a Marvin quote goes here

So, lately more rumours have emerged as to the new Witcher movie slated for a 2017 release.

Rumours as to a movie and a hypothetical TV show, ‘based on themes’ (c) from the first short story collection.

And they kinda make me (and my good friend) go WTF.

In my case, it’s not even that much a question of cast – which I’m fairly sure I’m not going to be impressed with unless the creators pull a Tom Fontana and produce a handful of brilliant unknowns out of a magician’s hat. Come to think of it, I could do with Mark Ryder as Dandelion and Isolda Dychauk as Triss. But Geralt? I don’t see any big name capable of nailing the role. You need a Ray Park for the swordplay and a frellin’ Cumberbatch or at least a Balfour for the drama; and then there is the nagging question of ‘how do you even shoot a male lead who is supposed to be a ladies’ magnet all the while being basically as close to an albino as it gets’ – how will it read onscreen? That’s one tough technical issue to overcome.

image

I’m not even talking about the actual look – in the books and largely in-game as well, Geralt is all dramatic lines and sharp angles; while most male actors these days seem to have that rounded sort of look about their faces. And too much girth.

Oh yeah, and that hypothetical Perfect Possible Lead ™ should not pull a Keith Hamilton Cobb and flat out refuse to wear contacts (thus cheating the whole Andromeda show out of the Nietzscheans’ feline eyes): the fact that witchers have slit pupils is something you just can’t throw out of the window. It’s like the fact the elves have pointed ears. That’s how racists tell humans and non-humans apart.

And if you take racism out of the Witcher universe, you might just as well throw the whole of it out said window.

Which brings me to my biggest concern.

The writing.

I’m not in the least bit worried about the director – it’s that Polish guy who was involved in doing the cinematics for the CDPR games, and these were impeccable. But…

Thania St.John?!

Eureka?! Drop Dead Diva?! BUFFY?! Chicago frellin’ Fire?!

And I don’t care if there is a Balfour connection (Ms St John was also doing Veritas: the Quest, one of those one-season shows that Eric was in) – for all I know, I admire Eric as an actor, and maybe he could even pull off a Geralt if he were to study under Ray Park for a few years… but I don’t want to see a writer connected with those shows listed above (which are all not exactly the type I find especially exciting, to put it mildly; sorry to all the Buffy fans out there, but I have a right to have an opinion) doing anything involving any re-interpreting of pan Sapek’s ideas.

And given the ‘based on themes’ line – and ‘The Lesser Evil’ being specifically mentioned afterwards – I can’t help but feel we’re in for a major facepalm/headdesk dance here.

The Hexer – the original Polish TV series/movie – was exactly that. ‘Based on’.

Failing miserably.

You don’t have to ‘base’ a Perfect Possible Witcher Screenplay ™ on anything. You just need to follow the book and polish the dialogue for live action or move scenes around a bit (maybe). The Witcher stories and novels are perfectly cinematic, and I’m sorry but you need to be a real writer and not a random screenplay author to actually bring any extra value to them.

And ‘The Lesser Evil’ is a damn bad choice for a pilot. It’s bleak; it’s one-dimensional; and while it does introduce a few ideas, it does little outside that. The only thing that could sell it would be sex scenes with Renfri (not explicitly found in the text, mind you). // and here’s to hoping Renfri wouldn’t be given a glamorous makeover to increase ‘sex appeal’ or whatever… // Yeah, the original ‘Witcher’ story is also mentioned among the sources of the ‘themes’… but it’s pointless IMO to rehash it once again. The very first game had the key fight in its opening cinematic. The events framing the fight aren’t important enough to warrant screentime outside of a couple short flashbacks maybe.

If I were in charge (and I had no way to start with adapting the latest novel – Season of Storms – which to me is the best introduction to the universe, despite – or because of? – being the latest to come out), I’d rip into the central story of the first volume right away:

The Last Wish.

It’s fast-paced. It has drama, magic, social conflict, humour, and, well, sex. It establishes a lot of crucial themes: Dandelion in distress; the whole Geralt/Yen dynamic; Geralt being, well, Geralt in all his glory, misery, smarts and stupidity; a whole load of assorted prejudices…

Could be amazing out of the box.

But.

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7 thoughts on “a Marvin quote goes here

  1. Oh, yeah…I remember running across that TV series during one of my youtube wanderings. I think it was called Hexer in English.

    Agree about Mark Ryder’s resemblance to the supposed portraits of Cesare Borgia. He looked really good in a beard and long hair. I also liked the young Irish actor that played Alessandro Farnese.

    1. Yup, pan Sapkowski originally preferred ‘Hexer’ as the ‘official’ translation, but the series/movie were horrid, so he changed his mind later and went with CDPR’s ‘Witcher’ (because the games don’t do the books disservice – unlike the show).

      Oh yeah, he was good, too. But then again, the whole ‘younger’ cast performed much better than what could realistically be expected of actors their age.

  2. I just heard about this, and will keep on eye out for developments. I’m both intrigued and skeptical. I usually go into movie/TV adaptations of books with low expectations and am sometimes am pleasantly surprised by the results. This approach would probably work pretty well for game adaptations as well…

    Mark Ryder and Isolda Dychauk…a fan of the Borgia series?

    1. They aren’t doing a game adaptation. The games are ‘expanded universe’ already (the storylines are CDPR original, taking place several years after the saga ending).

      Either way, the ‘based on themes’ approach is simply a travesty. For any adaptation.

      Borgia’s the best thing to have happened to TV in years. That Turkish show “Magnificent century” started to drag out over the last couple of seasons, while Mr Fontana kept his show tight and knew when to wrap it up. And while I’m not exactly a history buff, too many anachronistic things stood out in the ‘Tudors’ show (starting with Rhys-Meyers haircut, ha); not the case with Borgia.
      And of course it’s nice to see a talented Russian-born actress like Isolda.

      1. Ah, well, I just figured the games and books shared enough similarities that “adaptation” would cover both. I keep forgetting the books came before the games — probably because I heard of the games first, when my son was playing them.

        If the overall story is entertaining, it might not be too bad, even if it’s not the Geralt or Witcher the fans would like to see. But still keeping expectations low, to be on the safe side.

        I stopped watching The Tudors around the time Katherine Howard started fooling around behind Henry’s back. I just didn’t like anybody in that series. Borgia has a better story and much more interesting characters, even if they’re not exactly likable all the time.

        I thought the series took a few episodes to find its footing, and for the actors to really get comfortable with their characters. The mish-mash of accents was a little strange, too, though I got used to that pretty quickly. I really enjoyed Mark Ryder’s performance, and once Isolda got a firmer hold on her character, after the first couple episodes, she became my favorite character in the series. I never warmed up to the American actor who played the Borgia pope. He wasn’t awful or anything, but he didn’t seem to quite fit in with the rest of the cast.

        Lovely young woman; I remember being amazed at how much she looked like that one portrait.

        1. after Poland, and I hope that the Polish director will have the chance to slap that writer on the wrist when she starts doing it the wrong way. And judging by her previous work, it’s most definitely ‘when’ and not ‘if’.

          I’ve always loved the Borgia family from the history books – but the fiction (books, movies, that other show) about them that came before this one never seemed to work. And yes, she looks a lot like the portrait; come to think of it, Mark Ryder isn’t that much off either. And he’s quite young, too, under thirty; I wasn’t sure he was going to be believable as an older Cesare, but he turned out to be marvellous.

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