Director: Marek Brodzki

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Wiedzmin A tale of sword & sorcery, or druidry in medieval Poland, a child is chosen by warriors to have his face scarred & to become the titular character of Hexer (Wiedzmin, 2001).

When grown, Geralt of Rivia, the Hexer (Michal Zebrowski), is also called the White Wolf, as he's a white-haired warrior, haughty & powerful, & the nod to Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone could well be intentional. Geralt's specialty is fighting dragons & monsters.

Pavetta (Agata Buzek), a strong beautiful maiden, is the future queen, but as women are not permitted to rule, she is being forced to wed. She has magic powers & uses them to help herself in chosing her own husband. Her choice is the Hedgehog Prince (Daniel Olbrychski) who lives under a curse which a consumated marriage will lift.

By her power & the support of Geralt, she has her way & the spell upon Duny is lifted, drawing either from Beauty & the Beast, or just reversing the usual "kiss the frog prince" motif.

WiedzminGeralt is offered a reward of anything he desires. He says he will return at a future time to name his price, a princess not yet born. In his journeys to follow, Geralt meets a Lord with three warrior daughters.

As a heroic fantasy tale, all this amounts to is ridiculousness & cliche, & boils down to a tiresome theme of dragonslaying. The locations are sometimes grand, but the special FX are on the level of a children's cartoon. A lot of the cast looks perfect for the tale, craggy & worn faces being just the thing. It's only too bad the old-hat of a dragon is such a lousy piece of animation. A better story about anything else might've shown off the actors' finer points.

Geralt has great presence & looks the part, not an easy achievement. Some of the swordplay is great. When there are no stupid-looking dragons on screen, the film's a visual treat. The duel with the villanous amazon Renfri (Kinga Ilgner) is also a delight.

YWiedzminet for every just-about-great moment, there's inevitably something extremely stupid as counterpoint, like chasing a baby dragon through the grass, as real looking as a Punch puppet; or the appallingly cheezy "minstrel" who recurs like the annoying minstrel in Jabberwocky (1977), though what Terry Gilliam did for comedy Hexer's director seems to have thought was serious stuff.

The Wiedzmin saga is from a series of fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, very popular in Poland. This feature-film version, drawing from the first two books in the series, was condensed from a European television mini-series. It's hard to know if it would've made more sense without missing segments. I personally couldn't've gotten through it had it been any longer.

The film is very gloomy for a kiddy-flick, even while too hoky-dopy for adult appeal. But it would be a pretty cool kid who preferred this tragic-toned fantasy to upbeat Disney crapola, even if Disney had vastly better production values. And the point, when it becomes known the Hexer actually likes dragons, is bound to have kid appeal.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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