Witcher Animated Film is a Must-Watch Before Season 2
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is an animated feature film from Netflix extends the story of the Netflix live action series The Witcher. While the series is an adaptation of the stories from Andrzej Sapkowski's series of novels, this anime-style film from director Kwang Il Han tells the backstory of the witcher Vesemir and the sacking of Kaer Morhen that resulted in this world's shortage of witchers. Both Vesemir and Kaer Morhen will be part of Season 2 of The Witcher coming December 17, and this film should enrich your Season 2 experience if you've been following the series.
The film itself is beautiful to watch with intriguing characters and engaging storytelling. It has the style of a modern 2D anime like Attack on Titan. Be warned, though, that it also has violence and gore on par with both The Witcher series and with many teen+ anime series (like, again, Attack on Titan). Like its live-action counterpart, the film is definitely not made for either young kids or the faint of heart.
In its storytelling, the film makes no assumptions that you have read the books or played the games. The books and games do feature some of these characters and refer to the events depicted in the film, but the film is a completely original backstory for those characters and events. That said, the film is easier to connect to if you've at least seen Season 1 of The Witcher series.
If you do want to know a bit more before you seeing Nightmare of the Wolf (without any spoilers), here's the scoop:
Both novel readers and those who played the Witcher games from CD PROJEKT RED will recognize Vesemir as the mentor of Geralt, the main protagonist that gives the Witcher stories their name. They will also recognize Kaer Morhen as an old keep where witchers trained from childhood and where they gathered annually to live out each winter season.
The film gives us a glance at Vesemir's life before Kaer Morhen, his trials to become a witcher, and his early life as a witcher around the time that Kaer Morhen was sacked. The sacking of Kaer Morhen was an event mentioned briefly in Season 1 of the Netflix series, and I suspect Season 2 will describe it in more detail. This film reveals the history leading up to that attack and how it all played out.
Definitely check out The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf! Not only is it the perfect companion for Netflix series fans, but book and game fans should also have fun seeing familiar faces and references and an adventurous young Vesemir in action!
Have you seen The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf? What did you think? Share your reactions in the comments.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 1 Wrap-up and Omega Theories
It's been a crazy summer of hot days and career changes for me, but Star Wars: The Bad Batch has been a consistent part of each weekend. Since my article kicking off the season, I've looked forward to this time to reflect on the series so far. Now that Season 1 has come to a close, and knowing we have a Season 2 ahead, let's take that plunge into the spoiler-rich Kaminoan depths!
First thing's first: this show is an epic visual and audio experience in every episode. The colors and lighting are stunning, reproducing masterfully crafted live-action cinematography in an animated format. The action itself is worthy of the Star Wars brand and on par with an action-packed Marvel film. Also, the sound design is a perfect match to the visual experience, including the use of the ear ringing effect after an explosion and simulating even the most subtle position changes of characters in the frame.
Completing the show is Kevin Kiner's engaging score, bringing the power and emotion we've come to expect in a Star Wars production. As he did in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, Kiner finds just the right melodies and impact for each moment in The Bad Batch. One musical moment that stands out for me is his blending the unique sound of Fennec Shand's theme into the action score during her confrontation with fellow bounty hunter Cad Bane.
Omega and Hunter
The basis for this amazing experience is in its writing: the stories and characters were engaging, and I was invested in each of them from the start. Our main characters, the Bad Batch itself, evolve into more than the stereotypes I introduced in my previous article. Season 1 forced them to adapt to a new world where the Republic and the humanitarian values the clones fought for have been absorbed by a cold, oppressive Empire. Former enemies are now allies in the fight to remain free from tyranny, and former allies are now showing them the business ends of their blasters. Crosshair, Hunter, and Omega each evolved a great deal by the season finale.
That writing comes to life thanks to some great performances. I trusted that Dee Bradley Baker would be up to the enormous task he had in the recording booth, and my trust was rewarded. Dee has taken his work from The Clone Wars to the next level. Every character he voices has a wholly unique sound, personality, and emotional profile: the entire Batch, Captain Rex, Gregor, and every other clone trooper, plus a few additional characters. As I watched, I was constantly amazed at Dee's performances, and I'd love to see him get some awards for his work on Season 1. Check out this Entertainment Tonight interview with Dee talking about his work in The Bad Batch:
As a quick note for those going into the voice acting career field, make sure you put Dee's website on your personal list of resources to read and reference: iwanttobeavoiceactor.com.
Michelle Ang (photo by Sam Nixon)
Complementing Dee was Michelle Ang's performance as Omega, which highlights the character's wide range of experiences throughout the season. Every emotional state is distinct with lots of great nuance in Michelle's delivery. The writing for Season 1 doesn't leave Omega in the passenger seat as a perspective character; she's an active part of driving the story forward. And thanks to Michelle's performance, I feel like I'm fighting with the Batch right alongside Omega!
There's another dimension to my love for this show that I call the "Filoniverse factor." Dave Filoni created both The Clone Wars and Rebels, and he's been side-by-side with Jon Favreau on The Mandalorian, too. The Filoniverse refers to Filoni's original characters and storylines that gained popularity on their own and have cross-connected the shows he's been involved with. The Bad Batch, created by Jennifer Corbett and Brad Rau, is solidly anchored in the Filoniverse with cameos from characters like Cut and Suu from The Clone Wars, Hera Syndulla and Chopper from Rebels, and Captain Rex and Cham Syndulla who were in both of those series. As a big fan of the Filoniverse, I was excited to see every familiar character.
Kanan Jarrus, formerly Caleb Dume (left), and Hera Syndulla (right) appeared as adolescents in Season 1 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, a great tie-in with a fan-favorite Star Wars couple from Star Wars: Rebels (center).
Early in the season, though, I was afraid that we would revisit so many other Filoniverse characters that it would take away from the Batch. I had a similar reaction when Ahsoka Tano became part of Rebels: for a few episodes, it felt like her presence put a dampener on the show's standalone story. But the writers eventually balanced Ahsoka's presence in the show without compromising the show's own characters and story. By the end, it felt like I was watching one larger story of the Star Wars universe, not a standalone series.
That's the same impression I have now with The Bad Batch. Rex, the Martez sisters, Hera, and more crossed over, but in a way that looks like we were just seeing some missing chapters in their lives. Everything is still tied to the story of the Batch, which is intrinsically linked to everything going on in the galaxy during this transitional time. I hope that balance remains moving forward to Season 2.
The Bad Batch helps Cid retrieve a spice shipment in an action-adventure sequence from S1:E13, "Infested."
I'll have to do another article soon reflecting on how this show and others are developing and cross-connecting the broader Star Wars universe. There's a lot ahead with the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano series, the continuation of The Mandalorian, and the new Boba Fett story. I am loving seeing all these brilliant creators working together to tell a single epic and engaging story. (And maybe us Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order fans will eventually get the Cal Kestis cameo we had hoped to see when the Bad Batch was on Bracca.)
Now, though, I want to go back to Omega and talk a bit about this ongoing mystery and popular theory about what makes her unique as a clone.
Omega tells the Batch about a hidden access to enter the cloning facility on Kamino.
What we know: We've learned that Omega is an "unaltered" clone, so she doesn't have the rapid aging and soldier-related enhancements of her brothers. She's also female and doesn't display Jango Fett's physical features. It certainly makes sense that using Jango's X chromosome and not his Y chromosome would have affected gene expression. That said, The Clone Wars and Rebels aren't known for a lot of subtlety when it comes to hinting about character origins and abilities, so I suspect The Bad Batch is following that model. That leaves me asking:
Is Omega really a Jango Fett clone, or is her genetic donor someone else entirely?
The Force-sensitive clone theory: My question ties in with a popular theory that Omega is a Force-sensitive clone. But I have my doubts about Omega's Force sensitivity after watching through the season twice. Omega does have heightened perception, and she's got a sharper-than-average head for tactics. However, she hasn't displayed the more obvious Force traits like telekinesis. Even in the life-or-death situations, she was in during the season finale, she didn't unlock that ability. So if she is Force-sensitive, it manifests differently than the Jedi and Sith we know, or she's going to have to unlock it in a different way.
Obi-Wan Kenobi introduces Sheev Palpatine (left) to a young Anakin Skywalker (right) for the first time.
Putting the clues together: If we combine those clues with a creative consideration of Omega's character design, we could guess that she's a clone of then-Senator Palpatine as part of his long-term plan. But Omega's curiosity, optimism, and skills in mechanics (when fixing Gonky and Todo 360) may be some less-than-subtle references to young Anakin from Phantom Menace. I would certainly see the logic in her being a clone of either Palpatine or Anakin, or some combination of both, maybe with Jango's DNA mixed in.
Is Omega (center) truly a first-generation clone of Jango Fett like Kix (left), or does she have genetic material from a Force-sensitive like Palpatine (top-right) or Anakin (bottom-right)?
In any case, Omega being a clone of a Force-sensitive person would be one explanation for why the Kaminoans hired bounty hunters to bring her back to Kamino. As to whether she'll manifest more noticeable Force powers, though, I'm happy to remain unspoiled and speculation-free as we anticipate Season 2. For now, it's enough for me that she's a clever and fun character to follow.
Crosshair finds his true purpose in serving in the Empire and encourages his Bad Batch brothers to do the same.
Wrapping up my overall impressions, I can relate to the perspective I've read from some viewers that Season 1 felt unfinished. As I reflect, I think it's just because I hoped that Crosshair would return to the Batch by the end of the season. But I think the writers were smart to acknowledge that even without an inhibitor chip, the clones are individuals who can choose different paths and be compelled by different values and purposes. That's a much stronger message overall. Plus, given its place in the Star Wars timeline, this isn't the kind of story they could wrap up with a nice neat bow.
Once they announced a Season 2, I knew we would see an ending that was more like being in the eye of the storm rather than in its aftermath. Fortunately, they're set up to tackle some new adventures in Season 2.
How are you feeling about The Bad Batch as we reflect on Season 1? And where do you stand on the theories about Omega's origins? Let's discuss in the comments!