Movies & TV

REVIEW: The Witcher is the Epic High Fantasy Series We’re Finally Ready For

It's the fantasy series we've been waiting for: a return to the land of magic, monsters, and destiny galore.
IMAGE NETFLIX
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Before the series was even released, critics were already comparing The Witcher to Game of Thrones, describing it as Netflix’s bid to hold the next big fantasy series. Let’s just start off by saying the two can’t be compared. While GOT was the first to prove that fantasy works best as a series, The Witcher exists on an entirely different league. It’s not here to be GOT, it’s not here to replace GOT—it’s here to fill up a space in film and television that’s long been waiting for a saga that returns to the core of high fantasy—magic, monsters, and destiny galore. While GOT may have opened the door for shows like The Witcher, the soul of this series sings the same song as the likes of The Lord of the Rings and The Dark Crystal—dark, epic, and fantastical on every level.

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Behold The Witcher, the epic high fantasy series audiences are finally ready for.

Queen Calanthe and Geralt of Rivia

Photo by NETFLIX.
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Yennefer of Vengeburg

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Based on the popular literary saga of the same name by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher starts by showing off what many have been excited to see: Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in all his witcher glory, fighting off a horrid monster that’s docile compared to the other monsters in the show. If you haven’t guessed, the series revolves around the adventures of Geralt, the witcher the title is referring to. An inhuman mutant monster hunter ostracized by society, Cavill, who’s used to playing the hero, does a good job at capturing Geralt’s stoic, growly persona. But in the show, like in most things, it’s the women who shine.

Geralt is only one-third of the driving force of the series. The other two come in the forms of the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg (played by Anya Chalotra), an unapologetic risk-taker, and the princess Ciri of Cintra, whose world is ripped apart after she survives a massacre. Portrayed by talented actresses who manage to display both strength and vulnerability, the stories of these women are intricately intertwined with the overarching narrative as the trio unravels the ties that bind them together. As much as it’s about magic and monsters, the series is also very much about family—free of incest, coups, and betrayal, thankfully.

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A driud and Princess Ciri

Photo by NETFLIX.

Aretuza, Thanedd Island

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With a strong cast in place, including supporting characters who steal the spotlight more than once (shout out to Jodhi May as Queen Calanthe of Cintra and MyAnna Buring as Tissaia de Vries), the show wouldn’t be the high fantasy series of every nerd’s dream if it wasn’t for its brilliant plot structure and intelligent storytelling, courtesy of its showrunner, Lauren Schmidt-Hissrich and her team of writers. The plot is a riddle in itself, one that we’ll let the viewers figure out on their own. The monster-per-episode scheme is a smart way to slowly introduce the audience to Sapkowski’s witcher world, through its many kingdoms and vast array of monsters and mythology. The love of the lore is not lost on the show as it takes great care in putting the pieces of the plot’s riddle together.

While there are blood and boobs aplenty, don’t mistake this for just another R-rated fantasy. The beauty of the series is its savage take on survival and evil. There’s no denying the abundance of doom and gloom in each episode, courtesy of Geralt’s growly nature, but there are moments of lighthearted humor injected by Jesker, the show’s unofficial joker, and even Geralt’s rare wise-cracking moments. With sets, costumes, and special effects worthy of the big screen, Netflix’s fantasy saga is off to a good start. It’s certainly not perfect, with a few awkward lines and over-the-top deliveries, but it’s still well worth the watch.

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The Witcher is a compelling adapted series that would make Sapkowski and his fans proud. The legacy of The Witcher is in good hands.

The Witcher is now streaming on Netflix.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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