The Witcher has been a popular show for Netflix so it’s no surprise the streaming platform is creating a universe based off the fantasy series. We received an animated prequel spin-off film last year centered on Vesemir, the mentor of main character, Geralt. This Christmas day, we’ll go back further in time in The Witcher: Blood Origin.
The story occurs in an era 1200 years before where seven strangers come together to confront a powerful force looking to rule the land. As we follow these heroes on their journey, Blood Origin promises to reveal the origins of the prototype for the first Witcher as well as the cause of the previously referenced “Conjunction of the Spheres.” Unlike the flagship series, there is no source material to reference so viewers are taken to an unexplored part of the universe.
Blood Origin provides an engaging sword and sorcery adventure. We begin with Éile (Sophia Brown), a fighter turned bard, and Fjall (Laurence O’Fuarain), a headstrong warrior and protector of royalty. Though different people, the parallels in their lives serve as an effective way to intertwine the two as we follow the quest. Little by little their merry band grows and it demonstrates the makings of a grass roots revolution and how easily a legend can grow. This is further enhanced by a running theme of storytelling and its importance.
The talented Brown rises to the challenge of being a movement’s figurehead. She fills her character with equal parts charisma and empathy, which helps the one called “The Lark” connect with the masses and inspire. Almost as likeable are the other members of the seven, Meldof (Francesca Mills) and Callan (Huw Novelli). It would be easy to use their noticeable size differences for comic relief, but its their playful banter that makes the pair so endearing. Mills and Novelli have great chemistry with each other, and how entertaining their scenes together are makes you wish that Callan had a bigger role. Furthermore, though other members of the group have their roles, they still are underdeveloped.
Visually, there are many gorgeous landscapes creating this fantastical setting. The architecture of buildings and costuming draw partial influences from our different cultures creating an exotic but familiar worldly feeling. You notice the high production values, and the various locations exhibit as much diversity as the elves that inhabit the continent. However, at times, it seems the cities are a bit sparse and not as lived in because of the absence of many extras.
Of course, The Witcher: Blood Origin has plenty of exciting and brutal action sequences. To help distinguish each warrior, they have their own signature weapon. This helps instill some freshness into the choreography. Michelle Yeoh’s sword master, Scian, doesn’t disappoint and she is as graceful as she is deadly. The conclusion has an epic quality with fights taking part on different fronts.
One area where the series doesn’t seem as strong is with its antagonists. The exploration into their motives doesn’t contribute to who they are as characters, while all their interactions creates a muddled mess of agendas. Luckily, the heroes’ side of the tale overcomes these limitations.
On its own, Blood Origin tells a satisfying story. It’s interesting to learn about the first Witcher and what really occurred during the “Conjunction of the Spheres.” However, does it provide answers to questions people were clamoring for? In addition, it doesn’t really enrich the bigger picture. That’s not to say there aren’t significant implications. Those familiar with the book series might enjoy some aspects introduced and will be curious how they will influence later seasons. Also, as we know from the trailer, Jaskier is involved. It’s a clever inclusion that helps reinforce the overarching themes.
Blood Origin is a good standalone series with alluring characters and thrilling action sequences, but fans may be disappointed with its place in the greater narrative of The Witcher universe.
The Witcher: Blood Origin premieres December 25 on Netflix.
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