'The Witcher' Season 1 Review: Netflix Fantasy Adventure Adaptation Finds Henry Cavill On The Hunt
Coming to streaming lands with a lot of noise and hype, Netflix’s The Witcher transforms from the video game world to small screen. There are many long walks between cities, fiery dragons and sword fights, almost like there’s now a sizable void for that. Season one is very much trying to accomplish a lot and there sure are things done well in the technical side but it doesn’t quite find its footing with singular storytelling.
The musical score by Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli leads us through the fantastical world of witchers, sorceresses, elfs and more. The music of the show combines classical instrumentation, obscure sounds and pop sensibility to one glorious soup of notes. Ranging from thunderous 'Geralt Of Rivia' to a melodic miracle of an original song in 'Toss A Coin To Your Witcher', it’s as good as television series scores come right now. Much of the excitement also comes from the action and fight scenes as they are interestingly choreographed and clearly shot for the most part. A highlight of this is one sequence from the end of episode three. Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia fortunately has plenty of charm and humour to lead the series, even if his character is a quiet one, while Freya Allan (as princess Ciri), Anya Chalotra (Yennefer, a sorceress), MyAnna Buring (Tissaia De Vries) carry their parts well enough whenever we cut to the kingdoms or sorcery.
Unfortunately the series stumbles with its storytelling as especially for someone like me who didn’t binge through it and instead kept to episode per day, it really doesn’t tell anything cohesively. Opposite to the score, it plays out more like a bunch of single releases rather than an 8-track album with a through line. Most noticeable example is between episodes one and two where it looks, sounds and feels like two different shows. On top of that the multiple timelines are executed very messily since the transitions aren’t smooth or clear. This might also lead to plenty of supporting actors not really knowing their character’s places in the story, Lars Mikkelsen (Stregobor) and Royce Pierreson (Istredd) being the most obviously underwhelming. All in all the first eight episodes feel a lot more like a lead-up to midseason finale and not a complete season of plot lines coming together in the end.
Smileys: Score, Henry Cavill
Frowneys: Structure, pacing, Lars Mikkelsen
The Witcher has enough magic to be thrilling but it still needs some polishing.