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« Great Moments in Horror Actressing | Main | Marvel Studios: The Next Three Years »
Monday
Jul222019

Yes, No, Maybe So: Two new fantasies "His Dark Materials" and "The Witcher"

by new contributor Maggy Torres-Rodriguez

A few days ago, the earth went a little quieter as nerds all around the world paused their latest video game obsession to turn their attention over to the new Netflix trailer for The Witcher. The Polish novel series-turned-video-game-turned-Netflix show has raised all kinds of inquisitive eyebrows, especially at the notion of Henry Cavill taking on the role of Geralt de Rivia.  But HELLO, we welcome it. 

The Witcher brings forth all kinds of magic and lore and monsters, from wraiths to vampires to elves, in this deeply sophisticated world where beasts and humans are trying (or not trying) to coexist. And as per ugee, the most beastly monsters of all tend to be human...

 

YES

  • To Henry Cavill as Geralt de Rivia. Fans of the book say he is too clean and refined to be Geralt, a traditionally rigid, cold, and brooding character. WE HAVE TO DISAGREE. Cavill himself was familiar with the material because he’s been a huge fan of the novels and video games, which is always a plus for passion and delivery.

  • Being a series of novels from the 80s, there is so much material to pull from. Netflix execs don’t have to worry about a Game of Thrones “Where the hell do we go from here” situation… as long as they stick to the script.

  • Relative Newbies: Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan! Yes! Love seeing fresh female faces coming into genre territory. While we love you Natalie Portman, we need to start seeing other people.

  • Can we talk about that production design? Everyone is raving about how the costuming and set design are gorgeous and on point. So happy to see Netflix appealing to the expectations of the fans and not cutting corners when it comes to authenticity.

NO


  • “So that’s all life is to you, monsters and money?” “It’s all it needs to be.” - Henry Cavill in a bad wig. But we see you biceps.

  • Since the series is so heavy on the lore, we are just aching to see action, magic,  monsters, and humans being gutted. It’s why we are here. Please don’t be a season of a 5-episode backstory leading up to a lukewarm penultimate episode with one monster, and a flaccid cliffhanger of “There will be more monsters” for season 2. I can’t take another series being butchered by the hands of tonal schizophrenia, incoherent storylines, and horrendous pacing. Looking at you Stranger Things 3.

 

MAYBE SO


  • Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich has been on a number of genre shows (Daredevil, The Defenders, The Umbrella Academy)... all of which were iffy at best in regards to storytelling. The Witcher is a huge project to take on but we’re pulling for you Lauren! 

  • There are such iconic elements in the novels and video games that fans consider must-haves. Here’s to hoping that Netflix can put a spin on the existing story and characters and improve instead of disappoint!

  • On the timing. Could the layperson think this is just a Game of Thrones ripoff and choose not to watch, or did that last season of GoT leave fantasy-lovers with the lust for more?

But that's not all in terms of long-form fantasy storytelling.

We've also got an adaptation of His Dark Materials coming from HBO. Let’s take a moment of silence for that dumpster fire that was the 2007 film of The Golden Compass. The collective consensus leaving the theater was “… but what was it about?” Yes, the botched finished product of The Golden Compass was due to behind-the-scenes drama, but we forgive those transgressions because it was a lot of material to cram into a cohesive 2 hour film. Let’s hope that HBO can pace itself and let that lush and dynamic world really breathe this time around.

YES


  • HBO has the grit (and that GoT $$$) to produce this heavy fantasy the way it deserves to be told. The story involves the mutilation of children, the systemic corruption in the  church and state, and overall hazy morality of scientific progression. We need it all. It’s about to get Handmaid’s Tale kinda dark in here. Or at least, it should.

  • To this cast. Yes, that's little badass Dafne Keen, best known from the movie Logan. Also, yes to diversity and triple yes to Lin-Manuel Miranda. Biggest YES to Ruth Wilson and her eyebrows. You are welcomed here.

  • Love love loved that set design and production q u a l i t y. The animals in the film look pretty decent, and seeing as how they play such an important role in the original story, here’s to hoping the CGI will never be a distraction.

 

NO


  • “The Nohth is no place for a child.” How many times did they have to say “Nohth?”  We get it, HBO. The North is a mysterious and dangerous place. Next.

  • If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know that the animals are the crux of this series. Their importance fell a little to the wayside in this trailer. It just looks like all the characters have quirky pets or someone simply left a latch open at the zoo. 

  • James McAvoy as Lord Asriel. I feel blasé about it. What do you think? Who would be better for the role? Daniel Craig tried it already; keep brainstorming.

 

MAYBE SO

  • The novels get pretty biblical when it comes to coming-of-age metaphors, and religious interference in the progression of self discovery. I’m kinda down for the big political statement this story has the power to make. It’s timely, and necessary.

  • I get that talking animals can be off-putting to adult audiences, but would like to have seen some of that in here. If they decided to remove that ability from the animals, the series will be a widely divergent from the original material -- which can be a sharp left turn away from success.

Are you a fan of the fantasy genre? And what's your verdict on these two new series... at least in trailer form?

 

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Reader Comments (10)

I don't LOVE the Witcher, though my knowledge is based solely on the video games. It's a lot of lore-heavy, relentlessly heterosexual, ponderous stuff. I hope the series streamlines that stuff and has more of a focus on the fun- the magic and the monsters (though it's weird we see only one monster in this trailer).

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

His Dark Materials is a great series of books, and could be a terrific HBO show, if they get the casting right and can cope with special effects. Too much CGI wrecked the film. James McAvoy is a yes for me.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I've read all three His Dark Materials books and I honestly can't remember if the animals speak out loud or if there is a telepathic connection between the human and the animals, so I suppose if they keep the communication in the show, it doesn't matter to me if they speak out loud or not.

My favorite part of the books was the growing creepiness of the Magisterium and the fact that it was always hard to know who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Hopefully they willl keep all of that and ramp it up.

I am about the only person I know who didn't hate The Golden Compass. Most people I know hated the ending of it, but I was okay with it because I knew what was missing. Nicole & Daniel Craig were pretty spot on casting. Is this the B crew? Hopefully better than that. A minus at least?

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

i'm not a fan of cavill so i'm not entirely too sold on the witcher. but i am very excited for hdm. they've cast voice actors for the animals so they're definitely going to have them talk. and as for the lack of them in the trails i'm guessing it's just because they're still making sure they have all the cgi perfect. obviously they're going to try and hype it up as possible, but i'm encouraged by interviews i've seen from producers who clearly care very much about the material and want to get it as right as possible. everything i've seen looks great so far so i hope they really nail it.

mcavoy isn't what i have in mind for asriel, he's basically the polar opposite physically, but he can make it work acting-wise i think so i don't mind too much. ruth and dafne are perfect. lin, love him but iffy on that casting choice for that character but maybe they'll go a different route with him so i'll reserve judgment.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Psyched for both - happy with Mcavoy but first choice would have been Jude Law. Kidman wa perfect as Coulter

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

"The Witcher" looks interesting but " His Dark Material" looks as dopey as the movie- which at least had the gorgeous Kiddman as the villain. The film failed for me because the girl playing the lead was annoying and dull and those bears looked preposterous but hey it might work as mini-series

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I couldn't even watch either trailer to the end. This kind of fantasy is really not my bag. I tried but THE WITCHER looked incomprehensible to me. So many bad wigs.

And HIS DARK MATERIALS felt too soon after THE GOLDEN COMPASS which I didn't dislike as much as everybody else. Hey, it had Nicole Kidman and a Kate Bush song - so there were compensations! So this trailer felt over-familiar, overlong at 3 minutes and unnecessary.

But I get that these are book series with big followings and potential for long series. If they turn out to be good I might give them a try.

July 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

I liked The Golden Compass fine, until the cowardly ending. Beautiful effects, and Kidman and Green were so well cast. I'm higher on McAvoy in this than I am on Wilson, but that's partially because Kidman was close to perfect and will be hard to live up to. Regardless, I'm looking forward to this. Excellent book series.

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

I didn't hate Golden Compass, either, but it also didn't linger long in my memory. I remember thinking it was an adequate but not inspired adaptation.

I'm a cautious "yes" on this rendition. Even though Nicole Kidman was about as perfect casting as you can get for Ann Coulter, I'm all in for Ruth Wilson - after watching her suffer & suffer through "The Affair" I'm more than ready to see her play a ruthless power-seeker. (She's quite entertaining as a sociopath in the show "Luther.")

And I like James McAvoy for Asriel, though I always envisioned someone like Jeremy Irons (when he was younger). Not sold on Lin-Manuel.

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLynn Lee

lol @ the the dig on Portman. haters gonna hate! besides the witcher of all things is tge last thing she’d do


I’m a yes to both of these, I’ll give them both a shot but have reservations so won’t promise to stick around for more (Cavil is the blandest leading actor hollywood has thrown at us in a long time, the reviews for dark materials when this aired across the pond were not enthusiastic, now were they?).


Regardless, you are nuts. McAvoy is always in the YES column.

July 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

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