The Witcher on Netflix: Reviewing a History of Adaptation Failure

The Witcher on Netflix: Reviewing a History of Adaptation Failure

All that we’ve gotten from this project so far is a short teaser of Henry Cavill, in the role of Geralt, walking out of the shadows and taking a sip of a potion, but already I’m hyped. I was a bit late to the Witcher series; only getting interested with the buzz and hype surrounding Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Since then, I have dived back into the world from CD Projekt and honestly see it as one of the greatest game series of all time. Roaming through battle worn ruins and hacking through monsters as Geralt of Rivia became the stuff of video game legend, and in 2019, the world of The Witcher comes to the silver screen.

 That’s right since late 2017 Netflix has been developing an adaptation of the hit series and the pay-off shall arrive sometime this year. Now, without a release date officially confirmed it might be a bit early to get excited, but I’m going to anyway. And I’m going to do so because there is a surprising amount more at stake here than just a single entertaining TV to binge watch. There have been years and years of video game to film attempts before; and yet close to none of them have been able to capture the same kind of enjoyment or consistency that gamers have found from the source material. 

Honestly, it’s insane how many amazing game series have been ruined in film form. A lot of which have been very recent failures such as Hitman: Agent 47 (2015). I don’t know if I’ve ever been as angry with a movie as I was with this one. Personally, I felt that the 2007 Hitman movie did an okay job. Timothy Olyphant did a fine job as the emotionless assassin and the action was enjoyable, but the actual plot was just so Hollywood. The real question ends up being, do the people behind the production “get it?” (This will be a running theme throughout) 

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Assassin’s Creed (2016) is another perfect example of not “getting it.” Instead of Desmond Miles we got Callum Lynch. Instead of Altair we got Aguilar. Instead of the simple Animus table we’ve all come to recognize over the course of a decade of games, we got some enormous puppeteering contraption that Michael Fassbender jumps around in shirtless. Everything here is so incorrect and done because it is being created under a trendy banner. How could a story as tightly woven and interesting as the very first Assassin’s Creednot be made into a great movie? There isn’t even that much you need to do differently. 

It seems so strange that games have been so difficult to bring to life given that the majority of them attempt to mirror “real life” in terms of graphics and effects. Add onto that the award-winning storylines that have been developed for games and you think it would be a slam dunk. I would argue that the studios behind production typically do not trust the source material. There is an old-fashioned disgust from Hollywood higher ups who see games as being silly or unworthy of their time. So, they try and throw a bunch of money into explosions and A-list stars to create a very manufactured and fake looking version of the game. 

My hope for the upcoming Witcher series is a true work of fan service. And no, not just fan service to appease angry fans online. No, I want to see something that shows that the showrunners understand and trust the world that they are helping portray. After all, this will be the second actual adaptation of the Witcher. The Witcher was originally a book series by Andrzej Sapkowski. It was then turned into a game by CD Projekt. So, I would like to challenge those at Netflix working on the show. Video games made a great interpretation for this story and world. Can television do better?

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