The Witcher

At its best, The Witcher suggests an adult Lord of the Rings; at its worst, Xena: Warrior Princess

Film Review by Joseph Walsh | 20 Dec 2019
  • The Witcher
Film title: The Witcher
Director: Creator: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich
Starring: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra, Jodhi May, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Adam Levy, MyAnna Buring, Mimi Ndiweni
Release date: 20 Dec

Full of sex, gore, and nudity, Netflix clearly has its sights set on The Witcher becoming the successor to Game of Thrones. Set in a magical medieval world, it’s pure action-packed high fantasy. We follow a white-haired warrior (mutant monster hunter Henry Cavil) who wanders the land slaying beasties for a price, eventually crossing paths with a witch called Yennefer (Chalotra) and a young princess called Ciri (Allan).

At its best, The Witcher suggests an adult Lord of the Rings; at its worst, Xena: Warrior Princess. Unlike GOT, politics aren’t the show's narrative driving force. Instead, it's interested in questions of what makes a monster – the answer usually being a very human crime.

Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich is clearly aware of the huge fanbased for The Witcher novels (and subsequent video games). Unfortunately, the result is a show too eager to please those who are already au fait with the material. The series' greatest strength is its broader, non-linear narrative arc, particularly when it focuses on Yennefer, whose story is the backbone of the series. However, like much of the fantasy genre, you can’t help feel this is skewed towards a certain demographic of men, especially given the gratuitous levels of female nudity.

The Witcher is an enjoyable romp, with spectacular effects and impressive battle sequences, but as it stands it doesn’t have the same grip as its recent predecessors.

Streaming on Netflix from 20 Dec