As 2017 draws to a festive close, fantasy fanatics are becoming acutely aware of the looming final season heralding the end of Game of Thrones. For all my fellow nerds concerned about scratching their itch for sword wielding shenanigans, I bring you good tidings of great joy. The Witcher is coming to Netflix, and it is going to be sick. For the pessimists among you, I see your worried Facebook comments, I read your reviews of Iron Fist, but fear not! Here are four reasons to get hyped for the Witcher on Netflix.
4) Andrzej Sapkowski – The source material
For the uninitiated, the name above is not an Ikea ottoman. Andrzej Sapkowski is the author of “The Witcher” book series, and he’s an award-winning novelist. His magnum opus, The Witcher novels, were released four years before the first “Game of Thrones” book hit shelves. If you haven’t heard of the series that’s probably because they were originally released in Polish, before being translated into NINETEEN LANGUAGES. Like the great and honorable Tolkien, Sapkowski created a fascinating language, called Elder Speech, to flesh out the fantasy world of The Witcher. While the game world has quite a few differences from the original novels, the Netflix series will be focusing more on the books, and as Game of Thrones showed us, staying close to quality source material is a very good thing. Like George R.R. Martin, Sapkowski will serve as a creative consultant on the series. While Sapkowski was not ecstatic about being associated with gaming, he’s very optimistic about the series. He recently said in a statement: “I’m thrilled that Netflix will be doing an adaptation of my stories, staying true to the source material and the themes that I have spent over thirty years writing,” Sapkowski also said – “I’m excited about our efforts together, as well as the team assembled to shepherd these characters to life.” Sapkowski has shown himself to be a perfectionist in interviews, so his endorsement for the series carries significant weight with those familiar with the author. If you want to brush up on your Elder Speech before the series comes out, have some fun with an unofficial translator.
3) Platige Image – The artists
This Polish based company’s special effects are the best choice for the Witcher series, and not just because they’re academy award nominated. They were the team responsible for ALL the Witcher cinematics. People who have played the game know the Witcher cinematics are second to none, and already feel movie quality despite being only brief glimpses into the world. Witcher is popular here, but across the pond it has an intense cult following. Imagine the dedication of Harry Potter fans with less quidditch and more swords, basically that. Platige has shown a deft understanding of that rabid fan base, and are very good at keeping them satiated. If the Witcher series is fully CGI animated, which it could very well be, (nobody knows yet, and the official Netflix page is frustratingly vague.) – this studio will knock it out of the park. Do yourself a favor and look at some Platige’s beautiful work here.
2) The Expanse Production team
“The Expanse” is a sprawling space opera that dwarfs most other Sci-Fi series. It shows strong influences from Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Blade Runner, and even Firefly. It was also based on a series of books with an intense cult following by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. The series is incredibly well-executed, and the production team did a phenomenal job of ensuring the world is rendered beautifully and believably. Sean Daniel and Jason Brown were both executive producers on the series, and they will be lending their talents to the Witcher. While the Sci-Fi elements may seem to contrast thematically with Witcher, there are more similarities than differences. Both universes were based on incredibly deep novels with complex storytelling and cult fan bases. There’s also a deal of realism in both series, and Daniel and Brown have proven themselves to be more than competent and keeping that physical and emotional weight, even in a world that is often in zero gravity. With this kind of skill behind the production team the creative artists at Platige and the source material of Sapkowski are in highly capable hands.
1) Tomek Baginski – The visionary director
With the amazing story, talented artists, and capable production team, the deck is completely stacked in the Witcher’s favor. But Netflix’s real trump card is their director, Tomek Baginski. Baginski directed all the Witcher opening cinematics, and Andrzej Sapkowski credits Baginski as the reason he signed onto the project in the first place. We dug up a Sapkowski interview, originally in Polish, but the translation of Sapkowski’s statement on the choice of Baginski is that it was, “Very strong. It’s hard to find a stronger one. If not for Tomek, there wouldn’t be this project at all.”
In more ways than one, the creation of the Netflix series is really thanks to Baginski. His cinematic work on the games is a huge factor in their popularity. He has read the entire series and has a tremendous appreciation for the original work. Baginski said in an interview: “There is a moral and intellectual depth in these books which goes beyond genre. It is a story about today and today’s challenges, hidden under a fantasy cover. It is a story about us, about the monster and the hero inside all of our hearts.”
Baginski has proven himself up to the challenge of bringing that story to life. His For Honor cinematic trailer still gives us chills. Even more encouraging, he has experience working with Platige Image on multiple projects. The biggest pitfall in series and silver screen adaptations are creative differences between studios, production teams, writers, and directors. Luckily for Witcher fans, the Netflix series will have none of those issues. Unfortunately, there is precious little information about the series for now. The studio hasn’t given a release date and there is endless speculation about who will play main character Geralt. Fans can stay hyped by watching Witcher 3’s launch cinematic, while tearfully clutching a miniature Geralt to their chests, it’s what we’ll be doing.