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The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf review – a rewarding side quest for fans

January 5, 2023

The post The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Review – A Rewarding Fan Side Quest appeared first on Ready Steady Cut.

This review of The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is spoiler-free.

I am often reminded that the witcher, originally a series of Polish fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, became popular among the general public, and I still wonder how it happened. The material is rich, of course, but it only became popular after a few English translations and following the success of its adaptation into video game form by Warsaw-based developer CD Projekt Red. The games resonated, to say the least. The third is widely considered – by me included – to be one of the best of all time. And the second, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, was given by then Polish President Donald Tusk to Barack Obama to commemorate his visit, in what must surely be a first in world politics. It says a lot about what this world means and for whom. It’s deeply rooted in regional folklore, but there’s something truly essential about its themes of intolerance and harsh working-class life. The most consistent thing about all of The Witchers – the name of the series for mutant monster hunters – is that they’re all broke.

I bring all this up because I find it amusing that Superman, of all people, ended up playing Geralt of Rivia, the show’s nominal hero, on Netflix, of all platforms. It doesn’t become more common when it comes to Polish fantasy. This season had its ups and downs, but it captured a lot of what’s specifically interesting about this universe; he begged for a spinoff that we finally have in The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolfan animated prequel detailing how Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir (played here as a young man by Theo James), became a Witcher in the first place.

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Vesemir wasn’t in the live-action series, but it features prominently in the books and games, which is the first sign that this is a direct-to-existing fan project. It also deals with the story of Kaer Morhen, the windswept mountain dungeon of the Witchers, and the near destruction of order at the hands of paranoid neighboring villages. Distrust and prejudice are rampant among the denizens of Sapkowski’s world, and wizards are especially despised, so it only seems fitting that their history be steeped in bloodshed and avoidable tragedy. Vesemir, here depicted as a sword for hire during Witchers’ peak, seems like as good a lens through which to view it all as any.

He is unrecognizably Vesemir, however. James gives him a cocky attitude, and screenwriter Beau DeMayo fills his mouth with jokes that don’t necessarily match the older, grumpier version of the character we’ve already met. But it was, admittedly, a much younger man, still fired up by love and adventure, who idealized the Witchers story and exploits. His understanding of his own place in the world is intertwined with the idea of ​​Deglan (Graham McTavish), the sensible hunter who rescued him from a life of servitude as a boy, and the idea of ​​the job of a witcher as a vital. and a misunderstood service that the world only enjoys. As his preconceptions are challenged throughout the 81-minute film, he begins to look more and more like the older version of the character, in his attitude if nothing else.

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However, a lot of time early on is spent not only giving context to Vesemir’s urge to join the Witchers, but also the deeply cruel means by which the Witchers are created. Some of these sequences play closer to horror than fantasy action that fills the final third, which is an action-packed climax full of death, plot twists, and lavish anime-inspired visuals. The flashbacks are The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf at its least thrilling but most effective, at least as a character study, but director Kwang Il Han and Studio MIR put in no effort when it comes to paying the whole buildup.

The fact that the payoff is there – both in terms of action and significance to the franchise’s broader canon – reiterates the idea that this movie is for those who are already familiar with the material, while also suggesting that ‘We’re introduced to people and events shown that will become important – or at least remembered – during the second season of the live show. But the smartest touch of The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is that it largely works on its own terms as a standalone story – it ends up being light-hearted but satisfying that serves as a reminder of why this deeply weird franchise became popular in the first place.

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The post The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Review – A Rewarding Fan Side Quest appeared first on Ready Steady Cut.