This past weekend Netflix dropped their latest chapter in the world of Witchers. Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf serves as a prequel to not only the live action story, but Geralt himself. Nightmare of the Wolf runs for 1 hour 23 minutes and focuses on Vesemir, the man who would train Geralt from a small boy. Vesemir gets called upon to slay a new monster, but this job begins a quest that uncovers answers he never thought there were questions for. In a world of monsters, Witchers, mages and politicians, don’t trust anyone!
The anime in this movie is as sharp as ever. Netflix and their art department have largely been hitting homeruns with their original anime. The show can be light and well colored, but when it needs to it does an excellent job giving off the horror vibe it needs, and make no mistake. This TV-MA is truly an MA movie. Not only are there men’s butts and women’s breasts, but within the opening minutes a tentacle plunges through the back of a man’s head and rips him to shreds. Body parts go flying left and right, so this is by no means kid friendly (not that any of the franchise is). Make sure there are no little eyes floating around when you watch it.
Hubba Hubba Hubba, Who Do You Trust?
Much like Joker asking the citizens of Gotham who they trust in the 1989 Batman, this movie really begs the question who do you trust? It’s a question Vesemir needs to answer, but when he does, he wishes he hadn’t. This new monster he hunts breaks the mold of known monsters. In fact several recently slain monsters do this as well. Monsters cannot interbreed, so the new cross-breed monsters that pop up can only mean one thing. Someone is engineering these creatures for some other purpose. The Witchers do not like Mages. The politicians don’t like the monsters and everyone hates the Witchers. When trying to solve a mystery where everyone hates everyone else, it’s a good idea to don’t trust anyone.
The story does a lot of flashing back to Vesemir’s early days as a poor child. He sees the life of a Witcher as an escape and improvement to his everyday slogging. His only friend is a young girl named Illyana. She tries to change Vesemir’s mind on becoming a Witcher, but he wants out of this poor provincial life. Not to worry as their paths would cross again when Vesemir grows older.
Nightmare of the Wolf delves into what boys go through to become Witchers and it’s not pretty. The title of Witcher is essentially a title of attrition. The ones who become Witchers are the ones who do not die from the process. Vesemir becomes one of the few to survive the transformation. In the process he becomes night and day different from Geralt. Not all Witchers are as hardened as Geralt. Vesemir’s love of life and finer amenities makes for a nice change in the world of Witchers.
Don’t Trust Anyone – Netflix Streak Continues
The streak of well made Netflix movies continues with this addition. I cannot say the story surprises you with any shocking twists, but it is well told. Betrayals do not need to be a surprise to carry weight, and the story told here really sets up the reputation of Witchers, mages and politicians alike.
The voice cast lacks any real stand outs, but again that can be a plus. I hate watching voiceovers and cannot get an actor’s other personas out of my head. The most notable voice is that of Mary McDonnell who plays Lady Zerbst. As a champion of the Witchers at court, McDonnell gives her usual solid performance and brings some warmth to Lady Zerbst. Theo James voices the suave, swashbuckling Vesemir. His name may not sound familiar, but you will recognize his face from movies like Underworld: Blood Wars and the Divergent movies. He does a great job bringing Vesemir to life and making him fun, charismatic and charming.
Lara Pulver also does a nice job of voicing the mage, Tetra. Tetra runs the gambit from Witcher lyncher to Vesemir’s quest partner. Her ability to play off Vesemir while holding her own presence really helps this movie. Finally, Graham McTavish plays the role of Vesemir’s mentor, Deglan. People might know him as Dwalin from The Hobbit or Dijkstra from Cavill’s The Witcher. He brings a gruff humanity to this role that needs to swing a number of ways as the movie progresses.
Don’t Trust Anyone – Keep ’em Comin’
While I do not know that anything “popped” or stood out as excellent with Nightmare of the Wolf, it doesn’t have too. This is an extremely solid entry into the world of the Witchers. It only runs less than an hour and a half, but it adds a ton of detail into and about the world while telling a full and complete story. If you are a Witcher fan or simply like good, gory anime, this project is for you. I hope Netflix keeps these projects coming. As great as the live action show(s) are, a solid anime like this can be easier to produce, faster to produce, and often do not carry the lofty weight of expectations of the live action stories.
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