‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf’ Review: A Worthy Addition to the Fantasy Franchise
The Witcher Season 2 doesn’t hit Netflix for another few months, but fans of the franchise can dive back into the Continent through The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf. The anime film debuts this August, and it offers plenty of monster-hunting and magic — plus, some much-needed insight into the setup of this world. Overall, the latest addition to The Witcher franchise is an entertaining romp through the show’s important historical events. Newcomers, casual viewers, and longtime fans will all find something to love about it.
‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf’ is a gorgeous, action-packed anime
Those looking for an anime with plenty of action and some gorgeous animation will find both in The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf.
Vesemir’s journey pits him against all sorts of monsters — and sometimes, even humans and elves. There are more than a few fight sequences to satisfy action seekers, and they include everything from swordplay to elemental magic. Combined with the movie’s steady pacing, it’s enough to keep viewers engaged throughout Nightmare of the Wolf‘s 83-minute run.
The animation itself is well done and adds a stunning backdrop to the events unfolding in the film. With it, Netflix delivers a visually satisfying experience on top of an engrossing story.
Casual fans of ‘The Witcher’ can learn a lot from this film
One of the best aspects of The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is that it takes a deep dive into the Continent’s history, giving viewers a play-by-play of events that impacted the live-action series. While dedicated fans of The Witcher games and books will likely have a background on Kaer Morhen and the Continent’s views of magic, casual fans of the Netflix show may not.
This film recounts the Continent’s history, offering insight into the world that Henry Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia operates in. It also outlines the backstory of his mentor, Vesemir, who will make an appearance in The Witcher Season 2. While the Vesemir fans meet in live-action will be older and more in tune with his powers, this younger take on the character serves to humanize him. In Geralt’s timeline, he’s become something of a legend. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf shows fans how he got there.
The film also demonstrates what the process of becoming a witcher looks like. That’s something Geralt speaks about in the live-action series, but it’s remained mostly up to the imagination until now. Likewise, it gives background on the history of mages like Anya Chalotra’s Yennefer, though it doesn’t lean too heavily into that storyline.
Finally, despite its historical relevance to The Witcher television series, Netflix’s anime film can easily stand on its own. That means it can serve as a gateway to the franchise as much as a supplement, setting it up for success with a wide audience.
Theo James steals the show as Vesemir
Although The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf offers several complex characters to follow, Vesemir undoubtedly steals the show. Of course, it’s his film, so that’s to be expected. However, Theo James nails the role, stepping easily into the witcher’s worn leather boots. Vesemir proves a very different kind of monster hunter than Geralt, and the confidence he exudes will ensnare fans instantly.
Lara Pulver’s Tetra Gilcrest is equally compelling, if more infuriating than Vesemir. The mage makes decisions most fans won’t agree with, but her motivations render it difficult to write her off entirely. Graham McTavish brings a similar nuance to Deglan’s character.
Finally, Mary McDonnell brings plenty of heart to her role as Lady Zerbst, who often serves as the voice of reason throughout Netflix’s anime film. In a cast of characters that can mostly be described as morally grey, Zerbst gives fans someone admirable to root for.
Would ‘The Witcher” Nightmare of the Wolf’ have worked better as a series?
The worst thing that can be said about The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is that it will leave fans wanting more from these characters. The anime film burns through a lot of important political developments relatively quickly, likely because it’s working with limited screen time.
Given how enjoyable following Vesemir’s character is, it would have been nice to slow down and see more of his journey. A deeper dive into Tetra’s story would benefit the overall franchise as well. While Nightmare of the Wolf‘s focus remains on the witchers, the mages in this world have proven themselves worthy of further exploration. Perhaps Netflix will capitalize on that with a spinoff.
This movie certainly leaves room for expansion, and the streamer may deliver on that if it proves a success. With so many positives, it’s hard to see it going in any other direction.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf arrives on Netflix on Aug. 23.