Netflix The Witcher Review
I have never played any of The Witcher games nor read the novels the game is based on. So I watched the Netflix series fresh not expecting anything, and with no spoilers.
I have to admit that it took me a few days to watch the series. I kept seeing the promos in the front page of Netflix, but kept procrastinating, and watched something else: The Expanse, Lost in Space Season 2, and a few other goodies.
During the weekend, I decided to watch The Witcher. I had a mix of feelings about the series starting with surprised, then confused.
It was until Episode 4 when I figured out what was going on, and where the confusion was solved. When it didn’t make sense in a row of events, I came to the conclusion that the Witcher was developed as a series of intermitent flashbacks and present happenings.
After I convinced myself that’s the reasoning, everything started to make sense.
So for those of you who haven’t watched The Witcher, I recommend to keep track of the character names, and the city/village names. This will help you make sense of what is a flashback and what is present.
I have to heavily criticize the production for not making flashbacks clear to the audience. It doesn’t hurt The Witcher or any production to write: “12 years ago,” or “12XX” (whatever year it is set in). Then say onscreen: “Present” or “2 weeks ago.”
Or write onscreen the location the scene is taking place in. It would help the viewers immensely. Otherwise, those who can’t identify this flashback mechanic or who was who at a young age, I can now see why from the “Critics” point-of-view The Witcher was given a 59% Rotten Totatoes.
That’s basically all my complaints about The Witcher, because this series completely hooked me up, and I can’t wait for Season 2 to be released.
Season 1 is basically a primer-dash-cliffhanger for Season 2.
There aren’t mary sues in this story. We know the basic rules that govern The Witcher universe in the early episodes. The Witcher is some kind of mutant that has undergone a specific magical ritual at a young age. Only three out of 10 kids survive the ritual. So there aren’t many witchers, and most have been exterminated. This transforming ritual strips them of basic emotions. A witcher hunts for monsters, protects the innocent, and takes personal gigs if you have a handsome bounty. Still his unique moral compass prevents him from taking certain type of gigs.
Witchers are very agile in sword combat, and have a few magical-based spells that look onscreen like telekinetic blasts that push away opponents — but he uses them very scarcely. Another treat is that they need to drink potions. They are alchemists and search for ingredients to concoct their potions. The few times I saw the Witcher drink any of these was when injured or as a buff boost in the middle of combat.
The Witcher is not all-powerful. He is not infallible, and he is not invulnerable.
In fact, he is wounded a few times throughout the series, and at the mercy of enemies some times, and of friendly citizens: both known to him, and some who know who he is.
It is also rare to see damsels in distress in this story. Almost all women, if not all, pull their own weight and kick ass.
The sword combat coreography is beyond anything I have seen in over 40 years of watching films, including post 2000s.
Henry Cavill is incredibly skilled in sword combat, with swift speed and agility; and definitely there was a peculiarity about his coreography that can only be seen in video games.
The reason I ended up watching The Witcher is that — although I haven’t played any of its games before watching the series, I had heard about it online or in TOP games listings on and off in the past 10 years. Plus, mainly, because as a Blizzard news writer I search news nigh daily and I recall reading that one out of three The Witcher 3 writers had joined Blizzard Entertainment.
At BlizzCon 2019, this past November, we finally learned what Sebastian Stepien has been working on for nearly a year at Blizzard Entertainment. He is the creative director of Diablo IV — feel free to read the BlizzCon 2019 Diablo IV: World and Lore panel transcript where he was a panelist.
So, of course I had to watch Netflix The Witcher. Because to a degree, this is the type of story that fits the Netflix Diablo project — whatever it is.
I was the guy who asked Andrew Cosby in Twitter if he had any comments toward the Netflix Diablo rumors circulating the internet.
So while there has been no official news or updates in the past year about a Netflix Diablo, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t in early stages back then at the story draft stage. Was it cancelled or postponed? No one knows.
But if it ever airs in the Netflix platform, The Witcher is possibly the first of its genre to make an impact. Of course Critics didn’t like it. They didn’t understand it. But on the audience side, that massive 93% audience score approval (with User Ratings: 14251) says a whole different story. It was largely well-received by The Witcher gamers, novel readers, and fresh newcomers like me who never played the games or read the novels.
So in light of its success, that is a positive signal for Blizzard Entertainment to move forward with Netflix Diablo.
It might be interesting to take guesses on which period the Netflix Diablo would start in, however. Would it start in the events of Diablo 1? Or would it start with the Uldyssian story back in the Sin War? Better yet… would it be based on Diablo 1, with flashbacks of the Sin War? Who knows. There is certainly a lot of Diablo novels, in-game story, manual story, and the recent Diablo: Book of Cain, Book of Tyrael, and Book of Adria to take inspiration from.
There is just one thing you must know about The Witcher before you load it and watch it. I haven’t spoiled much up to this point, but for parents… I sincerely need to tell you that it contains a lot of nudity. It is up to each parent how to deal with this tidbit.
If that doesn’t bother you, then feel free to watch and enjoy The Witcher. If you are a Diablo fan, this series definitely opens the door wide open for Netflix Diablo as a Mature rating binge masterpiece.
The Witcher, while very good, had a lot of comedy and humor — which I think lowered the Mature rating factor a few notches; but the overarching storyline, the intense battlefield scenes, and the suspense across its 8 episodes make up for it.
On the other hand, the fact that there are so many flashbacks at different periods of time without visual identifiers (text onscreen) makes it kind of a complex jigsaw puzzle that you need to put together in your brain to make sense of what happened in 8-episodes.
That gives it a spice of intrigue and suspense — which I guess is welcomed by sci-fi/fantasy viewers. Especially, if you enjoyed the mind-twisting rollercoaster that was Terry Matalas’ 12 Monkeys (SYFY series).
Watch The Witcher and share with me what your thoughts about it are, and what do you expect from a Netflix Diablo if that ever goes live.
And… if you still don’t believe a Netflix Diablo is still in Blizzard’s radar… check out Blizzard’s recent joke in the Netflix twitter a few weeks after BlizzCon. Or was it a joke? Maybe a tease?