The Witcher: Blood Origin
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|The Witcher: Blood Origin|
|Based on||The Witcher|
by Andrzej Sapkowski
|Narrated by||Minnie Driver|
|Country of origin|
|No. of episodes||4|
|Running time||43–64 minutes|
|Original release||December 25, 2022|
The Witcher: Blood Origin is a fantasy miniseries created by Declan de Barra and Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and loosely adapted from The Witcher book series by Andrzej Sapkowski. It serves as a prequel to The Witcher. The series premiered on December 25, 2022 on Netflix, and consists of four episodes. It received largely negative reviews from critics and audiences, with criticism for its writing, story, characters, acting, and unfaithfulness to the lore, although the action sequences did receive some praise.
Set 1,200 years before the events of The Witcher television series, Blood Origin depicts the creation of the first Witcher, as well as the events leading to the "Conjunction of the Spheres". It also explores the ancient Elven civilization Xin'trea before its demise. Geralt of Rivia's bard ally Jaskier is saved from a war by the mysterious elf Seanchai where she has him write down the untold legend of seven warriors who went up against the forces of Xin'trea following its coup d'état.
Cast and characters
- Sophia Brown as Éile, a warrior of the Queen's guard and member of the Raven Clan who leaves to become a traveling musician
- Minee Mais as young Éile
- Laurence O'Fuarain as Fjall, an elf born into a clan of warriors called the Dog Clan sworn to protect a king, but instead sets out in need of vengeance after the Empress betrays his clan. To enable him to do so, he had to undergo a painful and life-threatening transformation that increased his strength, senses, agility, reflexes, healing and gaining poison resistance and immunity to most illnesses but rendering him sterile and emotionless therefore becoming "The First Witcher".
- Mirren Mack as Merwyn, the history-obsessed Princess of Xin'trea whose life is controlled by her brother King Alvatir, but who seeks to forge her own path
- Lenny Henry as Chief Druid Balor, a mage who has learned how to open gates to other worlds and has a plan of his own
- Jacob Collins-Levy as Eredin, the commander of the Xin'trean army, but with several secrets
- Joey Batey as Jaskier, a bard who once traveled with Geralt of Rivia and who is saved from likely death by the mysterious Seanchai
- Zach Wyatt as Syndril, the elfin mage who has discovered how to open gates between worlds
- Lizzie Annis as Zacaré, an elfin mage who is Syndril's celestial twin
- Huw Novelli as Callan "Brother Death", a retired sellsword who tracks down Éile, Fjall and Scían
- Francesca Mills as Meldof, a dwarf on a quest of revenge who wields a war hammer named after her late wife Gwen who was raped and killed by Xin'trean soldiers
- Amy Murray as Fenrik, Balor's druid apprentice who is deaf
- Minnie Driver as Seanchai, a mysterious figure who rescues Jaskier because she wants him to tell a tale about the "Conjunction of the Spheres"
- Michelle Yeoh as Scían, the last member of a nomadic tribe of sword-elves called the Ghost Clan who is on a mission to retrieve a blade stolen from her people
- Dylan Moran as Uthrok One-Nut, a sellsword colleague of Scían's
- Mark Rowley as Alvatir, the King of Xin'trea and brother of Merwynn who tried to unify the clans
- Hiftu Quasem as Voice of Light, an unknown being who Balor interacts with in another world.
- Ella Schrey-Yeats as Ithlinne, a young girl with powers of vision with whome Eile becomes friends
- Ozioma Whenu as Níamh, the sister of Eile
- Kim Adis as Ket, the servant of Merwynn
- Kerri Quinn as Aevenien, the mother of Ithlinne
- Karlina Grace-Paseda as Cethlenn, the chief of raven clan and the mother of Eile and Níamh
- Shanika Ocean as young Cethlenn
- Tomisin Ajani as Captain Olyf
- Samuel Blenkin as Avallac'h, a young mage who rescues Merwynn and becomes her protector
- Nathaniel Curtis as Brían, an elf marchand and Eredin's lover
- Aidan O'Callaghan as Kareg, the deceased brother of Fjall
- Zachary Hart as Leifur
- Hebe Beardsall as Catrin, a villager who leads the revolt
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Of Ballads, Brawlers, and Bloodied Blades"||Sarah O'Gorman|
|Declan de Barra||December 25, 2022|
|2||"Of Dreams, Defiance, and Desperate Deeds"||Vicky Jewson||Alex Meenehan and Aaron Stewart-Ahn||December 25, 2022|
|3||"Of Warriors, Wakes, and Wondrous Worlds"||Vicky Jewson|
|Tania Lotia and Kiersten Van Horne||December 25, 2022|
|4||"Of Mages, Malice, and Monstrous Mayhem"||Sarah O'Gorman||Declan de Barra & Tasha Huo||December 25, 2022|
It was announced in July 2020 that Netflix had greenlit a six-part miniseries prequel to their television series adaptation of the Andrzej Sapkowski novels. Declan de Barra was hired to serve as showrunner. In January 2021, Jodie Turner-Smith was cast to star in the series. Laurence O’Fuarain would join the cast in March, but by April, Turner-Smith had to exit due to scheduling conflicts. In July, Michelle Yeoh was added, with Sophia Brown taking over the role vacated by Turner-Smith.
Filming on the series began in August 2021 in the United Kingdom, with additional castings including Lenny Henry, Mirren Mack, Nathaniel Curtis and Dylan Moran announced. De Bara announced it had finished filming and went into post-production in November 2021.
The first trailer for the series was released on December 17, 2021. Another teaser trailer was released on November 10, 2022.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 31% of 35 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The website's consensus reads, "A shallow excavation of ancient lore from Andrzej Sapkowski's fantasy series, Blood Origin shares ancestral DNA with The Witcher but little of what makes the mothership series memorable." On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the series has received a score of 45 out of 100 based on 15 critic reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
David Griffin reviewing it for IGN praised it for special effects, action scenes, and the "engaging band of misfits" as protagonists, but noted that the story villains were not very interesting. Zosha Millman reviewing the series for Polygon criticized it for being mundane, writing that the show "has no time for consideration of what makes the Witcher universe unique or meaningful at all, leaving it as just a muddled, reckless attempt to get more Witcher stuff out the door". Andrew Webster writing for The Verge likewise argued that without the titular Witcher (Geralt of Rivia) or another memorable lead, the series lacks something special to make it stand on its own. Therese Lacson writing for the Collider criticized the series for its "slapdash storylines" and "half-baked" villains, and noted that too often the show "slips into either complete camp, cringe, or melodrama" . Darren Mooney reviewing the show for The Escapist called it a "bloody mess" and a "spectacular misfire", criticizing its characters as uninteresting, and "editorial tinkering" as clumsy and ineffective.  In Slant Magazine, Niv M. Sultan wrote that "the series proves too hurried and scattered to penetrate much beyond the surface of its universe and characters." Vicky Jessop in the London Evening Standard said that "it's hard to feel invested in the fate of the characters". David Opie writing for Digital Spy likewise criticized the cast, noting that "Most of these characters, and therefore Blood Origin itself, remain frustratingly limited".
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