether or not Netflix’s version of The Witcher is worth your time.
Geralt, with his signature white hair half-tied at the back of his head, makes his appearance shortly after the audience watches a demure deer walk through a dead forest. And then he comes, battling it out with a monster that looks like an arachnomorph, killing it with a sword through its throat and up its head. And in quick succession, the story follows: he meets Renfri, then Stregobor, then we’re introduced to the royal family of Cintra. Queen Calanthe and King Eist Tuirseach go to battle against the Nilfgaardian army and the episode ends with open doors you want to just run though—even I, with my limited knowledge and zero experience with the franchise, wanted to hit the non-existent “next episode” button.
But I guess that’s the point; The Witcher gets you hooked with all the magic, mysterious characters and the overwhelming rush of the first episode. You know so little walking in and the truth is that you still know very little when it finishes, but you ~need~ to know more. You cannot help but be curious, cannot help but want answers to all the questions.
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Cavill as Geralt of Rivia is believable, which was my earliest and strongest concern. How can you erase the image of Superman? Apparently, all it takes is some scruff, longer hair and a brilliant actor. The other cast members are wonderful, too; there is not one moment that feels out of place or forced—and yet no one outshines the other.
The production? Mesmerizing. The world that Netflix created is holistic and of its own. I can’t speak for fans of the game or the novels and short stories, but I took it as it is and I walked out of that premiere theater satisfied and wanting more.
The first episode of The Witcher moves quick, leaving just enough bread crumbs to keep your attention and keep you within the loop. And while I've only seen the pilot episode, let’s just say that it was definitely worth the one hour I waited outside the cinema to watch it—and the other seven hours following Henry Cavill around on his press tour in Manila.
But let me leave the words of praise behind and leave you with this: At the meet-and-greet, one fan said that The Witcher is going to fill the void that Game Of Thrones left. It’s a tall order, but he might just be right.
The Witcher is already available for streaming on Netflix.
Art Alexandra Lara