Blood Origin: generic fantasy in (thankfully) four episodes

TL; DR: it's boring, but at least it's pretty short.

by Justin Choo

What makes The Witcher such a popular fantasy series?

It’s certainly not because it is the only fantasy epic with a carefully constructed universe and captivating lore–many other fantasy stories have those, too.

If you think about it, it’s all down to an epic Sigma male whose whoreson (and whoring) ways pale in comparison to his unusual sense of justice in a harsh, unforgiving world. It sticks out as much as his striking eyes and his silver mane. Pair him with an annoying bard and a bevvy of beautiful alpha sorceresses who want to get into his pants and you have a formula that everyone seems to buy into: a badass rogue who’s a softie at heart, complete with questionable taste in partners but would make a perfectly decent dad.

The live-action version features a picture-perfect casting of Henry Cavill, who not only looks the part of the misdirecting charmer, he scores brownie points as a lore nerd who shows reverence to the source material. What more could anyone want in an adaptation? Granted that they changed more than their fair share for the Netflix series, Cavill picks up the slack and charms the pants off everyone. What could go wrong?

Take that away and you’ll realise how much work you’ll need to make lore stories compelling. And Blood Origin has none of what makes Netflix’s The Witcher a flawed yet enthralling piece of work.

Balor’s (Lenny Henry) actions bookend the key events of Blood Origin.

It’s dour and boring, and does little to get you invested in its characters–no amount of personal loss could make me feel anything for them; they all feel so wooden, and the run-of-the-mill storyline isn’t helping either.

However, there are some little lore nuggets that fans might be interested in: we see Ithlinne, Eredin and Avallac’h in their early days; we’re also given some new backstory about the monoliths and the part they play in the Conjunction of the Spheres, as well as the first appearance of a being resembling a witcher–or at least the first recorded Trial of the Grasses.

These alter the known lore somewhat, but The Witcher franchise is unique in the sense that the wider world got their first taste via the video games, which differed slightly from the novels as well. I’m not sure how the fans would take to the new adaptations, but if I’m a betting man, I guess not.

Scian and Meldof (foreground) are the only ones in the group with actual personality.

If I’m honest, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with Blood Origin, it’s just there’s very little that the mini-series adds to the franchise that you can’t reveal via flashbacks in future seasons. Our merry band of troublemakers do little to endear themselves to the audience and their character development seems non-existent; somehow they get there but you won’t care enough to even think about it. Sorry. OK, maybe except Meldof (Francesca Mills); she gets it and she’s gloriously camp (for a dwarf).

The kindest thing I can say about Blood Origin is that you can count on Michelle Yeoh to do badass Michelle Yeoh things and there are only four episodes you have to deal with.

  • 5.5/10
    The Witcher: Blood Origin - 5.5/10

The Witcher: Blood Origin

What is The Witcher like without Henry Cavill’s eponymous character? Not much.

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