I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t read The Witcher books, or played the games from CD Projekt Red. However, I heard about how good the latter was, so I decided to watch the Netflix series. While it wasn’t the best, the show was good. So when I heard that they were doing an anime prequel, I was definitely intrigued, and regardless of how much you know of the lore of the franchise, The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf is a very good film to watch.
This is a proper prequel to The Witcher in various ways. Because it sets its focus not on Geralt of Rivia, but rather, his mentor, Vesemir. A Witcher who was born and raised during the “prime” of his kind, if you will. And The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf goes deep into how things were, how things were perceived, and how things were eventually made by the time Geralt grew to be a full-time hunter of monsters.
What can’t be stressed enough is that Vesemir is not Geralt, not at all. While Geralt was one to take coins and kill monsters to survive, Vesemir is someone who frankly revels in being a hunter, drinking, being with ladies, and so on. What’s more, we see that he CHOSE the life of a Witcher, something that Geralt and others had no choice in doing.
It’s honestly quite refreshing to see this kind of light-hearted version of the monster hunter race given the very blunt and gruff Geralt that Henry Cavill gave us (not an insult, just how he was portrayed in season 1). It also helps set the stage for all that was to come, as we see Vesemir come to grips with what his race really is, and the hatred and prejudice that fear can create.
Because as we learn, the mages that make Witchers also made monsters, all so that the human race wouldn’t kill them like they killed many of the dwarves and elves before them (something that’s hammered home in the proper way).
This hatred is personified by Tetra, a mage who believes that Witchers are no more than corruption needing to be wiped out. But as we see later on, she’s no saint and has her own corrupted ways, methods, and motivations for doing what she feels needs to be done.
If there is a lesson to be learned in The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf, it’s that we are all monsters, it just differs how we show it. The Witchers were bred to be monsters that kill other monsters and stay alive. Humans are monsters because they fear and hate everything that isn’t them (something that absolutely is relevant in our current world). The other species are their own kind of monster in the lengths they’ll go to survive at times (seen by one of the villains in Kitsu) and so on.
The plot does not hold back on things, especially when it comes to the violence.
Because not unlike the Castlevania series on Netflix, this film is VIOLENT!!!! Like, brutally so. Just in the first few minutes we see someone impaled by a plant (in brutal fashion), we see kids ruthlessly murdered, and in the epic climax we see people ripped limb from limb, their heads explode, and more. It’s…a lot. And there will be some who won’t want to watch this simply because of those things.
That being said, if you can overlook the blood and guts (literally), you’ll find a beautifully animated movie by Studio Mir. Whom Netflix has worked with before via Voltron: Legendary Defender. Their style is prevalent throughout and it’s clear that they were the right studio for the job.
The choreography of the film is amazing, and the battles are wonderfully shot as they showcase the full power of the Witchers, mages, humans, monsters, and everything in between. It’s visually stunning and should be praised as such.
There are a few things that do hold this movie back though. It does help that you know the lore of the books or at the very least the first season of the Netflix show to get a grasp of things. Not a breaking point, but it does leave certain situations that’ll confuse viewers.
Another thing is that while stylish, there were points where the story almost rushes to certain events and conclusions, making one wonder how we got there. A key betrayal for example done by Tetra was literally shown in a few sentences and yet I couldn’t understand how Kitsu fell for it. Also, in the climax, an illusion was done that lead to Vesemir doing a mistake and it wasn’t made clear when this illusion was cast at all.
Add to that the fact that the movie is under 90 minutes. This is fine in context; it didn’t need to be a 2-hour-plus epic. However, a few extra minutes could’ve helped flesh out the story and characters just a bit more. Especially given that you technically knew the ending in regards to how The Witchers were basically wiped out.
Still, in spite of all of that, I hope this The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf review shows that the team did a great job of telling the tale it wanted to tell, and it makes me very excited for what will happen in The Witcher Season 2. Especially if/when Vesemir shows up to greet his protege once again.
The Witcher Nightmare Of The Wolf Review
The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf went full-tilt in various ways to tell a powerful prequel tale. It won’t be for everyone due to the violence, but it’s a striking story both in visuals and in plot.
- The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf Review