The Witcher: Blood Origin is getting savage reviews from critics and fans

Dude, Netflix needs to toss a lot more than a coin to The Witcher with the way things are going. The franchise is taking more hits than Geralt in the heat of battle. Aaand that’s about all the references I can make. But the show’s hurting. First Henry Cavill dipped and Liam Hemsworth was not well received. And Henry’s complaints about how the show was treating source material were shared with many of the show’s fans. Those same complaints may explain why the prequel, The Witcher: Blood Origin, has gone over like a lead balloon. Or maybe it’s just a truly crap show, because it’s hated by both critics and fans alike. The show has a measly 35% approval rating with critics and an almost non-existent 12% with audiences. And it’s got Michelle Yeoh in it!

The Witcher: Blood Origin is a limited series set within the same universe as Netflix’s main Witcher show, and both are based on the original series of novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. However, Blood Origin is set a thousand years before the events of the original television series, and “depicts the creation of the first Witcher, as well as the events leading to the Conjunction of the Spheres.” It also stars Michelle Yeoh, who definitely deserves better than this poorly reviewed, low-rated fantasy prequel.

Over on movie review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Blood Origin sports a 36 percent approval rating among critics and an even worse eight percent approval rating from fans (h/t Forbes). While the critic score is bad and places it among some of the worst-rated original shows on Netflix, it’s the historically low eight percent audience rating that’s really wild.

Of course, it should be noted that some fans are review-bombing the series for a few different reasons. Some are angry Henry Cavill supporters still fuming about his late October exit from the main show. Others are Witcher fans who continue to be frustrated with Netflix’s handling of the original source material in its Witcher projects

Yet, it’s hard to ignore that very low eight percent viewer rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Even Netflix’s supposedly despised Resident Evil show has a 26 percent approval rating from fans. (Halo sits at a comparatively excellent 52 percent.) Blood Origin’s rating, at least from what I can tell, seems to be the lowest viewer score from any Netflix original show. It’s even lower than some other infamously review-bombed films and shows, like Disney and Marvel’s She-Hulk (33 percent) or Star Wars: The Last Jedi (42 percent).

With all that in mind, my read is that this isn’t just another case of a property getting review-bombed by chuds, but instead just a really bad show that even diehard Witcher fans don’t enjoy. Reading fan reviews, many complain about the shoddy CGI, boring pace, bland writing, and a general lack of direction. This echoes similar complaints from critics, too. For Netflix, this can’t be a good thing, and doesn’t bode well for the future of its monster-slaying franchise in a post-Henry Cavill Witcher-verse.

[From Kotaku]

Not that anyone asked me, but I think it’s a little from Column A and a little form Column B. I haven’t read the source material so I can’t comment on how far these bozos are straying from it. But we’ve seen with Game of Thrones that fans will allow a lot if they like where the filmmakers are going. Or if the actors are hot enough – I don’t know, I never liked Game of Thrones, so I don’t know why people stuck with that. But I understand the dismal ratings if Netflix is completely messing up the source material. They’ve destroyed enough good material *coughTheSandmancough*. Review bombing is so prevalent, though and is probably a factor. Liam H needs to prepare himself now, he’ll be creamed by a large group of people who will bash his performance without watching it. While I understand the disappointment of losing an actor you love in a role, it’s not fair to trash a replacement, they’re just doing their job. If he deserves it, fine. But let him earn it. And, like the article points out, even with the review bombing, the other shows that have been hit have not sunk as low as Blood Origin.

Which takes us to Column B, the show must suffer. Lack of direction is one thing but bad CGI and boring pacing in a fantasy genre show? That’s criminal. You’ve lost the plot if you can’t get those right. But how did they attract Michelle Yeoh and Minnie Driver with a crap script? I swear, Netflix sells stuff on spec, throws money at actors and just then forgets about it when it comes to actual production. Meanwhile, Apple TV is turning out better and better content. Netflix better wake up and remember that Amazon and Apple have revenue sources that can sustain their endeavors. And for gawd’s sake, do better for Michelle Yeoh.

Witcher: Blood Origin photos credit: Susie Allnutt and Lilja Jonsdottir for Netflix and YouTube

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30 Responses to “The Witcher: Blood Origin is getting savage reviews from critics and fans”

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  1. Missy says:

    For what it’s worth, I found this a fun show to have on while I exercised?? Maybe they should push more in that direction, this show is good for people to glance at as they catch their breath….

    • Snoozer says:

      Ever since the pandemic started I have lost my appetite for prestige drama and depressing material. All I want is light comedies, fantasy and a touch of sci-fi. I am eating up all of these fantasy shows and I do not care if they’re not all top notch. I am loving Willow on Disney+ and it is getting savaged. I watched all of Blood Origin. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible. It was just entertaining fluff. The costumes were gorgeous. The actors were great even if the script was pretty shitty at times. It had clearly been chopped up and pieced back together; but if you overlooked the weird pacing and resulting plot holes it was still kinda fun. People get way too upset about this kind of thing. Not every show is going to be amazing! They could have done a LOT more with a talented cast; but it was just like an 80s style fantasy – a bit silly and nonsensical but entertaining nonetheless.

      • Lemons says:

        I have to agree with you there, Snoozer. I have had my fill of prestige television and don’t have the energy for a lot of it. Give me a Blood Origin to pass my nights after a long day. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful.

      • Twin Falls says:

        I’m just here to plug Willow, too. It’s so good and people who review bomb out of spite suck.

      • ArtHistorian says:

        I enjoy Willow so much. The old movie holds a lot of nostalgia for me – and I think the show captured a lot of that charm as well as adding a lot of charm with the new characters.

      • Concern Fae says:

        Yeah, 10 hours is too long for anything that isn’t spectacular. Realized that if I can watch 10 hour TV shows, I have time to read books. Read 80 books last year and watched only three TV series.

        Another issue is the end of TV recaps. If a series turned out to be mid, I’d check the recaps. I was able to read the plot summaries and skip the low rated episodes, saving myself lots of time. Now they only do the blockbuster shows, so that option isn’t available.

    • Sarita says:

      I really enjoyed it! For what it’s worth, I love The Witcher but am unfamiliar with the game and source material.
      I’m a fan of the fantasy genre and had no idea this was dropping so I had zero expectations attached.
      I was stoked when Michelle Yeoh made her appearance and I enjoyed all the leads.
      Obviously having no prior knowledge or expectations of it going in made a difference but I watched all four episodes on NYE, it was an unexpected little treat

  2. Neners says:

    I didn’t watch it. I’m not going to lie: Henry Cavill leaving The Witcher main series has soured me on the whole universe. But I might be alone in that.

    • bus says:

      Same here. Part of the reason I gave the Witcher a chance was because of Cavill…because he’s a gamer and a bit of a nerd so I thought he’d lean really heavily into a fantasy role and give it his all. A fans actor. He did and he gave a good performance. I have no idea if it was accurate, but it was clear he invested in the role of Geralt that he knew and if the writers, who were reported to not be fans of the Witcher universe, were tossing that to the side to invent a new Geralt, well, I can see how that can be problematic for him as a fan of the original works. You would think if the new direction was at least, interesting, that he’d ignore the change of direction in exchange for a paycheck. That he didn’t or that they didn’t offer either tells me that its going to suck bad or that existing fans will hate it. I wasn’t an existing fan so I’ll give it a whirl (I liked the Harry Potter movies til I read the books) but my expectations are low.

  3. Alyse says:

    Not watched it yet as the reviews put me off but I will get round to it. But I have to disagree with you on Sandman, it was great!

    • Snoozer says:

      Yeah, I really liked it!!

    • ArtHistorian says:

      Blood Origin is really bad – but the empress’s costumes are amazing (couture from Iris van Herpen).

      The Sandman is absolutely amazing!!!! I’m so happy that there’ll be a season 2 (and I’m gutted that 1899 was cancelled).

      • CC says:

        I’m with you on “1899.”

      • Erin says:

        Wait what?! 1899 has already been cancelled?? I haven’t even gotten a chance to watch it! It just came out and I was so excited because I absolutely loved Dark. Wtf Netflix! I’m seriously ready to cancel. There is so much content yet hardly anything worth watching anymore. I need to hang on unit the last season of the Witcher with HC though.

        My husband also started RE and said it was bad. He enjoyed sandman for a while, though he said it got really disturbing and I think he has stopped watching.

      • Erin says:

        Ok so I just asked him and he said there was one episode of Sandman that he pretty much skipped through but he finished the whole season.

      • ArtHistorian says:

        I’m halfway through 1899 but it is so damn good. I haven’t watched Dark yet but it is such a shame that 1899 isn’t getting a season 2. It is rare to see a show that is as well done as this one. The creepy, mind-bendy story, the use of sound and music, the performances. I’m making myself sad all over again.

  4. Lola says:

    The review bombing was expected, true. In this case the review bombing is particularly vicious because the main character of Blood Origin is a brown-skinned Black woman with locs, and the rest of the cast is inclusive.

    “Critics” get exceptionally vicious when Black people exist in their fantasy series. Look no further than Ewan McGregir having to defend his Obi Wan costar from a vicious internet pile on or the new live action Little Mermaid.

    I watched the series, it is great. I’m not sure where it fits in The Witcher cannon, but as a stand alone I was entertained.

    • Seán says:

      Racism is definitely a thing in The Witcher fandom but Blood Origin was really bad! Terrible CGI, generic characters, contrived storytelling and screenwriting gems like “Fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck!” There are definitely fans review bombing this over the race and inclusivity aspects but there are plenty of genuine reasons why people give this a negative review.

  5. Sierra says:

    I watched it and only managed to finish it due to my love for Michelle Yeoh.

    • Tacky says:

      Netflix hires A list actors and D list writers. So many of its series are disappointing.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      Michelle Yeoh, the Iris van Herpen couture and the dwarf character are the only good things about this show. It was extraordinarily badly written.

  6. Cat says:

    I was surprised to see that comment about the Sandman. I don’t watch a ton of shows but I did watch the Sandman and have absolutely loved it. I think each episode just keeps getting better and better and I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan. There are several videos on their Instagram that show the side-by-side between the comics and the episodes and it’s pretty spot on. I know Neil Gaiman is heavily involved.

  7. CC says:

    Partway through episode three, I paused it and saw there was somehow only one episode left. I thought maybe this was one of those Netflix shows that would have more episodes out the following weeks, but no. I read somewhere that it originally had at least a couple more episodes and was significantly edited down. It didn’t interest me enough to finish it.

  8. deezee says:

    I watched it. It wasn’t the worse thing I’ve seen but it felt like a big build up to just end so abruptly. It was poorly planned out; poorly executed. Also Minnie Driver is barely in it …. she narrates and is in the first episode for like 2 minutes.

  9. PaperclipNumber99 says:

    It wasn’t perfect, but I really loved the first season. The tone completely shifted in the second, though, and it was really jarring! It’s like they decided to throw 70 percent of what made it so cool out the window. Really disappointing. I’d imagine Cavill was happy to have an excuse to cut and run. He is SUPER into and very reverent of the source material. Hope they can recapture it, but I’m not optimistic. Not sure the new guy will be able to reproduce Cavill’s hilariously constipated impatience, sly wit, and commanding presence. People tend to forget that he’s actually a pretty good actor.

  10. HeyKay says:

    I watched The Witcher, enjoyed it.
    It was interesting, Cavill was very good, great special effects, action, bit of humor.
    But it is years between seasons. I’ve lost interest completely.

    I hope M. Y. was paid very well, from the previews I saw this show was built around her.

  11. Likeyoucare says:

    Only able to watch the first episode. Poor Michele yeoh, such wasted talent.

  12. Christine says:

    What are you on? The Sandman was a GREAT adaptation. Closest to the source material than anything I’ve watched before.

  13. Cel2495 says:

    I must be crazy then because I did enjoy it 😂
    I binge watch it over the holidays!

  14. SMS says:

    The phrase column A and column B originated in a racist comedy routine imitating a heavily accented waiter in a Chinese restaurant. Using it in an article about a show with an Asian star is unfortunate.