For fans of The Witcher, the next season of the live action series can’t come soon enough. While we all wait impatiently for December to come around, we will have to take solace in The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, the new animated adaptation from Studio Mir and Netflix. I finally found time to sit down and see how this property translated across to animated form.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf and stupid, sexy Vesemir
The movie starts with a carriage being attacked by one of the many monstrous creatures that haunt the world of The Witcher. A dashing and handsome young Witcher appears just in time to save one of the young children on the carriage from the leshen, but the encounter sets in motion a conspiracy to take down the Witcher stronghold in Kaer Morhen.
Turns out the Witcher who saved the young boy is Vesemir, who plays a big role in The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt video game, as well as the books that spawned the series and the games. Up till now Vesemir was the old man teaching the other Witchers how to survive in a world filled with monsters and even more dangerous people. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is our first glimpse at him as a young man — one who was rash and greedy and impatient, but the kind of hot mess of a man who belongs in our Humpday Husbandos feature.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is focused on the event that wiped out most of the Witchers in Kaer Morhen and caused them to lose the ability to create more of their kind. It is something that the games and the series both allude to, but seeing it play out is an interesting bit of lore for fans. There are a number of name-drops that fans will pick up on — but which won’t make too much of a difference to anyone who isn’t already familiar with the games.
It is worth noting that this movie is produced by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, the executive producer and showrunner of The Witcher live action series on Netflix, so it is fair to assume that The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf serves as more than simply keeping our interest until December — it could be considered a prequel story. We already know that Vesemir will be a part of the next season of the show, so expect at least some aspects of this story to carry over to the live action show.
The plot that we get is straightforward. Each upcoming beat can be seen approaching. It works well enough to give us more moments with the shockingly hot Vesemir, and it even manages to give us a hot tub scene that would make Geralt blush. There is romance and regret and betrayal and everything else you would want from the grim setting. But like much of the rest of the movie, it is always just “good enough” and never truly great.
The fights in The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf are as brutal as you would expect from the grimdark subject matter. Each one takes the gore of Castlevania even further to an almost excessive degree. Though they are often creatively designed and beautifully animated, this is definitely not a movie for the squeamish. The Witcher has always embraced the darkest part of the grimdark genre, so it is in keeping with the setting.
The cast is solid enough throughout and they bring the characters to life, but their delivery is occasionally overshadowed by some dodgy sound balancing — the music or sound effects become slightly too loud for the dialogue to be clearly heard at times. It isn’t always an issue and during the most intense moments there is little dialogue to be missed, but it occasionally becomes a problem at key moments.
In all, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is worth watching for fans of the series, whether they come in from the show, the games, or the books, but it never reaches beyond the average in most areas outside of its portrayal of young, sexy Vesemir. It is certainly a different look to him than what we can expect to see in a few months when the live action show finally returns.
Ultimately, though, for all the hype around this property at the moment, this animated movie doesn’t quite live up to it. Good, not great.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is currently streaming on Netflix.
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