This gives ammo for the nobleborn witch Tetra (Lara Pulver) to divulge her suspicions of the Witchers to her royal court, citing the scruples and cons of Witchers. She’s especially skeptical of the king’s advisor Lady Zerst (a buoyant Mary McDonnell), a commoner married into nobility, who stands to prevent a war between Witchers and the kingdom.
For Vesemir, being a Witcher was all choice for him despite his peers often getting snagged into the vocation against their will, be it parental abandonment and sometimes through the Law of Surprise. Whether a poor chap is snagged by cruel fate is irrelevant to him. Vesemir’s interest in the profession began with observing Deglan (Graham McTavish), an elder Witcher, methodically exorcise a demon creature from a noble lady’s body and earn a hefty sack of gold. Sick of changing bedpans for nobles, Vesemir fled his life of servitude for the Witcher base of Kaer Morhen where his body and mind undergo grueling trials to give him the expertise and physicality of a Witcher. But while sprouting into a star Witcher, Vesemir rejects Deglan’s call to teach the next monster-slaying generation. Eventually, Vesemir is whisked into investigating a beast-related mystery regarding a lechen that speaks elvish tongue.
Indecisive smatterings of flashbacks, intended to drop clues and foreshadowing just as much as flesh out Vesemir, fracture the pacing. As The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf submerges, abruptly, into Vesemir’s childhood, its young adult nature is at odds with the more adult feel of the present timeline. It’s not until a third through the movie that the plot incentivizes momentum.
Credit is due to the watchful artistic eye of director Kwang Il Han, who deploys Studio Mir talents in fights sequences. Witcher and non-Witcher viewers alike can appreciate the embellishments achievable in the grace of animation to the swishing of Brian D’Oliveira’s scoring. The dramatic highlight is a transformation process that illuminates Vesemir’s rebirth into a new man, paired with a letter reading of a childhood sweetheart saying farewell, mingling melancholy and pining with physical agony. Select sequences could spotlight choreography alone, such as a witch’s balletic dance to shroud a landscape and a climactic combat that punctuates an ensuing tragedy with a rude awakening. It also doesn’t slouch on macabre bestial designs.
Other internal qualities are not as realized or the worldbuilding, while present, lacks breathing space to inspire any intense feelings, be it revulsion or pity or both, for the morals and motives of its side characters. While well voiced by Dota star Pulver, Tetra is vaguely rendered to full potential, an excuse for a final boss rather than operating as a morally complicated force as the script promises for her. In another example, Filandrevel, the exiled elf king encountered by Geralt in The Witcher and reprised by Tom Canton, amounts to little impact.
He operates as a momentary foil to Vesemir—possibly a red herring to a mystery—but barely scratches a dent in the plot when they cross paths again. Whereas his appearance of a hidden elven race oppressed by human colonists, could add breadth to the world as it did with his debut in the series, he and the backdrop of elven genocide feel emotionally remote from Vesemir’s arc or a lived-in feel for world-building.
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