Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Witcher (season 1)

By s. Tuesday, January 7, 2020 ,
(slight spoilers for the entire season)

Fuck.

That's the word that is uttered in hilarious ways at multiple points of the series by Geralt of Rivia, its protagonist. But that's also the word that should be on the minds of the audience - Netflix's new show, which is already breaking records, is a baffling mess that has huge potential but the first season of it is an embarrassing fiasco, filled with awful visuals and even worse storytelling. Yet in the world where trash like Joker made a billion dollars, it's not in the least surprising something that is so poorly made became a hit.

Everything in this show is so pristine. Frankly, it looks cleaner than my apartment. Nothing in that show looks lived in and it is just so distracting when you are watching it. It instantly makes you aware you are watching actors playing parts in a TV series and completely ruins whatever immersion would be possible otherwise. Some of the visuals from the show, like the ones during the ball in mage academy, make CW series look like masterpieces.

You would think that Netflix, which is responsible for one of the best and most expensive shows of 2019 - third season of Stranger Things - made sure that the special effects in their new series are really good. Nope. With the exception of striga in the third episode, the CGI is truly embarrassing. The further you venture into the season it gets worse and it culminates in the shittiest looking dragon ever, at least since we attempted to adapt the source material here in Poland. Nearly two decades ago. On a minuscule budget. And the result was in the same "what the fuck?!" territory as it is now. Spare me "oh they had small budget" excuse. If you can't afford something, don't do it.
Then there is the world building issue. There is barely any. There is practically no backstory for anything here so you have no idea why there is war or even how many kingdoms there are, who rules them, etc. We don't know anything about that other than that there is a CONTINENT and some lands on it. Remember when Bran was taught about the kingdoms on Game of Thrones? Within an episode into the show you knew everything that was vital to know. Here you are constantly lost.

Another thing that the show skips entirely is telling us about what are the powers of the characters. Things just happen and you understand neither why they are happening nor how them happening is even possible. Yennefer is fucking a guy while some people are watching, turns out it was an illusion conjured by her. Why? Who knows. A couple during a wedding start levitating. But why? And why was the groom cursed? I sure as shit don't know. Why does Yen sometimes use magic and sometimes a sword? No explanation for that either.

What makes things worse to comprehend is that this is told like Dunkirk with 3 main stories, each starting in a different point in time. And that is not even revealed in a way that could be a cool twist, it's just kind of "wait a minute..." moment when you realize there's non-linear storytelling happening here. It is exciting when all the stories finally collide, but that only happens in the last episode. But then the finale ends with in the dumbest line possible so there's that...
Surely at least the characters are interesting? Eh. There are two here, that are very fun -  Renfri, who is sadly in one episode only, some hallucinations in finale aside, and Jaskier, a cheerful bard, who is sure to be everyone's favorite character. He is so much fun and his interactions with serious and humorless Geralt are hilarious. Jodhi May is also a lot of fun as the Queen. Unfortunately, two of those characters die in season 1.

There is a series of diversity hires in this show which is all right but they went and cast Anya Chalotra, who is really not very good, to play the most important female character. She is given such juicy material and she delivers very mediocre work. Eva Green would deliver better Yennefer in her sleep and her career is flat-lining so she would do this, but hey, she's white, so I guess it was a no-go. Look, representation and diversity on screen are great. But when you favor that over who is the best person for the job, that's a problem. And you cannot tell me this chick was the best out of the possible choices.

The show tries to hide how terribly cast she is by having her constantly show her breasts as a distraction and not even Game of Thrones resorted to that, just to hide the actress' complete lack of allure. The true low point though is when Yennefer, again for no reason, conjures an orgy, in I guess an effort to show Yennefer is sensual, since the actress cannot convey that with her limited abilities. What's worse is that she's not even the most interesting or charismatic character in the mage academy, that would be the teacher played by lovely MyAnna Buring. Yen is really annoying and selfish and the only way to make a character like that entertaining is to have an actor with charisma play her. Chalotra has very little of that. Instead of being this powerful sorceress, watching this Yennefer is basically like cringing at an instagram model throwing "fuck you" and "I'm better than you" hashtags around.
Freya Allen as Ciri does not fare any better but that is because she is given truly awful material to work with. This one can improve in the future. Chalotra won't, she was given plenty of opportunities here and I cannot say she impressed me in any of her scenes. I also found the chemistry between the actress playing Renfri and Cavill stronger than the absolute flat-lining that occurs on the screen when him and Chalotra are supposed to be flirting. There's a moment where they kiss mid-fight that is almost as embarrassing as that dragon was.

To give you the idea of the quality of the series I probably should have opened this post with the statement that Cavill is actually one of the best things about it. Yes, this mediocre actor who got this lifeline for his career from Netflix after WB was done with him is actually the bright spark here so this should tell you how bad everything surrounding him is. The fight choreography is all right, it's nothing spectacular.

What about the villains? Well, what about them. They are invading other kingdoms and practice dark magic and keep chasing Ciri. That's it. That's all I know.

Does this show have a potential? Yes. There's so many creatures in Slavic mythology that would be amazing visually, even if the CGI sucked, because they would be unique. What is needed here is bigger budget, more imagination and decent writers. The horrible casting calls will perpetually drag this show down but there is still room for improvement. But the way it is now, the most entertaining thing about The Witcher is just how bad most of it is.

32/100

25 comments:

  1. You know... I liked this show. Like, I wasn't mad at it and I think I would rate it higher. BUT.. I agree with everything you said as well. It is weak, there's no world around the characters, half the time I don't understand the shit happening. The academy is literally like.. say this, they say it and almost everyone succeed, like wow, just give them a book and send them on their way if it seems so easy. Anyway.. that wasn't the point I came here to make.
    You know, before Supernatural got super fcking long and Padalecki basically ruined his reputation, that show had amazing creatures! Like folklore horror batshit crazy stuff that was fcking scary. And it was so interesting! You learned shit about them. Here is like, it's that thing, you kill it like this, okay bye. Like the only one that was interesting and explained and fully fascinating was the one in ep3 I think... the (and if this is insensitive I apologise but this is how my brain remember this) abortion-demon.


    Cavill's "Fucks" were good tho..

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    1. Yes, the striga! That was the only well done monster arc

      I would love to rewatch Supernatural one day but the length of that thing is so intimidating

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    2. If you do want to rewatch Supernatural, I mean, I'd stop at season 5. That was how Kripke meant it and he left after that so the rest was just filler. The show has a very nice wrap up in that season and I would gladly watch it again up until that point. I wouldn't imagine watching it another 10 seasons on top of that...

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    3. I cant believe how many seasons this thing has. I would actually love to watch it all no matter how shitty it gets ๐Ÿ˜‚

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    4. It's proper long seasons too, 20 episodes a season and each 40 minutes long?! Like... wait... (googles shit).. it would take 13 days and 3 hours to watch the show without any breaks. (doable :D) and while looking this up, I found a scary fact:
      “How long is the entirety of Supernatural for Sam and Dean?”

      The answer (as of the end of season 14) is 55 years for Dean, and 181 years for Sam. (There is even an alternate answer for Sam, too. Of over 6,000 years.)

      LOL

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    5. I bet it feels just as long for the character in Grey's Anatomy :P

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    6. Oh yeah..that thing is still going as well... bonkers. :D

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  2. I agree with most of your points here even though I enjoyed the show much more than you did. I'm with you about Cavill especially – I've long said that man was not blessed with talent but also who needs talent when he can take off his cloths?! But he was good Geralt – maybe because Geralt is a character who does not express many emotions.

    I do think, however, that choreography of fight scenes was marvelous. Or I might have been distracted by Cavill's ass.

    I have to say that I did not understand the Witcher world even by reading the first book.

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    1. Eh, it wasnt as well choreographed as some of the stuff out there, in the world where John Wick movies exist it's Impossible to Impress with that

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    2. I'm surprised (and little disappointed) you did not include a shirtless photo of Cavill in this post ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‚

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    3. I don't find him attractive. Not since I found out he is into teenagers

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  3. I don't even want to start but I'll probably give in and do so eventually. Fuck. lol

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    1. It's hilariously awful at times so it's not a waste of time lol

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  4. Bummer about Yennifer. I mean I'd cast Eva Green in anything so totally agree with you there!

    Agree about Renfri to. I like the actress and her story was interesting and rather moving. They should have kept her around. :(

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    1. They really should or cast the actress as Yen, now we are stuck with that one :/

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  5. I'm only on ep 3 (which was good), but it's been up and down for me too. The first ep was just so bad. The fanboys/fangirls of this show have lost their minds over this show. As you said, no one can dare give any rational critique of this show without getting ripped for it.

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    1. It's pleb with nothing better to do than argue online, just like Joker stans

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  6. what a great read after my 'holiday break'! right there with you, the potential is endless. the show really made me get the books or the game now, because the show itself was really just OK. also mega sad that renfri isn't a main character, she rocked hard! seems like it didn't have much competition in december that it did so well (also the most watched show in austria 2019, can you believe that?). on that note: did you watch 'you'? almost through season 2, it's strong so far for a sequel imo!

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    1. The Mandalorian should be getting the most popular title but Disney was so extraordinarily stupid with not making their platform available everywhere at the same time so Netflix easily won even though their show is trash

      I started watching You this week ! I only saw 5 eps because I am super busy lately but the show is a lot of fun

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    2. it's getting kind of hectic with all the streaming services! glad you enjoy you!

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    3. It's a lot of fun though I really dont like Beck

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  7. I'm halfway through so far and I'm conflicted. I'm enjoying it but mainly because I'm a huge fan of the games and I like spotting the nods and references and whatnot. But at the same time...it's got to be confusing as fuck to someone new to it all and it's painfully clear the entire budget was blown on Cavill!
    I would rather die than have Toss a Coin to Your Witcher taken away from me though, ha!

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    1. That song is awesome indeed! I wish I had the time to play the games they look so wonderful

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  8. The Witcher's one of the few games I do play, and I admit that I did enjoy this adaptation. Jaskier and Cirilla are both well cast! I was so miffed when the former had to take his leave. But I do agree with you on how underwritten the story is, especially for someone who's new to the whole mythology, fictional laws and whatnot. It had so much potential to be a lot better.

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    1. I hope Jaskier comes back in next season! He's the best thing about the show

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