the witcher

Stars: 5/5

Netflix’s "The Witcher" series is for the (adult) fans of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that want those beasts to gouge eyes and chomp faces like their original mythical namesakes intended.

"The Witcher" series is based on a fantastic video game series based on a book series based on Slavic and German folklore, composing an intriguing, in-depth universe never before seen on the big screen. 

Instead of attempting to preserve and nurture the unusual creatures of his land like one lovable Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts, the main character, Geralt of Rivia, hails from a guild and breed called Witchers, males genetically modified and trained from youth to systematically slay beasts for the right amount of coin.

Despite his unique and highly-demanded services, common folk all but spit on him in passing, refuse directions and nearly brawl to their own demise in the first five minutes of season one episode one. 

Henry Cavill, or Superman, traded his cape and ego for a horse named Roach and two swords, one silver to dispatch monsters, the other steel for the disgruntled villagers of Blaviken, among other humans and animals. By the end of episode one, he earns his most regrettable title in an epic slinging of swords: The Butcher of Blaviken.

He is a complex and beautifully-developed character that, despite the difficult moral circumstances in which he often finds himself, contradicts the popular narrative of witchers as indifferent, inhumane mercenaries in a world where they are needed and despised.

If the badass lone ranger trope doesn’t tickle your fancy like it does mine, there are two other pivotal characters the series follows, shedding light on world events irrelevant to its fantastical setting.

As the land-hungry and militarily inclined Nilfgaardian Empire wreaks havoc on its way north, a young Princess Cirilla flees her home and seeks Geralt of Rivia per the queen’s dying wish. The extent of her importance is criminally understated in the show compared to the video games, but viewers get a taste when her desperate scream knocks back and impales several attackers.

The unifying theme for our main characters is ridiculous power, and the hunchbacked witch-in-training Yennefer is no exception. Everyone has bad days, but in Yennefer’s first scene, a young couple bullies her without provocation, she accidentally teleports herself somewhere with scary decor and upon return her father sells her into servitude for four marks, his cows fetching 10 marks. 

Season one gave a cursory look into the full scope of "The Witcher’s" universe in terms of rich fantastical lore, political intrigue, believable rules for the magic system and realistic character interactions. The gears of the world would continue to turn if the protagonists were to drop dead, though it would be far less interesting.

Video game movies/shows have a poor track record with big titles like Assassin’s Creed and Halo falling face first."The Witcher" is the success story gamers have long awaited. In fact, following the release of the show, there were more people playing the most recent Witcher game than on its launch day, breathing new life into the series as a whole.

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