Netflix to produce TV series of The Witcher

ctg

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I thought I don't need to write about this because it will sell itself. So I binged it. The whole thing and I have to say I'm slightly disappointed on the producers. The thing is, throughout the series they'll use copious amount of flashback and flashforward features. The Nilfgaard Attack on Ciri is a good example, as the event keeps repeating up until the very last episode.

I feel they wanted to explain things, and how things are, but they did a poor job on putting it all together. It might be because most of the production crew are polish that they didn't had a skills to produce a piece for the modern day, as some others could have done things very differently. It is also sad that there are only 8 episodes to explain the beginning.

If Netflix gives them more money something has to change in the direction, as this could be so much better and Witchers world could do with full 13 episodes instead of 8.
 

The Crawling Chaos

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When my mind is given this kind of material, my imagination insists on a really shabby, dirty, hairy, rough-tough character. He is an outdoor living warrior.

And you're right. In the books, Geralt is described as average-looking and even ugly a couple of times. Although he does have washboard abs (I believe the exact words are 'the flat stomach of a teenager')!

About that particular light and the quality of shiny cosplay feel is that I think it is on purpose. I think they didn't want to give a realistic, darker, historical feel, but a game and fairy tale come true feel.

I would love it if the show had a fairy tale look, I really don't think it's the case though. I just see bad lighting and framing, with very wide angle lenses that reveal all the shoddy detail of the set dressing and production design.

About the eye make up, I don't think the problem is that it is just badly done. They are good. This is a general proıblem in movie industry with traditional make up or cgi.

I thought about it for a minute because I agree that Yen's purple eyes look much better than Ciri's and Geralt's lenses, so initially I thought you made a good point. But then I thought back about the Star Wars prequels that came out between 1999 and 2005, and how the 'Sith eyes' in those were made using bright red and yellow lenses. I never had a problem with them, in fact they look good to me. My problem with the lenses in the Witcher has nothing to do with colour and everything to do with the fact that the two actors have that dead-fish look about them when they're filmed in close up. I wonder if it's because they found it difficult to get used to them and rarely ever blink, or if the lenses moved about a little and gave the illusion that the characters were cross-eyed . In the scene between Geralt/Dandelion and the elves of the second episode, Cavill made me think of a chameleon simultaneously tracking flies on both sides of his face.

ctg said:
The Nilfgaard Attack on Ciri is a good example, as the event keeps repeating up until the very last episode.

That's a shame, although as far as this particular example is concerned, that was all in the books too. I remember being slightly annoyed at the number of times the author had Ciri resminiscing about the black Nilfgaardian knight. I guess his objective was to insist on how much of a trauma and character-defining moment it was for her. Like a bad nightmare that keeps haunting you.
 

ctg

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I would love it if the show had a fairy tale look,

It has. The problem is with the creatures as we are never going to see Nekker hordes or Drowners or even Ekimera's if they don't devote money into it. I'm certain the CD Project Red can lend them 3D models and even help them to upgrade them to the 4k range, but up North they are never going to get the level of detail you saw in the last game. Especially in regards of the Elven ruins.

The locations are wonderfully chosen and they'll give a true feeling to the Witcher world. I was scared that they are not going to show Elves or Dwarves or other humanoids, but they are all in, including some of the spirits. They could use GoT like budget to take it further, but I doubt Netflix will shell that sort of amounts even if there is a potential to take this to a GoT level. The whole budget for the Witcher 1 is around 80 million dollars, while an episode of GoT cost around 150 million.

If Netflix would up the budget to 150 million and ordered 13 episodes to show Ciri's first steps in Kaer Morhan, plus the past of boys who were chosen for the ritual, they could do wonderfully. And they could slow down the pacing to give the audience a full fantasy experience in a brutal Witcher world.

I think we'll have to find out what the Netflix orders first. The potential is there.
 

The Crawling Chaos

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My comment was about the cinematography (lighting, camera work and colour correction). It is not lit nor shot like a fairy tale at all. There's nothing whimsical or magical about it. Technically, it's a low point.
 
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Boneman

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I haven't read the books or played the games so I struggled with the story. I found some of the dialogue difficult to hear or even understand. However the fight scene between Geralt and Renfri at the end won me over. I am intrigued.

I watched two episodes, and am intrigued to watch more. However, tonight, I'm watching those two episodes again with subtitles switched on!! Talk about mumbling.... Hadn't thought about doing it until my son (whose hearing is ten times better than mine) said that he had to do that to understand what was being said.
 

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I have no experience of The Witcher and decided to watch the first episode and I must say it's rather bland. There are some definite technical problems with it but I just don't care about any of the characters or their problems. I may try the second episode but I'm in no rush.

A lot of this, I'm coming to believe, is the fact that there are no advert breaks. Netflix lets things run on and on with no thought of running time. Most of Netflix offerings are guilty of this. They need a stable of top-notch editors to cut away the fat and help the stories get to the point. That wouldn't matter at all if the characters were more interesting, especially to the uninitiated.
 
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ctg

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especially to the uninitiated.

I recommend watching the whole story and take it in as it is. You will learn about King Folstat and Emperor Emyr alongside Geralts and Ciri's story. Most you'll see is about Gerald, in a classical short story fashion, instead of all of it tied together in a neat package. You'll have to finish the series to really understand the beginning, and to get a grasp of its epic sized tale.
 

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I recommend watching the whole story and take it in as it is. You will learn about King Folstat and Emperor Emyr alongside Geralts and Ciri's story. Most you'll see is about Gerald, in a classical short story fashion, instead of all of it tied together in a neat package. You'll have to finish the series to really understand the beginning, and to get a grasp of its epic sized tale.
That makes sense, but as with so many Netflix productions, this one is poorly miced and you miss some things being said. Especially that Queen. If you spend half the time trying to figure out what was just said you miss other points. Hence, I don't care about any of them. And suicide over fighting to the bitter end makes my inner Cimmerian seeth with rage and disgust.
 

The Crawling Chaos

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Rarely have I seen a show come so close to greatness only to be let down by frustratingly tiny but oh so distracting details.

I just finished episode 3 and I must reiterate that the writing is, on the whole, a masterful adaptation. The way they chose to weave together all the characters' backstories as well as past and present works on every level. I agree that someone not familiar with the world of The Witcher can only feel a bit lost - even I had to look up a few names to remember who or where X was - but I trust that it will all come together by the end of the season.

This episode finally had some great cinematography (in Tissaia's office and the crypt) but that fight choreography and stunts during the Striga fight were laughable. And Geralt's wig in the following scene... And don't start me on the ball scene that looked just as cosplay-y as a Twilight film as far as the set and costume designs were concerned (again, something should have been done when the scene was lit to conceal its cheap visuals).

Yennefer continues to be the best thing about this series so far. "That" scene was haunting and chilling (Yennefer of... Cronenberg?).

Netflix... I don't care who you have to kill to get the money (or maybe just, you know, stop financing Michael Bay movies and save the cash) but season 2 needs double the budget. Make it happen.
 
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Dave

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I recommend watching the whole story and take it in as it is. You will learn about King Folstat and Emperor Emyr alongside Geralts and Ciri's story.
Only watched the first episode and I'm glad you say that, because I want to know more about the vast array of characters that all got killed off. I know people online have compared it to Game of Thrones, but even in that series they left a few of the characters alive. This had a spaghetti western scale of killing in it.

I also agree about the mumbling. The fight scenes are very loud and I had to turn it down or wake those sleeping in my house, then I found that I couldn't hear any dialogue.

Apart from that, it's good. I'll be watching the rest. (I haven't read the books or played the games.)
 

ctg

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Only watched the first episode and I'm glad you say that, because I want to know more about the vast array of characters that all got killed off.
A couple of important characters were killed off. Most important are Ciri's parents and the sacking of Cintra. It leads to fall of North and Emperyr Emryr taking much of the land to Nilfgaard. You won't see him in the series at this time, but you get to know Folstat from the beginning. You also learn that Nilfgaard has been twisted by the Order of White Flame, which are nuts if you ask me.
 

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I watched two episodes, and am intrigued to watch more. However, tonight, I'm watching those two episodes again with subtitles switched on!! Talk about mumbling.... Hadn't thought about doing it until my son (whose hearing is ten times better than mine) said that he had to do that to understand what was being said.

I put the subtitles on and it is much better. However they do need to look at their production values for the next season.

On episode 3 and I thought it was clever how they mixed the timelines. It is starting to fall into place and I am gaining a better picture of this world. I like Cavill as Geralt, although I have nothing to base his performance on having not read the source material.
 

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The thing is, throughout the series they'll use copious amount of flashback and flashforward features.
On episode 3 and I thought it was clever how they mixed the timelines.
You were lucky, it wasn't until episode 4 that I realised what they were doing with timelines. I really enjoyed it overall, but the jumping back and forth between timelines was my biggest problem, and is a personal gripe of mine in all TV dramas. If they must do it, then give the older version a new scar, or a different outfit. At least grey their hair more (admittedly difficult with Geralt) or have them age. 10 years passing is not an inconsiderable amount of time (to be wearing the same clothing) yet everyone looked the same with the exception of Yennefer.

The lack of detail in the battles doesn't bother me as the story is more important to me than the spectacle alone. The clarity of the audio seemed to improve too. For those like me who don't already know this story, it was only a pity that the two people certain to meet by destiny, took the whole series to actually, finally meet, and it left no time to discover why that was important.
 

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I finally watched episodes 4 and 5 and they really cooled my enjoyment of the show after the highs of episode 3. Those two were a collection of the worst the show has to offer, chiefly in the technical department. It's always hard to distinguish what was done as a creative decision and what was done as a compromise due to the budget constraints, but rarely have I seen a "triple A" TV show with such uninspired direction and laughable set designs. The Dryads and Brokilon Forest are a disaster. While the location itself is certainly beautiful, the distracting, amateur lighting and cheesy acting of the performers sucked any enjoyment out of the scene. The Dryads are supposed to be at one with the forest, merge with the trees, live within them... In the show they just stand there in the middle of a clearing and talk, while weird unmotivated sources of light keep flaring up in the background.

The writing for these two episodes was pedestrian and the direction relied heavily on tired tropes (Calanthe the Warrior Queen... What a mess). I already held precious little hope in that department but Cavill's acting is really below the standards one should expect of a name of his caliber. His Episode 5 scene with Yennefer, certainly a pivotal scene in both characters' arcs, made me cringe a couple of times and left me indifferent the rest of the time.

The Last Wish and the courting scene of Princess Pavetta were perhaps the two chapters they should have made every effort to get right this season, given their importance in Geralt's development as a character, so I'm disappointed. It seemed every single actor on screen was hamming it up to the max and doing their best not to wink at the camera after each corny line. Even Yennefer, my favourite character so far, seemed only a pale shadow of herself.

I am still enjoying the destructured timeline a lot but I struggled to find anything else there. Although I know the show has potential so I still hope it will redeem itself in the last three chapters.

Edit: the orgy scene. Okay, I get that they want it to be the next GoT but that was embarrassing. Those extras were given no direction except "be naked" and I could almost feel the awkwardness as they just stood there and repeated the exact same motion hundreds of times while the camera kept rolling (their eyes).
 
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  • Just binge watched it all
  • Didn't rate the first episode except for the final sword fights
  • Actually avoided returning for a few days after seeing E1...
  • When I did, Yennifer portalled in and I just had to see how she faired
  • I look forward to a second season and a much bigger budget
 

olive

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I thought about it for a minute because I agree that Yen's purple eyes look much better than Ciri's and Geralt's lenses, so initially I thought you made a good point. But then I thought back about the Star Wars prequels that came out between 1999 and 2005, and how the 'Sith eyes' in those were made using bright red and yellow lenses. I never had a problem with them, in fact they look good to me. My problem with the lenses in the Witcher has nothing to do with colour and everything to do with the fact that the two actors have that dead-fish look about them when they're filmed in close up. I wonder if it's because they found it difficult to get used to them and rarely ever blink, or if the lenses moved about a little and gave the illusion that the characters were cross-eyed . In the scene between Geralt/Dandelion and the elves of the second episode, Cavill made me think of a chameleon simultaneously tracking flies on both sides of his face.

But the 'Sith eyes' example points to what I was saying earlier. How many contradicting expressions you could expect from a Sith Lord? A Sith Lord cannot show anticipation, compassion, love, annoyance, frustration and lust under a minute in his eyes during a conversation, he is not expected to have those conversations either. Also, all Sith Lords have some sort of a concealing, heavy make up complimenting to their eyes. It's either covering all their faces, around their eyes or something strongly emphasised to make them look distinctively inhumane and evil.

Witchers look like humans. Peoples of the realm are scared of witchers, they believe as the result of the trials, they lack human emotions and so they lack conscience; a kind of human morality. And considering even the trained, armed military is often helpless against a witcher while often everyone needs them, they have a point. It's a cat-canary situation. But besides these obvious reasons, what is the first physical thing creeps them out? His eyes. It's the only nonhuman trait that can be seen from outside. It's like a confirmation of his 'inhumaneness'. So the expressions in the eyes gain more importance.

While Geralt has a human makeup and yellow eyes, he is supposed to be showing all range of emotions when needed; he sees, feels too much. (Siths don't need that. The whole point of being a Sith is that you don't need/have to have an excuse, emotion for anything. That's why it is so 'in' in the 21st century and even used as a synonym for real human conditions. Do you know anyone who wants to be a 'witcher'? No, because it is too blip blip hard and painful being a witcher.) And considering Geralt is a special witcher, he probably feels and shows more than any other, because the world he lives in, his range of experience -with nature and all kinds of races and classes of people- his vision of life in that universe is far greater and richer than other beings; even other witchers, mages, sorcerers, warlocks or barbarians...etc. (Following the typical characteristics, there would be exceptions.)

So the colours and the colour match with emotions, expressions... the characters, the categories they are attached to in the human mind... big problem.

Why does Drizzt have lavender eyes while the red eyes is the characteristic trait of the drow? The colour lavender (or purple) is not even remotely alien in the dark world of Menzoberranzan. (As yellow or red is not in ours or in the Witcher's.) With their dark black skin, red eyes -or anything with a taint of red- the drow are very aesthetic and fitting in that world besides fitting a fundamentally dark race in the story. Lavender eyes with black skin? How alien Drizzt must look to his own kin with his expressions, let alone the surface dwellers. But Salvatore chose to give him different colour of eyes so he wouldn't fit in there and stick out like a sore thumb. Geralt is more 'humane' than any other race -also his own- and he sticks like a sore thumb because he is none of them. And if they make a series of the Dark Elf Trilogy, Drizzt's eyes will look more expressive than any yellow or red eyes. Because it will be an easier job for the makeup effect team and most importantly easier for us, real humans to read/match it that way.
 
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The Crawling Chaos

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@olive, I like what you're saying and you make a lot of good points, notably about the makeup/prosthetics covering the faces/heads of Sith actors and helping sell the alien look of their eyes (only Anakin Skywalker, briefly, can be seen in full human form, without heavy makeup and with Sith eyes in the third episode and while I don't remember his lenses being as unconvincing as Geralt's, it was more of a fleeting glimpse than a full-on 8-hour performance for Hayden Christensen so it couldn't have been as distracting anyway).

Unless I misunderstood what you were saying, I have to point out that Geralt is not supposed to show emotions while Sith are (rage, fury, anger, it's all in their creed - "Peace is a lie, there is only passion" - Jedi are the ones who avoid displaying emotions - "There is no emotion, there is only peace"). Through the Trial of the Grasses, Geralt's emotions were sucked out of him. While he can arguably feel love or compassion, he is also always even-tempered, cool-headed and in control. So he is more Jedi than Sith in my opinion, and nobody should ask him to show any emotions at all. In fact, Cavill's performance is much more palatable when he doesn't attempt to.

After giving it a second thought and to go back to the lenses looking unconvincing, just like his wig, I believe my initial statement that the lenses were horrendous was a gross generalization. What it is in fact is yet another example of the cinematography letting down the other departments and enhancing their shortcomings via poor thought-out lighting as opposed to concealing them. There are plenty of scenes where his eyes actually look great and natural:

Witcher1.png
Witcher2.png


But there are scenes, like the one with the elves in Four Marks, in which he looks googly-eyed and cross-eyed.
 

ctg

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The problem with the series is that it doesn't feel Witchery. The general audience doesn't really get that Gerald is a cursed man. He is a monster just like the ones he hunts. But in some level people accept him, and what he and his kind does for the living, because humans really doesn't have an ability to fight the monsters in the Witcher world.

A one bite, a sting, or even a touch from a spectre can kill a normal man or hundreds of them. Especially if we are talking about the ghostly kind. In the Witcher world there are loads of them, but the only thing you really often only see the ghouls type of creatures. The problem with them is that they sprout like mushrooms after rain on the battlefields.

During the time the Witcher series takes a place, especially as the Nilfgaard's first war (the sacking of the Cintra), they leave a lot of dead behind. So it creates a problem as the nature takes it course and the brutally, or wrongly slain come back to haunt the living. The Witchers job is clearing a lot of these problems, but as they are so hated, their numbers have gone down.

There aren't that many left in the world, but there are rumours that there are other places, other schools like Kaer Morhen that might have survived the hatred of men. It was us, the humans who destroyed the peace with the other races, and because of our fears, we couldn't live with the other kind, even though they are part of the Witcher world, or should I say the Witcher Universe.

There are other dimensions, other worlds, parallel to the Witcher universe, and to really understand what is going on, you'll have to get sense about these 'other places.' That is where the Witcher series really fails.

It doesn't translate how much fantasy and magical things there are in this world. You don't even get the sense that Gerald travels from a job to a job and sometimes people cheat him. They don't want to pay for the job, which usually shells out tens, if lucky hundreds of Orens. So, because of the monster hunter job, Witchers come across mystical and often cursed items, which tend to sell for much higher price than the usual stuff. You don't get that sense that they are often poor and they are forced to live in the fringes of society, because that's where the job often is. Rarely you see them riding in the castles, if they do, it's because they have been invited.

Often the reason is that there is something haunting the castle or the grounds. If it's not the dead, it's one of the fantasy creatures that would be too dangerous for the humans to try to handle. Usually the reason is the poison factor. The Witchers can take it. If they know what they are facing, they'll consume potions to give them defence or an edge against the monstrous attacks. In other words they'll poison themselves against those effects.

When they do, you'll see gangrenous veins spreading under their skin. For them, that stage takes them to the edge of death, where they perform extraordinary things. If they can get away from poisoning themselves, they'll use hexes, or signs. Igni is an offensive fire sign that Gerald likes to use, especially against the ghoulish type of opponents.

If he combines it with other signs, you can imagine how hard Witchers can make themselves to take down. They are, in other words, closest resemble to the battlemages you ever see in the small screen. The real magical stuff Yennifer does is way beyond the street level stuff that any witcher can produce, and usually its effect is magnified to the maximum.

So you can't really use magic to solve the problem, because it's part of the problem. The only way for the world to survive is peace or an unification with the older races and accepting them as part of the nature. That is not happening because of short sight humans possess. We just have to destroy things that we cannot understand. This effect is magnified by illiteracy. Most people simply don't know how to read or write, even though humanity gained that ability from the Elves.

Luckily it is changing through the universities and academies, but you can imagine that the poor, they don't have a chance. Yet, it is those people who usually end up being the victims on the monster kind. If they could understand that some of these creatures are very intelligent and they can speak, they would go much further than bringing out torches and pitchforks. That only leads to corpses and consequently add up to the monster problem.

A lot of that doesn't get translated into the small screen or does it?
 

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Is that all in the books, @ctg? Certainly adds a lot of depth to the character...

A friend's daughter is doing makeup on the 2nd series, starting beginning of January. I'll see if I can get insider tips, but pretty sure they all sign NDAs....
 

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