The origin of the blood, back to the Continent long before


Spoiler-free review of The Witcher. The origin of the blood. Premiere on Netflix on December 25.

Following the recent news that Henry Cavill will be leaving The Witcher after season three airs in 2023 on Netflix (Liam Hemsworth will take over the lead role in season four), it’s easy to assume that the popular fantasy franchise could be on the decline. However, Netflix proves that there are still plenty of fun stories to tell set in the imaginative universe of author Andrzej Sapkowski with its entertaining prequel miniseries, The Witcher: Dawn of Blood. Set 1,200 years before the adventures of Geralt of RiviaSet in a time before monsters and humans roamed the continent, Descent of Blood packs a punch, featuring a captivating band of misfits beautifully reminiscent of popular American westerns.

The story of The Witcher: The Origin of Blood stands out more for its preparation for the Conjunction of the Spheres and the creation of the first prototype of the Witcher than for the final outcome. Part of the story is hampered by political machinations in the ancient city of Xin-Trea, where the young princess Merwyn (Mirren Mack) and the lowborn sorcerer Balor (Lenny Henry) conspire to gain ultimate power on The Continent. We leave you to discover for yourself what that power is and why the Golden Empire desires it. Although Mack and Henry offer good performancesits characters lack the dynamism and development of our band of misfits.

The seven outcasts and their respective adventures are without a doubt the highlight of The Witcher: Origin of Blood and are worth watching on their own. Each one has its own story and personality.. If I have one complaint about the group, it’s that I wish they had dedicated more than four episodes to them.

The first two installments of the miniseries mostly serve to bring them together, with Laurence O’Fuarain’s Fjall and Sophia Brown’s Éile serving as de facto leaders of the group. Michelle Yeoh brings a welcome touch of gravitas as the elf sword master Scian. Yeoh continues to reign as a true villain in everything she does, as she fights her way through waves of enemy soldiers. As usual in The Witcher, the action scenes are awesomewith stellar fight choreography and lots of blood.

Aside from the action, creator Declan De Barra (The Witcher), along with directors Vicky Jewson and Sarah O’Gorman, also make superb use of the stunning Icelandic landscapes. Each scene in which Fjall, Scian and Éile traverse the magnificent landscape on their journey contributes to the otherworldly character of the series, transporting us to a fantasy land like no other. The excellent use of scenery with our heroes overshadows the less interesting aspects of the story once it focuses on what happens in Xin-Trea, where the lush landscapes are replaced by pre-made sets that look like… well, sets.

Speaking of visual effects, the special effects shots, especially in regards to the monsters, they are not as polished as the ones we have seen in The Witcher or in more recent high-budget fantasy series, such as The House of the Dragon or The Rings of Power. But while some of the creatures in Origin of Blood lacked a bit of refinement in the special effects department, they never completely took me out of the story.

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Descent of Blood could have used a few more hours to bring the series to a satisfying conclusion.

Going back to seven one of The Witcher’s most unexpected and welcome surprises: The Origin of Blood is a fearsome dwarf named Meldof, memorably played by Francesca Mills, who wields a mighty hammer she calls “Gwen.” Meldof’s history and reasons for wanting revenge on the Golden Empire rival those of any of her comrades. And Mills is so funny and charming that her character could star in a spinoff.

the series too offers some fun easter eggs for fans of both the video games and the books, with cameos and references to some notable names from The Witcher history. But as the series draws to a close and the battle for power on The Continent comes to a head with the Seven and the Golden Empire, the series begins to unravel a bit. While it’s nice that this entry into The Witcher universe offers more context as to why the Conjunction of the Spheres happened and how the first Witcher came to be, it all seems very rushed in the final episode. While I applaud the creators for not wanting to waste their time, Origin of Blood could have used a few more hours to bring the series to a satisfying conclusion.

The Witcher: Dawn of Blood delivers a memorable, action-packed vision of how the Conjunction of the Spheres and the creation of the first prototype of Sorcerer took place. Although the villains and political plot around the Golden Empire are less interesting, the series is bolstered by its attractive group of misfits who travel the continent kicking ass wherever they go. And while the special effects aren’t up to par with more recent big-budget fantasy series, The Mainland’s stellar use of the Icelandic landscape as its backdrop more than makes up for the lackluster appearance of the monsters.

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