As an avid fan of the hit Netflix series “The Witcher,” I was devastated when I originally burned through the eight, hour-long episodes very quickly. However, Aug. 23 brought some new content with the release of “The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf,” an animated movie independent from the first series that’s actually worth watching.
My initial excitement about this new series was short-lived when I learned the characters would be unfamiliar and the plot would be completely unrelated to that of “The Witcher.” However, I soon came to realize that while the stories may be different, the world that both productions share was greatly benefited by this new animated film.
“The Witcher” was at the top of many lists of quarantine shows, including my own, even though it was released in December of 2019. While the new animated style of the movie doesn’t have quite the same appeal as the live-action series (think animated “Game of Thrones”), it was a good way to add on to what we already know about witchers and mages leading up to “The Wicher’s” season two release this December.
I thoroughly enjoyed the original series, but when the season ended it felt unfair that although we got to see Yennefer of Vengerberg’s transformation from outcast to sorceress, the process for witchers wasn’t revealed. Luckily, this new film shows just that, which has made me reconsider Geralt of Rivia’s (the protagonist of “The Witcher”) actions and personality traits with this new information in mind.
“The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf” follows Vesemir (voiced by Theo James) at three points in time concerning his witcher transformation; we see before it, during it and several years after it. My impression of the first few minutes of the film was negative; Vesemir’s conduct was so unlike Geralt’s that I found it difficult to empathize with him, but this quickly changed as I witnessed the harrowing process Vesemir endured to escape a life of servitude and become a witcher.
Another divide between Vesemir and Geralt is the portrayal of Vesemir as a more human-like figure. He laughs and shows emotion while also maintaining the rigid exterior of a witcher. Geralt definitely took a bit longer to warm up to; his past was mysterious enough to where his ice-cold facade hardly felt like a facade at all. The walls Geralt built were made of brick, while I’d classify Vesemir’s walls as plaster.
A great aspect of the movie is the fact that it’s not just for fans of the show. Someone totally ignorant to existing characters or plot lines will be able to enjoy “The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf” almost as much as someone who is in the know.
I say “almost” because, throughout the film, there are subtle references to parts of the series. For example, the song Sugo sings at the very beginning sounds a lot like a signature Jaskier (Geralt’s sidekick in the series) jingle. There’s also a short scene where Vesemir has visions of grandeur and riches, something that is heavily emphasized in the original show.
Stylistically, I think live-action works better for the “Witcher” universe, but generally speaking, the animation is beautifully executed. Oftentimes, the nature backgrounds are reminiscent of Monet-type paintings, giving those entire scenes a well-put-together feel.
Some would say the extensive violence in this movie is gratuitous, but I think it’s necessary in order to prove that the film and the show are set in the same place. Besides, what’s a dark, horror/fantasy movie without a little blood?
I would highly recommend “The Witcher: Nightmare Of the Wolf” to anyone, regardless of if you’ve seen the original show or not. If you’re someone who likes the fantasy genre, this is an entertaining movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat for a couple of hours.
Emma Trevino is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @itsemmatr