Tag Archives: netflix

A Set Injury Might Mean Major Delays for Cowboy Bebop

Image: Sunrise

John Cho, oh no! The star of the upcoming Netflix live-action version of Cowboy Bebop has had an on-set mishap, and it could mean that the series is a lot later than we thought it would be.

As reported by Variety, Cho, while filming a scene in New Zealand, sustained a serious knee injury. Due to the severity of the injury, and Netflix’s unwillingness to recast his role, Cowboy Bebop’s production has been halted for his recovery, which reportedly could mean seven to nine months of delays.


It’s not clear what happened precisely to cause the injury, but it was, according to a source, not a big stunt that would have been a likely villain for such a mishap. These things happen, though. One time I hurt my knee walking into the kitchen to get pasta. Couldn’t walk for two weeks. Had a bad time.

Anyway, Cho himself seems to be in good humor about the situation, posting a Bruce Lee quote on his Instagram: “Water can flow or it can crash.” And crash indeed it did. Also props to Netflix for sticking with Cho, who is a compelling choice for Spike Spiegel, the coolest bounty hunter alive.


Cowboy Bebop will resume production sometime next year. 

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Source: Kotaku.com

Lost in Space Has Found a Second Season in the Stars, Here’s the Teaser Trailer

When we’re lost in space, we strut.
Image: Netflix
Trailer FrenzyA special place to find the newest trailers for movies and TV shows you’re craving.  

“I won’t leave without him.” Danger, danger, Will Robinson—you’ve got a friend to save.

Netflix’s Lost in Space is returning for a second season, and this time all eyes are on the Robinson family’s most iconic member, Robot. As the season begins, the Robinsons are stranded in even more dire circumstances than before, and Robot is gone, leaving it up to young Will (Maxwell Jenkins) to spearhead a search for his alien friend, who might be their only ticket home.

The first season of this show, based on the classic Irwin Allen-created series from the ‘60s, was beguiling and full of potential. The new season, based on this brief teaser, seems suitably compelling as a followup; grand vistas and deepening cosmic mysteries greet our spacefaring family. The Robinsons and their crew will be joined by JJ Feild (The Romanoffs), who will take on the guest role of Ben Adler, an academic contemporary of Maureen Robinson’s who serves as chief of advanced systems and artificial intelligence. So, just the kind of resource that might be useful for finding Robot.


As announced today at Lost in Space’s panel at New York Comic Con, the show will have 10 hour-long episodes, and will premiere December 24th on Netflix.

For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.


Source: Kotaku.com

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Is the Groundbreaking Fantasy Epic We’ve Been Waiting For

From left: Hup (Victor Yerrid), Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Rian (Taron Egerton) in a scene from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Photo: Kevin Baker (Netflix)

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance may be perfect nostalgia…because it never acts nostalgic. It’s a gripping fantasy that expands Jim Henson’s iconic world, challenging viewers of all ages with complex themes, horrifying imagery, and an environmental message we may need now more than ever. Also, it’s a technological masterpiece.

Netflix’s Age of Resistance takes place “many years” before the events of the 1982 film (the teaser trailer description on Netflix says 50 years, though that’s unconfirmed). The Gelfling are spread throughout Thra as seven distinct clans under a shared matriarchal rule. However, they’re subservient to the Skeksis—a mysterious and seemingly immortal race that Mother Aughra had tasked with protecting the Crystal of Truth, the heart of their world. But the Skeksis have a dark and terrible secret: They’re not protecting the crystal, they’re stealing from it.

For those who’ve seen the film or read the expanded lore, this will all sound familiar. Age of Resistance acts as a natural filler for elements of the saga we’ve already been told, with some changes. But you don’t need to have seen or read this stuff for the show to make sense. It’s totally fine (maybe even better) to come into Age of Resistance fresh, as the show does a good job of filling in the blanks. There’s one scene in particular of two characters doing an expository puppet show, which was not only gorgeous but felt like a great inside joke, that will give newbies everything they need to feel caught up. (If you want more context, I wrote an explainer.)

The original Dark Crystal was an achievement in the art form of puppetry. Age of Resistance not only continues that legacy, it builds on it. Every scene is teeming with life, from the smallest critters in the corners of the screen to the large, imposing monsters and machines. The characters aren’t just puppets, they’re living beings. Their ears twitch, their lungs expand, their bodies move and sway with the breeze. There are digital effects, including parts of action sequences, scenic vistas, and some puppeteers who’ve been removed in post, but they never feel like they’re taking away from the practical magic.

The voice acting is also pretty stellar. There’s a huge, very famous cast in Age of Resistance, and all of them have earned their place. Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel as the sweet and earnest Deet was my favorite of the protagonists, and I adored her Podling paladin pal Hup (voiced by puppeteer Victor Yerrid). Some of the actors you’ll recognize right away in their roles, but others were a shock to me—mainly the folks voicing the Skeksis. I was amazed by Awkwafina’s SkekLach and Simon Pegg’s Chamberlain (a dead ringer for Barry Dennen from the original). Mark Hamill was basically Skeksis Joker, and it worked fine, but Jason Isaacs as the Emperor was, simply put, imposing.

The only complaint I have is sometimes the character voices didn’t match the mouth movements. The puppeteers filmed the series before the actors lent their voices and some actors clearly had a harder time than others doing the dubbing work. It’s the downside of not having the puppeteers doing all the voices too, and it’s something you just have to get used to. That said, I’m glad the series credits the puppeteers alongside the voice actors, as it was an equal effort bringing these characters to life.

The Emperor (Jason Isaacs) consults with his fellow Skeksis.
Photo: John Wilson (Netflix)

The season centers around the Gelfling uncovering the truth about who the Skeksis are and what they’ve done (which I won’t spoil). Much like Stranger Things 3, the show starts by giving each of our three protagonists pieces of a much larger puzzle that will eventually bring them together. But here, things unfold more naturally. You’re not yelling at the screen for these characters to pick up the phone already. The season is extremely well-paced, with each episode serving an important function. It also makes sense that it takes a while for our heroes to come together, because the Skeksis have cultivated mistrust among the Gelfling, keeping them at odds with each other to hold their power.

The plot might sound like a simple hero’s tale, but it’s much more complicated than that. Age of Resistance deals with some really challenging stuff and isn’t afraid to ask tough questions of its characters and audience. Topics like corruption, greed, class conflict, enablement, and turning a blind eye to atrocities as long as you’re not personally affected. This last one is especially impactful, as it has a long history in the United States and still happens today.

Then, there’s climate change denial—you didn’t expect to get through a Jim Henson production without an environmental message, did you? The show’s underlying threat involves the Darkening, a mysterious blight spreading throughout the land because the crystal is out of balance. Without revealing too much, let’s say the Skeksis have a vested interest in sowing doubt about this very real problem, and the parallels to our own rising doom are palpable and clever. I’m sure it could turn off some parents, but let’s be honest: Some of them probably weren’t going to let their kids watch this anyway.

That’s because Age of Resistance does not hold back on the scary stuff. Those parts that made the original movie so horrifying for a generation of children, many of whom now have their own kids, are back…and there’s more of them. After all, we’ve got 10 episodes to fill now. Most of the actual gore is kept offscreen, save for a few blood splatters, but it’s made clear every time something fucked-up is happening. Characters are maimed, tortured, even killed. That thing you might remember the Skeksis doing to Podlings and Gelfling, yeah, there’s even more of it. There is no shortage of death and tragedy here—along with the grim reality of what’s to come in the future.

That doesn’t mean this show isn’t for children. On the contrary, I’d argue Age of Resistance is just as much of a family-friendly experience as The Dark Crystal was (Common Sense Media recommends Dark Crystal for kids ages 7 and older). Sure it’s dark, but it’s healthy to introduce complex stories like this to children, just as they were introduced to us when we were growing up. Children are tougher and smarter than we sometimes give them credit for and this is a show that’s meant to be discussed among families, not sheltered from them. Plus, the moments of darkness and pain makes the moments of love, silliness, and beauty all the brighter. There are many bright spots to be found on this show.

Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy) examines a symbol in her books.
Photo: Kevin Baker (Netflix)

I did not think I would fall in love with The Dark Crystal. It wasn’t something I grew up with. I only saw it for the first time this year, and I never expected the world of The Dark Crystal to become part of my own world. But it has, and so has this show.

Age of Resistance is a treasure, one that starts strong and grows even stronger. The season has what feels like an end, so if Netflix and the Jim Henson Company don’t produce another series, it doesn’t feel incomplete. But I do hope it continues. This is a story unfolding like a book, each episode bringing me further into a beautiful and thoughtful place where talent can be seen, stories can be appreciated, and legends are born.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance debuts on Netflix August 30.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Until 2012 You Could Watch Netflix On A PS2 In Brazil

Netflix on consoles was a much different experience a decade ago. Today users just download an app, login and start watching some TV or movies. But back in 2009, depending on your console, you might have to order a disc from Netflix and link your account to their service to watch whatever was on Netflix in 2009. Amazingly, even some PS2 owners could get these discs.

Stop Skeletons From Fighting released a video recently that covers the entire history of Netflix on consoles, from the first Xbox app all the way to the Wii and PS3 discs and beyond.

If you had a PS3 back in 2010 and watched Netflix on it, you might remember those streaming discs. These were required on Wii and PS3 to watch Netflix due to an exclusivity agreement Netflix had with Microsoft and the Xbox 360. The deal was only the Xbox 360 could have instant app streaming. So the disc allowed Sony and Netflix to sidestep this agreement.

But something really interesting that is quickly mentioned in the video is that for a short period of time PS2 owners in Brazil could actually boot up Netflix on their PS2 consoles. This service also required a disc plus a memory card.

Netflix support for the PS2 was officially ended in 2012, which angered a user on the Gamespot forums. However, Googling the subject, it seems some folks were able to circumvent this and keep watching House Of Cards and BoJack Horseman long after official support was pulled.

The full video from Stop Skeletons From Fighting is an entertaining look back at the short period of time when Netflix was still growing into what they are today and was using consoles and exclusivity deals to help build their massive audience.

Source: Kotaku.com

The New Dark Crystal Trailer Is Somehow Even More Gorgeous Than the Last

Good lord, what a shot.
GIF: Netflix
Trailer FrenzyA special place to find the newest trailers for movies and TV shows you’re craving.  

But even though darkness looms over Thra’s beautiful environs, a resistance rises.

Netflix just dropped an incredible new look at the upcoming The Dark Crystal prequel series, Age of Resistance. It’s the first time we’ve really got to hear a good chunk of the extensive and equally impressive vocal cast in action, but it’s also a reminder that holy mother of Thra, this show looks gorgeous.

Yes, there’s all the good stuff you’d expect out of a fantasy adventure—foreboding portents, evil machinations, heroes uniting on an epic quest to resist the evil threatening the land, and so on and so forth. But it’s not just the fantasy that’s epic here, it’s the remarkable sense of scale Age of Resistance has as a production. The puppets, the sets, the CG used to amp those impressive practical elements up a notch even further…it’s honestly still remarkable just how good this all looks. We can’t wait to see it all in action.

And we don’t have to wait much longer—The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance hits Netflix August 30.

For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.

Source: Kotaku.com

Noelle Stevenson on She-Ra’s Shocking Twist, Shorter Seasons, and What’s Next in Etheria

She-Ra rises. All images: Netflix
Image: Netflix

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power returned packing a short but powerful punch. The six-episode season felt like a long movie, telling an epic story that raised the stakes in a big way—for both our heroes and villains. So, what does it all mean, and what’s next? We asked showrunner Noelle Stevenson to weigh in.

In our condensed, spoiler-filled interview, Stevenson shares her thoughts on Catra as a dual protagonist, the martyr complex in Chosen One narratives, and her recommended way to watch season three. She also told us her reasons behind making the portal do “that,” and the big shocker of the season. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive in.

io9: Season three didn’t really have any standalone episodes like season two did. It was one long thread. Did you envision this more as a movie, or as something else? What was your process?

Noelle Stevenson: When we were first breaking down this season, we intended it to be one season along with season two. So it was first broken down as a drop of 13 episodes. We found out there were plans to break up the season, so we could bring them to viewers on Netflix more often. It exists as “Season 2.5.”

[She-Ra] sort of starts out more episodic, more fun and games, and then it gets more serialized toward the end of the season. This next episode chunk is just the serialized parts of the end of that 13-episode chunk.

io9: Do you feel it was the right choice to break it up, or would you have rather kept seasons two and three together?

Stevenson: We’re sort of reinventing how we bring cartoons to audiences, now that they’re being streamed on these streaming services. One of the potential issues [of streaming] is that you drop all the episodes and then it’s done, and everyone kind of binges it. You’re absorbing a lot of information really quickly. The idea of breaking up the season—so it does give people time to theorize and come up with ideas of what’s gonna happen next, instead of getting those answers right away—it’s definitely kind of one way of dealing with that potential issue.

In this case, I think we probably would’ve broken the season a little differently in hindsight. But I would recommend viewers watch seasons two and three together as one long runner. It should be like a really fun watch, with the threads that carry over those 13 episodes.

io9: Adora struggles a lot with identity and choice this season, as she learns she’s actually a First One who was brought to Etheria through a portal. How would you describe her journey so far?

Stevenson: Adora occupies this sort of classic hero’s journey archetype of the Chosen One. When she was being raised in the Horde, as part of this army, a child soldier, she was still being raised as this chosen one. She thought that her destiny was very clear cut, very predictable. She knew was she was supposed to be and she believes in that very strongly. When she ventured outside of her experience, she stumbled into a different chosen one destiny, with She-Ra.

I think that she’s really struggling with that. She really really wants to be the best She-Ra she can possibly be, but she doesn’t want to make the same mistakes she did last time—when she thought she was in the right, when she was really in the wrong.

io9: We also see Mara, who explains to Adora why she separated Etheria from the universe. Can we expect to learn about more She-Ras in the future? And will they be different ethnicities or gender identities?

Stevenson: I will say that we focus a lot on the relationship between Adora and Mara, those are the main She-Ras we discuss. Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come.

io9: This season paid off Catra’s struggles in a big way. She tried out life by herself in the Crimson Waste but was pulled back in by her need for validation, and she chose to activate the portal rather than let Adora be right once again. Was this always where she was leading, or did her journey evolve through the storytelling? 

Stevenson: When I pictured the series, I pitched a complete story arc with the characters, like major beats already kind of nailed down. But within that, I think our approach to the characters—we’ve set up the major plot points, and then we see how the characters react to them. That’s how I personally write. It helps to know what story you’re telling and where you’re going and generally what ending you have in mind. Once you have that set out, you look to see how your characters behave, and I think there are some surprises along the way.

For Shadow Weaver, all the plans I had for her, she’s bucked basically all of them. And I think Catra is someone, she’s one of them too. I see her as almost a dual protagonist to Adora. While Adora is on this path of becoming a hero, Catra’s on a darker mirror path of that. I think Catra has really surprised me in a lot of ways too. A lot of that comes from the voice acting, the writing, and the board artists. I’m really excited for her arc coming up. There’s a lot still in store.

This isn’t something we see every day.
Image: Netflix

io9: Out of all the things I expected the portal to do, a “What If?” episode—bringing Adora to a reality where she’d never left the Horde— was not among them. What made you decide to take this route? 

Stevenson: [laughs] I think that it was something, it felt like we should do. Especially with what Adora and Catra are struggling with this season. We’ve gotten so far from where we were in this pilot episode—them in this much more childish way, a lot more carefree. I think both of them are sort of, they’ve gotten so far from it, but they’re still so hung up on it…Catra is turning into a person that I don’t think she ever expected to be, and someone she doesn’t even think she’d recognize.

They both have reasons to go back to the beginning. Where Catra wants to hide from everything she’s done, and Adora’s going, “How can I go back and fix it?” Throwing them back and asking those questions again: Who were you then, who are you now? It was something I wanted to do, something that was unexpected

The portal was such a great opportunity to try something really weird and different, also while asking questions about our characters and delving a bit more into their interiority and how they’re processing what’s happening.

io9: Even though Adora’s storyline is about choice, in the end, the final choice—to close the portal and sacrifice herself—is taken away from her by Glimmer’s mother, Angela. What was the reason behind having Angela sacrifice herself instead?

Stevenson: Adora is this person with kind of a martyr complex. She’s always worried she’s not doing it right. I think what we wanted to say was the answer is not that simple. It might be really hard to figure out the right thing to do—you might hurt people, even when you have good intentions.

Adora, she’s got a lot of story left to tell. She has to use her power as She-Ra to try and help people. It’s not enough [to say], “Okay, if I just throw myself on this sword, then I can fix everything and then I’ll be this martyr and everyone will be proud of me. I’ll have done it right this time.” It’s more complicated than that for her. She has to stick around because they need her. Angela knew that and trusted Adora—and trusted Glimmer to run things after she’s gone. It’s not something that she can hide from.

io9: The season included the shocking revelation that Hordak, our supposed Big Bad, is a clone of a much-greater enemy—one whose eye is now pointed squarely at Etheria. Is Horde Prime’s arrival going to unite our heroes and villains, or will it further drive them apart?

Stevenson: I think that we throw a lot of really big status quo out the window. Not only is Angela gone, which is obviously going to have huge implications for Glimmer and for the whole rebellion and the Horde, but we’ve only been focused on Etheria so far. There haven’t been any other planets or intergalactic visitors. There is this much, much bigger conflict going on outside this hidden empty dimension that they’re in.

There is so much ground still to cover with what that actually means. That’s going to be what the next season about. We want to push our characters out of their comfort zone…I can’t go much deeper than that. But what I can say is the way that all of this plays out is so epic. The characters’ relationships are going to change, their relationshIp to the world is going to change, and we’re going to see so much more in the future.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is currently available to stream on Netflix.

For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Didn’t Think The Surge Was For Me Until I Saw It In A Netflix Show

Screenshot: xCaustic (Imgur )
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

I had no intention of ever playing The Surge. It looked boring, overly familiar, and mostly desolate, like a dozen other third-person action games by studios I’d never really heard of in which some dude, always some dude, is on a mission to wreck shit up because that’s what’s supposed to make for a cool video game. That all changed when I saw the game appear in Netflix’s Dark.

Dark is a sci-fi thriller about time travel, fate, and the small wounds people inflict on one another over the course of their lives. I had no idea it existed until someone told me it was basically German Stranger Things but better. The show’s brooding atmosphere and intimate character portraits won me over immediately. Then, in episode five, two of the show’s main characters, Jonas Kahnwald and Bartosz Tiedemann, sat down to play The Surge. The game’s grim world and grizzly enemy dismemberments played against the two characters’ own fracturing relationship, one which only grows more fraught and tragic in later episodes.

Long after I’d finished with the show’s first season, the desire remained to go back to Dark’s small German town of Winden or somehow re-experience the fatalistic mood pervasive throughout it. That desire brought me back to The Surge, which I started to realize had much less in common with the hackneyed art on its box cover and much more in common with the Dark Souls games, reflected through the distinctly German lense of Deck13, the Frankfurt-based studio who created it.

Screenshot: Dark (Netflix)

While I loved the aesthetic, though, The Surge is still full of turnoffs. Its snaking levels are hard to parse and sometimes even harder to navigate given the game’s finicky geometry. Like Dark Souls, enemies require you to methodically learn their attack sequences to uncover their vulnerabilities, and even then, progress can be slow, requiring grinding for upgrades and better equipment before moving to the next area.

But its underlying story had me gripped: A blue-collar worker is mutilated by an exoskeleton experiment gone wrong and discarded into a dystopian trash heap. The weird connection I’d forged with the game thanks to its unexpected but surprisingly thoughtful implementation in Dark helped push me forward.

Playing The Surge has been like fighting through a long, difficult, and at times antagonistic book. If I’d only randomly picked it up to try, I would have abandoned it long ago. Instead I’ve persisted, and occasionally, that persistence has been rewarded with beautiful levels and surprising boss fights. The Surge 2 will be out this fall. Maybe it’ll even appear in the next season of Dark in some way. Even if it doesn’t, I can’t wait to see where the game series goes next, even if I’m still busy getting my ass kicked by the first entry. Which I will beat, some day, because it now feels, in some weird way, destined to happen.

Source: Kotaku.com

Breaking Down the Magic, Monsters, and Burly Men of the Witcher Trailer

Wotcher, Witcher.
GIF: Netflix

At Comic-Con last week, Netflix finally, after months of teasing, gave us our first look at The Witcher in action. Not only did it reveal some pretty major, if unsurprising connections to the world of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, it also gave us some intriguing hints to what fans familiar to the CD Projekt Red games can get out of this new show.

The trailer opens, unsurprisingly, with a shot of Henry Cavill as the titular Witcher: Geralt of Rivia, a mercenary monster hunter who travels across the world killing monsters for gold. Geralt can do this—and has all that white hair to boot, a marker that sets him apart from even his fellow Witchers—because he is part of the self-named ancient order that exposes its warrior recruits to dangerous, toxic mutagens to transform them into Witchers, giving them enhanced strength, agility, senses, and the ability to cast magic, which is otherwise a very rare ability in The Witcher’s world—a place called The Continent.

“I remember hearing stories about Witchers… is it true what they say?” the narrator tells us, as we cut to a brief shot of of Geralt doing what he does best: fighting monsters. We see a little more of this encounter later on, but it appears to be an adaptation of the very first short story Sapkowski wrote about Geralt, “The Witcher,” eventually collected in the first short story anthology in the series, The Last Wish. In that tale, Geralt is tasked with slaying a beast called a Striga—who is actually the raised body of a Princess named Adda, cursed to transform into a monstrous beast for having an incestuous relationship with her brother, the prince of Temeria. “The Witcher” sees Geralt fight the beast and lift the curse from Adda.

Before we see too much more, we cut back to another brief shot of a bloodied Geralt in the town from the opening. Geralt is from a splinter faction of the old Witcher order called the School of the Wolf, hence the wolf medallion he’s wearing in these town scenes and elsewhere in the trailer.

Next, we get a brief shot of a forested realm and its warrior women inhabitants: these appear to be Dryads, and this is the realm of Brokilon—home to the all-female race and the toxic waters that can be used to transform members of other species into Dryads themselves. We see them encountering a young girl who is actually one of the most important characters on the show: Ciri, played by Freya Allan. A young princess from the kingdom of Cintra, Ciri is being hunted by a whole host of nefarious parties because of both her royal connection and her untrained, but vast, magical powers.

As we cut across shots of some interesting figures—a caravan of black-armored soldiers, a young, disfigured woman, who will become very important momentarily, and a woman using magic to casually lift a rock—we hear another figure provide more narration. This time essentially setting up the backstory for The Continent at large, explaining the history of magic and how, in an event known as the “Conjunction of the Spheres” in the books and games, supernatural beings and monsters began appearing across the world: “Elves are the original sorcerers of the Continent—when humans and monsters arrived, elves taught humans how to turn chaos into magic…”

“…and then, the humans slaughtered them,” the narrator—a mage named Istredd (Royce Pierreson) concludes, revealing himself as having been speaking to the disfigured young woman from earlier. This woman is another major Witcher character, known to fans of the books and games alike, but perhaps not in this particular form: this is Yennefer of Vengerberg, played by Anya Chalotra. A powerful sorceress herself, Yennefer was born with a severe curvature of the spine, and an abusive upbringing with her father leads to further traumas being inflicting on the young woman.

Yenn is what is known as a “source,” someone with natural-born capacity to wield magic, a rarity among humans. Eventually, she can harness this ability to completely alter her appearance to other people, casting an ever-present glamour that presents herself as a physically able, attractive young woman… which is why it’s slightly less peculiar that she eventually becomes one of Geralt’s love interests in the books and the games.

We next cut to a shot of the show’s version of the Isle of Thanedd, home to Aretuza. That’s a magic school for young women that Yen and several other sorcerers we’ll meet in the series, as well as Ciri herself eventually, honed their magical abilities.

“Chaos is the most dangerous thing in this world,” the green-robed sorceress we saw floating a rock earlier says to one of her students. This is Tissaia de Vries (played by MyAnna Buring), who plays a huge part in Yennefer’s backstory, being the woman who took the young Yenn in and helped hone her magical abilities to treat her conditions.

“But without control, Chaos will kill you,” Tissaia warns, as we get a few more intriguing shots: Ciri on an icy plain, Yennefer smashing a mirror, and what could be an overhead shot of the Chapter of the Gift and the Art, the higher conclave of sorcerers on Thanedd that Tissaia is part of. Eventually, in the books the Chapter is destroyed by infighting in a coup over whether not to support the invading Nilfgaardian Empire, a major faction in the series that we’ll see a bit more of soon.

We cut to cool shot of Geralt swinging a silver whip back in the same ruined castle he was shown briefly fighting in earlier. This feels like once again more affirmation that this action sequence is Geralt’s fight with the Striga in “The Witcher” as this twirl is basically ripped from the introductory cinematic for the first game in CD Projekt Red’s beloved video game trilogy, which depicts the same fight.

As we get to see a few more shots of Geralt’s battle with the Striga—and picking up some coin as a reward, as Witchers are wont to do—we get yet another narrator, this time a woman. “So that’s all life is to you,” she asks, of Geralt. “Monsters and money?” Basically…yeeeeaaaaah.

We cut to a wounded, recovering Geralt to see that this narrator is none other than not just another sorcerer, but another important figure in the books, games, and his life in general: Triss Merigold, played by Anna Shaffer. Triss, like Yenn, is also a source, and, like Yenn, is a love interest of Geralt’s. This scene presumably takes place shortly after Geralt’s encounter with the Striga, as when he first meets her, Triss is an adviser to the King of Foltest, who recruits Geralt to cure his daughter of her monstrous curse. “It’s all it needs to be,” Geralt says of the monsters and money.

“Something out there waits for you,” Triss ominously warns, as the trailer really starts getting into the main premise of the show: an adaptation of what is actually the first proper novel in Sapkowski’s series, Blood of Elves. “This child will be extraordinary,” a man tells Geralt, as we cut over shots of Ciri and her homeland, the kingdom of Cintra. This man is actually another interesting character from the books and the games—Mousesack (Adam Levy), better known to gamers as the druid Ermion. Mousesack has a small but important role in the books, guiding Geralt and Ciri to their eventual meeting.

As we mentioned, uh, a while back, Ciri isn’t just the princess of Cintra, but has elven blood, giving her magical abilities. We appear to cut to either one of her main abilities—magical visions and, at this point in the series, uncontrolled teleportation—as we see the young Ciri in a desert region looking upon a distinctly magical-looking tree.

In a brief interlude from Ciri and Geralt’s story, we cut back to moments between Tissaia and Yennefer during the latter’s brutal training. “Yennefer, imagine the most powerful woman in the world,” Tissia instructs, presumably beginning to teach Yen the magical ability to alter her appearance. “Do you have what it takes?” (not really a spoiler: she does! Yen is eventually one of the most powerful sorcerers around).

But now we’re back to Ciri’s story, and an important introduction of just one of the primary threats in the series: the invasion of the Kingdom of Cintra by the Nilfgaardian Empire. Nilfgaard attacks Cintra during the First Northern War. The woman we see here standing dumbstruck as the Nilfgaardian army attacks is likely Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May), Ciri’s grandmother. “She is why they came,” Calanthe says, presumably referring to Ciri. Calanthe leads her people in the fight against the Nilfgaardian’s until the bitter end, when, as we see briefly here, Cintra’s capital (also named Cintra, helpfully), is razed to the ground by the Nilflgaardian army.

As we see a brief moment of Ciri’s vast magical powers displaying themselves in the Cintran court—blasting the gathered crowds back suddenly. Mousesack continues to urge Geralt to face his destiny: protecting Ciri from the clutches of Niflgaard’s emperor. We also get some brief shots Yennefer’s glamoured form here, too—the appearance she projects to those around her to mask her true body.

“Find Geralt of Rivia,” Calanthe tells Ciri.

We finally cut back to the town we saw Geralt in at the start of the trailer. Note that Geralt isn’t fighting monsters here, but humans—this could be a town called Blaviken, where Geralt earns the nickname “The Butcher of Blaviken” for killing a bunch of thieves and mercenaries on the hunt for a local mage. Or it could just be any town and Geralt’s in a scrap because, at this point in history the Witchers themselves have become a rare breed, and aren’t really held in the highest regards, because they’re…well, kinda creepy monster hunters? Usually one of them being present is a portent that bad things are going down, so commonfolk tend to not particularly be too keen.

A few more random shots follow: Another shot of the Striga, Ciri begging with Calanthe that she can’t face her destiny alone before fleeing Cintra, and Yennefer encountering Geralt, at a masquerade that is likely the Belleteyn, a May Night festival Geralt and Yen meet each other at in Sword of Destiny, the second anthology collection in the book series. This isn’t actually how they first meet in the book series—that’s detailed in the short story “The Last Wish,” which collected in the anthology of the same name.

“No matter what you choose,” Mousesack continues, “You’ll come out bloody.”

We see Geralt getting involved in what appears to be a fight between Cintran soldiers and commoners—and we actually get a very brief glimpse of another character from the books.

This peculiar looking character is Duny and…is actually really important, but saying why would constitute ruining a major spoiler for the series at large. Suffice to say, at this point in the series, Duny is actually a prince who was cursed to look like a strange, hedgehog-like being.

We get another few glimpses of Ciri—first, encountering the Dryads after fleeing Cintra, and then second, what appears her escape from capital (you can juust about make out the blue cape she’s wearing throughout the trailer).

The trailer climaxes back during Geralt’s fight in the town from the opening—it’s cut to make it look like Yennefer is calling on Geralt and is in this fight as well, but it appears to be two different shots, given the inclement weather Yennefer is being drenched by is not present in Geralt’s scrap.

Back on Geralt though, you see him do something very familiar to fans of the game—point out three of his fingers. This is how Witchers cast magic in combat, called Signs, making runic gestures. He’s likely using Aard, one of the most basic signs in the game, which is essentially a telekinetic blast.

We sharply cut to a very brief, very peculiar shot of Tissaia catching a bolt of lightning and redirecting it through a hole in the ceiling. It’s hard to say where this is from, but if we were right earlier and Tissaia’s fellow sorcerers in the Chapter of the Gift and the Art are in the series, this could be part of the coup attempt, but that actually comes quite a bit into the series.

The trailer actually instead concludes with a very game-fan pleasing shot: a giant, spidery creature emerging out of a swamp as an incredibly messed up looking Geralt prepares to face it down.

The creature has a few more limbs that suggest it could even be an Arachnomorph, spider-creatures introduced in DLC for the third Witcher game, Wild Hunt, but given the books are the major source material for the show this looks like it could more likely be a Kikimore, a giant insectoid creature Geralt battles as a prelude the short story “The Lesser Evil,” a fight with which eventually brings Geralt to the town of Blaviken, where he earns his infamous nickname. It’d make sense if it is, given the town we saw him fighting in earlier!

Anyway, it’s this last shot that’s going to be especially pleasing to fans of the games: Geralt’s got black eyes here because he’s…poisoned himself to near death? Preparation ahead of combat is as important to the actual fight itself in The Witcher, and Witchers often temporarily boost their mutagenic abilities even further by drinking potions before going into a fight. But the potions are actually, essentially, various strengths of poison, so Geralt has to balance a fine line between giving himself a temporary boon and, well, killing himself.

In the games, this is represented by a toxicity meter that fills as players chug potions in and out of battle. As Geralt looks sicklier and sicklier the more it fills, a near-maxed-out meter is represented by, you guessed it, black eyes. It’s a cool visual callout to fans of the games to indicate that some serious business is about to go down.

Although short, our first look at The Witcher is a sweet one, whether you’re coming to it as a fan of the original books or of the gaming saga that catapulted their world into the wider cultural sphere. So far the show’s take on the novels seems to expand on the world in some interesting ways—especially on its focus beyond Geralt, particularly Yennefer’s origin story—while at the same time drawing in some familiar, fearsome foes that fans who devoured the Witcher games will get a kick out of seeing replicated on screen.

How much longer we’ll have to wait for this version of The Witcher to fully reveal itself remains to be seen—Netflix wouldn’t give a release date beyond later this year.

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Source: Kotaku.com

The Witcher’s Showrunner on Getting Video Game Fans Into the Series, and Season 2 Hints

Ciri (Freya Allan) on Netflix’s The Witcher.
Photo: Netflix

When Netflix first pitched Lauren Schmidt Hissrich the idea of doing a series based on The Witcher, she turned it down. She was a fan of the books and video games—so much so she even included a bathtub Easter egg in the first season—but was afraid of taking on a fantasy saga. What finally convinced her? Getting to tell the story she wanted in a way that not just appealed to fans of the books, but the games which are even more famous than the source material.

During a press roundtable at San Diego Comic-Con, Hissrich talked about why she ultimately decided to do The Witcher. Joking how “Netflix loves that story,” Hissrich shared that she agreed once the streaming network showed how much they cared for and valued the story she was most interested in telling:

I read the books and I basically said, “I loved The Last Wish. It was an incredible read. But I’m not a fantasy writer, guys, like I’m not who you’re looking for.” And they said, “Well, what would be your entrance into the story? If we said you have to write this, What would be your entrance in?”

I said it would be about what happens when Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer meet, and how we can craft a really disjointed family that’s meant to be together. That’s something that I knew that I could bring. That’s the base of all fantasy right? It’s just human experience. It’s maybe human experience in a world that we don’t live in, with monsters and with magic, but it really comes down to just what it’s like to walk through the world.

Hissrich emphasized that the core of the first season is about bringing Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer together and creating that core which defines many of the books and games. However, it is going to take some time to get there. Freya Allan, who plays Ciri, told io9 that Ciri and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) don’t spend a lot of time together this season—at least, not without Geralt—but that she’s looking forward to having more of that relationship develop between the two of them in the future.

“That’s something we haven’t explored yet. But I’m really looking forward to looking at that more, and I think it’s going to be a great relationship, because I think it’ll be very maternal one, [with] two strong female characters together and so I’m very excited,” Allan said.

For now, it’s about setting the stage. In fact, there are a few other things we won’t be seeing in the first season, but Hissrich hinted they could arrive in the second season should the series get one. She wouldn’t go into detail, as she doesn’t want to spoil things, but she did note how Istredd, one of Yennefer’s many lovers, is being introduced in the first season. He’s only in one of the original stories, but his early, more teasing presence in the first season hints at something bigger later on. Hissrich said it’s all about laying the groundwork for a larger story, instead of overloading the first season with too many characters or references.

“There is so much that I intended to put in this season, but I’m actually a really big believer in not cramming in story just for the sake of cramming in story,” Hissrich said. “It’s about letting these characters breathe and grow, so there’s definitely things that we didn’t get to.”

However, letting the characters do their own thing might be especially challenging for fans of the video games. Hissrich confirmed in the interview that the series is based on the original books, and will not be a video game adaptation. However, there will be Easter eggs and references that game fans will appreciate, like the aforementioned bathtub, but it’s it’s not based on the version most fans will recognize. It presents a unique problem because the games are arguably more well-known than the books. Several folks, including myself, weren’t even aware there were books until fairly recently.

I asked Hissrich about the unique challenges in developing a TV show based on a series where arguably the adaptation, meaning the video games, is more famous than the source material. She said video games are a powerful medium in that viewers, or players, feel a sense of control and autonomy over Geralt. But in this case, that control is being handed over to Henry Cavill. The themes and tones are similar but the presentation is different, and she trusts that audiences will be able to move seamlessly through both:

What I will always say to gaming fans when they say, “Is the show for me?” And I say well, what you love is based on the same books as this show is going to be based on, which means we’re all dealing with the same set of characters, the same themes, the same tones. What’s different is is the look, of course.

I think that people who really love the games are gonna love the show too. I think you just have to be open to seeing it as a journey where you’re sitting back and it’s happening, as opposed to you being in charge of it. And I think that’s gonna be a challenge for some people, certainly it’s a challenge for me to not feel like I get to control everything. I mean, I guess in this case I kind of do!

The Witcher hits Netflix later this year.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Here’s Why The Witcher Auditioned 207 Other Guys for Geralt When Henry Cavill Was Right There

It’s been a long road, Geralt of Rivia.
Image: Netflix (YouTube)

When Netflix revealed it was making a television adaptation of The Witcher, Henry Cavill immediately wanted in. However, producers still auditioned over 200 actors for Geralt before choosing him for the job. Why did it take four months and hundreds of actors before going with the leading man who wanted to be there in the first place? Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explains.

During a press roundtable at San Diego Comic-Con, io9 asked Hissrich to elaborate on a revelation from The Witcher panel that they’d auditioned 207 other actors before choosing Cavill—even though he’d gone to the streaming network expressing interest, well, basically as soon as he heard about the show existing.

“As soon as it was announced it was going to be a show, he contacted his agents who contacted Netflix and said he wants to be part of this. And Netflix was like, ‘We don’t have a show yet, there’s nothing to be a part of!’” Hissrich told me. “Once I came on board they expressed that to me, and I sat down and met him. But I was really honest with him and I said, ‘It’s really great to meet you, you seem like a nice guy. But we don’t have a script, we’re not even casting.’ And he sat back and understood.”

Over the course of about four months, Hissrich and the other producers auditioned 207 actors for the part of Geralt of Rivia. That’s not necessarily an unprecedented number, but it is pretty high—especially knowing that Cavill, a headliner who played Superman in several DC films, not only wanted the part but knew The Witcher series like the back of his hand. Hissrich explained that she thought it would be best to cast a wider net and see who else was out there, because she wasn’t sure Cavill was the right fit. But as talented as the actors were, it kept coming back to him:

The really interesting thing is that I do think with casting you have to see everything to know that you have the right thing. And having met with Henry, I knew he wanted the show but that didn’t mean that he necessarily was the right person for the show. So I met everyone else that also thought they were the right person for the show.

We had great auditions, but honestly I couldn’t get Henry’s voice out of my head as I started writing, and ultimately I called him back and said, “Are you still interested?” And he was like, “Absolutely. What do I need to do?” And I said, “I need to hear you be Geralt.” So we both flew to New York and basically did an audition, and he was pretty much hired on the spot.

Cavill’s casting did result in some interesting choices and changes for the character. For example, Cavill insisted on doing all of his own stunts. Every time you see Geralt performing an action sequence, it’s actually Cavill, and Hissrich explained that the actor had all the cuts, bruises, and “exhaustion to prove it.”

Hissrich also noted that there was one thing she ended up changing to better suit Cavill’s take on the character: This version of Geralt talks way less than he was originally supposed to.

“One of the things that probably shifted the most once we cast Henry is that Geralt speaks a lot less than I initially intended. In the books, Geralt’s actually quite chatty. He talks a lot. What I found, though, is that on-screen—especially with Henry portraying him—a lot can be done in looks and in grunts. Henry’s a big grunter. I mean that in the best way possible,” she said. “It’s kind of amazing what is accomplished in silence, and I think makes him that much more powerful of a character.”

The other interesting casting story from The Witcher is connected to Ciri, played in the series by Freya Allan. According to Hissrich, the whole process was “really difficult.” She’d initially planned for Ciri to be played by a child, following the character’s story and trajectory in the books. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the right young actor for the part—especially because they needed someone who could “grow up fast” to match the show’s faster-paced progression. Combined with complicated child labor laws that limit an actor’s ability to shoot at night, eventually, Hissrich came to an impasse.

“Someone said to me: ‘I’m not sure that Ciri is going to be able to be a big part of the series.’ And I was like, ‘Well, that’s not gonna work for me.’ So we skewed a little bit older,” she said.

Hissrich went on to share the story of choosing Allan for the part of Ciri, who was a newcomer who’d initially been cast for a different part:

We had actually cast her for another role. She had signed the contract, and was signed on for a one-episode role in episode one. We met everyone we could meet for for Ciri and I still just wasn’t finding it, I couldn’t find that sort of the person who embodied her in the way that I wanted them to…Sophie Holland, our casting director, actually called me and said, “I think we should think about Freya Allan for this.”

In the end, the casting of Cavill, Allan, and Anya Chalotra as Yennefer was kind of kismet. While Chalotra was the first and easiest casting of the trio, all three actors were hired on the spot once they’d finally gotten a chance to read for the roles. As Hissrich put it, it showed they’d found the right fit.

“For Henry, for Anya, and for Freya, each of them was cast in the room when we finally got in the room, which was incredible,” she said. “That’s how you know [you have] the right person.”

The Witcher debuts on Netflix later this year.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Lauren Schmidt Hissrich’s name in a few places. We have updated to correct and we regret the error. 

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Source: Kotaku.com