Star Rating:

The Witcher: Blood Origin 16+

Streaming On: Watch The Witcher: Blood Origin on Netflix

Season: 1

Episode: 4

Actors: Michelle Yeoh, Laurence O'Fuarain, Lenny Henry

Release Date: Sunday 25th December 2022

Genre(s): Action, Fantasy, Horror

Running time: 300 minutes

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Netflix 's adaptation of ' The Witcher ' has been somewhat muddled, to say the least. If rumours are to be believed, its liberal reimagining of certain elements of the source material was one of the deciding factors in Henry Cavill's exit from the series . In 'The Witcher: Blood Origin' however, you can see there's a certain amount of freedom involved which allows for showrunner Declan de Barra to write his own story, only requiring a certain amount of allegiance to the source material that inspired it.

'The Witcher: Blood Origin' takes a lot of notes conceptually from another franchise off-shoot - namely ' Rogue One '. Essentially, you have a band of misfits setting off on a task that we don't necessarily want or need them to come back from alive. The story is self-contained, and with four episodes in total lined up, it's not hanging around or spinning the wheels. Yet, the problems with 'Blood Origin' aren't necessarily in its pacing, but rather in its execution.

'Blood Origin' careens wildly in tone, going from campy fun to gory tragedy, never settling on one long enough to grasp it properly. There's a strong sense of pacing, and with four episodes, it runs through its story at a clip. However, this speed probably has more to do with not letting things sit long enough for anyone to notice the somewhat clunky sets or chintzy production design.

The script, by de Barra, has a lot of wooden dialogue to try and chew through before it gets to the sharp, if unimaginative, action sequences. While the ideas and themes are intriguing - an empire setting out to "civilise" new worlds, revolution against royal bloodlines, becoming monsters to fight them - there just isn't enough clarity to let them shine through. More than that, the characters themselves lack the singular qualities that caught people's attention in 'The Witcher'. Instead, you're seeing pieces and fragments of it rather than something whole and complete.

Laurence O'Fuarain and Sophia Brown both share good chemistry together, but leans so heavily on formula to make it work. Beyond that, however, the cast feels underutilised or miscast. Lenny Henry, in particular, is completely at sea as the villainous Balor, while Michelle Yeoh gives a disinterested performance as Scian. Dylan Moran only shows up for a couple of scenes and while he lightens the mood, it almost feels like he's actively taking the piss out of it all. On the other hand, Francesca Mills plays wonderfully against expectations as the hammer-wielding Meldorf.

As much as 'Blood Origin' shares common DNA with 'The Witcher' and the infusion of new sensibilities from de Barra, it clots together rather than blending cohesively.