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Review: ‘The Witcher’, season one

Geralt of Rivia comes to Netflix in this first season based on the books.

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© Variety

In the adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy series, Henry Cavill trades in his red cape for a white wig, broadsword and the gift of hunting monsters – but does that make for a good series?

Trailer for Netflix’s The Witcher

8.5/10

One of the first things we need to cover is that no, the show is not a 1:1 adaptation of the video game series. The Witcher 3 which saw a release on the Sony Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch, is part of Sapkowski’s book series that has existed long before the games. Another disclaimer I’m going to put forward is that I have not yet read the books, but, this show has certainly turned me towards wanting to read them.

What this show does well is make you think for yourself. It does not hold your hand through the narrative. Characters come and go and you are tasked to remember who is who and their importance in the story. It may take some one episode and others will need the entire season (consisting of eight hour-long episodes).

The story takes an interesting turn in its narrative by not telling it linearly. I can’t say much more without spoiling the surprise as the timeline for the show comes together around episode 4 titled ‘Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials’, but when everything begins to click, it takes an interesting turn because what seems like separate storylines turns into a game of cat-and-mouse of sorts.

Sapkowski gave his blessing for showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich to take the characters of Geralt of Rivia, Ciri, Yennefer and others to the small screen, and Netflix didn’t spare the expense to help.

The battles and magic are not skimped on in terms of money which is surprising for fantasy shows in their first season. HBO even held back on financing large-scale battles for their now-hit show Game of Thrones until late into its second season.

The sword choreography is also on a different level. It’s brutal, fast and pulls no punches in going for the most gruesome kills it can. Every swing of Geralt’s broadsword is felt and every battle is filmed with enough breathing room to see what’s going on without being too far from the core of the action.

Henry Cavill was a bit of head-scratcher to play to Geralt initially, but after the first episode, he falls into place very quickly. Anya Chalotra, for me, was the breakout star of the first season as Yennefer of Vengerberg. Her story starts out very hard and emotional, but by the end of the first season, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Freya Allen plays Ciri, or Princess Cirilla of Cintra. She doesn’t get as much powerful material to work with as Cavill or Chalotra, but she’s far from underused and boring. Part of the charm of knowing she’s Ciri is it’s only a matter of time before her and Geralt come into contact with one another.

Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli score the show and their accompaniments fit the gothic fantasy world of The Witcher, however it lacks any memorable themes or motifs that help bring the world and characters to life.

All in all, for a first season, the show came out swinging and kept me thoroughly engaged from start to finish. Where other studios may have played it a lot more safe and downplayed the magic, Netflix has delivered right out of the gate with spells, dragons, monsters and battles.

The Witcher has been renewed for second season which is expected for 2021. ■

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MGM holds preliminary talks to sell properties

The studio will be the next one looking to get rid of their assets.

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© Metro Goldwyn Mayer

The studio has sought potentially interested companies in purchasing their assets which contain one of the biggest franchises in film history.

The film studio MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer) has sat down with interested buyers for their film assets which includes the James Bond catalog.

The two biggest interested parties are Apple and Netflix. The outcome of either one would lead to an interesting future for franchises like Bond where any subsequent instalments in the franchise could lead to streaming-only content.

Apple’s new streaming service launched with very little hype, at least in comparison to its recent competitor in Disney+, but adding something like James Bond to it could draw some subscribers, especially if any future movies, or series, are kept exclusively to Apple TV+.

Should either of these companies move ahead with the acquisition, it will also lend to a shift to the ‘big six’ of media companies, which include; Disney, Netflix, Amazon, Comcast, AT&T and Apple.

Aside from Bond, one of the other large properties coming with an MGM acquisition includes The Handmaid’s Tale which has been a popular show on Hulu for the past couple of years.

No finalized buys have been singled out. ■

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‘Captain Marvel 2’ officially in development

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© DigitalSpy

Carol Danvers’ sequel has officially been greenlit at Marvel Studios and is aiming for a 2022 release.

Debuting twice in a small window of March – May 2019, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) thundered into the MCU and became an icon for young women everywhere. Now, in a world post-Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios is moving ahead with a sequel for 2022.

Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, however, are not expected to return. Marvel is still looking to keep the female eye for the director’s chair but no frontrunners have been announced. Boden and Fleck will remain with Marvel Studios in some capacity, and are rumoured to be discussing an upcoming Disney+ property.

The film is expected to take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame despite the mild cliffhanger teased in the first film which hinted at a long-running war between Carol and Ronan The Accuser.

The sequel will be written by WandaVision scribe Magen McDonnell.

Captain Marvel 2 will come to theatres in 2022. ■

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‘Clone Wars’ trailer drops ahead of final season

The anticipation builds for a finale.

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Marketing material via Lucasfilm.

Get ready to fly back to a time in that galaxy far, far away you haven’t visited in six years.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is returning for one more highly-anticipated seventh season and a trailer released on Wednesday has this galaxy buzzing with excitement.

It will of course release on Disney+, the streaming home of all Star Wars. Though in the past six months alone we got our first Star Wars live action TV series with The Mandalorian, the final film of the 40-year Skywalker Saga and a new video game with Fallen Order, fans are hungry for more.

There will be 12 episodes to bring an end to the iconic series with weekly releases starting on Feb. 21, a Friday.

Showrunner Dave Filoni returns to direct the new Clone Wars episodes, continuing the storylines introduced in the original series and exploring the events leading up to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

Featured heavily in the trailer are fan favourite characters from the series and Star Wars universe as a whole. Anakin Skywalker, Ashoka Tano, Captain Rex, Darth Maul, Yoda and others are back for what appears to be a wild ride to the end.

The series ran for six seasons between 2008 and 2014 but it was cancelled when Disney purchased Star Wars from George Lucas, ending the much-beloved show without giving Filoni and his team a chance to properly bring it to a conclusion.

But now the director who was behind Star Wars: Rebels and played a big part in The Mandalorian is back to give The Clone Wars what it has always needed: a proper finish. ■

Reporting by Eli Ridder;
Editing by Nicholas Seles.
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