Netflix in May 2020 offered a glimpse into the future of videogame adaptations done right in TV shows.
The Witcher (Season 1) [9/10]
Videogame adaptations for the big or smaller screen haven’t always been successful, usually because too much content can’t be used for a 2-hour movie or short TV show. Even though the first season of The Witcher has its fair share of pacing problems, especially with lots of flashbacks that aren’t presented as such so that it’s hard to know when events take place, it’s probably one of the best efforts that does the novel/game source material justice. Those who’ve played The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt will see many known story branches, but it’s not a 1:1 retelling of the story, more like a prequel. Those who haven’t played any of the games are still catered for, because the series offers lots of violent and brutal fights with plenty blood and gore, sex scenes, some good horror set-pieces and drama elements that work. Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Geralt of Rivia certainly needs some getting used to, as his delivery of lines are so over-the-top monotone and emotionless, but one soon finds the sarcasm and subtle humor with quite a few very funny moments to be much more entertaining than in many big-budget productions. It’s too bad that the TV show heritage becomes apparent in some not-so-great creature or spellcasting special effects, and there are some dialogue scenes that could have been trimmed. Overall, it’s as faithful as a game adaptation can be, with excellent music (especially the bard Dandelion’s songs) and a storyline that always offers something interesting and new despite each episode having a runtime of around 1 hour each and 8 episodes in total.
After Netflix did the rather disappointing Castlevania anime show (see Netflix watchlist: July 2017 and Netflix watchlist: October 2019 for Season 1 and Season 2 respectively), expectations weren’t high for a good game adaptation, but The Witcher delivered on the promises to immerse the audience in almost the same way as the RPGs/novels did. So hopefully the next season will continue the tradition of bloody fantasy.