The world of The Witcher comes to life as the animated adult dark fantasy The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf delves into Andrzej Sapkowski’s rich lore that left many of The Witcher Netflix series fans a little out of the loop when it comes to mages, magic, and monster slaying.
Nightmare Of the Wolf is set as a spinoff to The Witcher universe and mythos and while we typically stay focused primarily on Geralt and his adventures in mainline media, here, we follow the early life of Vesemir, a Witcher who would ultimately go on to be a longtime mentor to our beloved Geralt of Rivia.
Vesemir is cocky, seemingly arrogant, and interested in satisfying his own desires above anything else, a much different demeanor than what fans of the game know him as in his later years. While the beginning of the film set the pace for the rest of the narrative it did lose itself a bit after its initial start. But as soon as it laid the groundwork for what’s to come, it effortlessly gave fans the answers to many questions: “How are Witchers made?” “Where do Witchers come from” “Is the Wolf medallion a tool for Witchers or are they just a fashion statement?”
Trial of the Grasses, the process in which a Witcher is made, was so raw and gritty. The gruesome torture of the orphan boys and their fate at the hands of monsters and survival makes you question if being a Witcher is worth it. The Wolf medallion worn by the Witchers has just felt like a cool novelty, but in Nightmare of the Wolf, the medallion is shown to be integral to the survival of Witchers, humming and vibrating as creatures near their proximity. Callbacks to monsters like the Striga was an excellent way to link the live-action show with the animated one. There is even a scene that harkens back to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game DLC “Heart of Stone” which made me smile from ear to ear. Seeing such detail being added to a spin-off animated film is refreshing.
While callbacks and answers to burning questions were interweaved, the movie also brought in a whole cast of new characters and gave nearly everyone a chance to shine, Sorceress Tetra is reminiscent of Yennefer in her appearance as well as her outlook on life, never shying away from making hard decisions as well as being ruthless and calculating. The sweet and fair Illyana, who also doesn’t waver in her beliefs, almost directly matched Tetra but with a regal composure that spoke volumes. Luka, while minor, had such a great edgy personality. Deglan’s a gruff and cynical Witcher but willing to do anything for his Kaer Morhen brethren.
The voice acting is phenomenal. The fight scenes are wondrous cinematic and smooth. Vesemir is riding monsters, exploding them with a fistful of fire, slashing and whipping through the air with his swords. It all felt exhilarating and a feast for the eyes. Theo James is so good as Vesemir. He knows how to deliver his witty quips but effortlessly balances a more sentimental and virtuous side without sacrificing one over the other. Just as Henry Cavill fits Geralt perfectly, I think it’s worth stating that Theo James was born to play the role of a young Vesemir thrown into the world of monster-slaying and secrets.
While Henry Cavill’s The Witcher series is great I think one of the faults of the show’s first season is that it hardly ever explains anything about the fictional world and lore. It tends to drag you along expecting you to keep up. However, Nightmare Of the Wolf wants you to learn stuff with flashbacks and careful, intentional dialogue that helps bring the audience into the fold and fills in the gaps that the live-action leaves behind.
After watching this animated movie, I’m very excited for Mentor Vesemir to appear in The Witcher season 2 and hopefully give us more insight into Vesemir’s life and if Nightmare of the Wolf will be part of his origin story and will be explored further.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf was released on Netflix on August 23, 2021. If you’re a fan of the live-action The Witcher series and want answers, you should go watch it.
Author: Micah Carrillo
Micah is studying English and Digital Design. His love of geek culture spans across diverse mediums and genres. Comics, anime, films, you name it! He enjoys video games on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox.
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