First off, Jeff Bridges' accent in this film. Unavoidable. Hits you like a truck. He sounds like he's perpetually doing the voice that everyone is familiar with, where you pretend to be a fancy British scholar to make fun of someone for saying something obnoxious. Only he does the more overwrought version, and he does it for hours without missing a beat, also after stuffing a jar of peanut butter into his mouth, all while trying to see how long he can smirk his face up over his teeth. It's a truly jarring character. It was psychologically upsetting to experience. It's hard to explain - he ACTS well, just the character he is acting--either through his own choice or the devices of some deranged director--is unpleasant to listen to or look at.
That aside, the script here is a complete train wreck. I am convinced it was an experiment by a neuropsychology lab to divine what happens when you take someone writing a script and slowly give them a lobotomy over the course of a month to study the effect on their writing. It begins poorly, and gets worse from there. I will attempt to avoid any spoilers by referencing characters obliquely and not giving narrative conclusions. I also don't discuss the ending. If you've ever read The Witcher, it ends the way every single story involving Geralt and Yennefer ends (i.e. no resolution, although there it was a well-written plot device, here it's nothing), so you're not missing much. Below is really just a catalog of bizarre and absurd moments in the story that defy explanation as the conscious choices of a professional scriptwriter.
We open with the main character being able to throw a knife with dart-like accuracy about a hundred feet where it embeds itself solidly into a tree inches away from a deer. Apparently, based on his sister's taunts, he can't ever hit an animal. This makes no sense, and I was expecting some signal that his misses were intentional. But no, he has supernatural knife skills but the accuracy of a stormtrooper. Later on, he loses this ability to throw knives during training and is just bad even at 10 feet. This is never explained.
At some point, Jeff Bridges calls a creature a "level six monster." This is never referenced again for the entire film. Not once. This is a throwaway line that is perhaps intended to give his character the air of an experienced monster hunter, but is wildly jarring and has no context given to it ever again.
At another point, after we watch a woman summon a scorpion bone spine tail from her dress and kill one of what we have been informed are supposedly master assassins, for absolutely no reason but a perceived social slight of "looking at her," despite the fact that she literally summoned them there to take orders from her (also they don't have any visible eyes, so this is also inexplicable), one character finally has to speak up. She takes her mother aside, and after watching a woman plunge a scorpion tale of spinal vertebrae through a man's thorax, says "she's dangerous, mother." Thanks, Einstein.
At another point, the main character asks a woman if she is a witch. She scoffs, and answers, "My FATHER is a gypsy, my MOTHER is a witch. So I'm a witch," as if that is not how being a witch works in pretty much all lore on planet Earth, and is some sort of crazy answer. She then tells him minute details about private interactions he has with Jeff Bridges' character in private inside their own home, and his response is a genuine question: "Have you been spying on us?" Incredible. Amazing dialogue.
At another point, bells ring in the distance, and Jeff Bridges announces "I AM BEING SUMMONED!" Without any significant cut, a crowd of people immediately appears in his camp on horseback. Great timing by the bellringers to act as a remote doorbell.
At this point, about halfway through the movie, you realize the scriptwriters have managed to give no emotional depth to the characters. The stories they have sound like an outline of an actual story. Like if a character was out to avenge his parents, and just said "My parents were killed by an evil person, and now I want to avenge them." No emotion woven into anything, just these paper-thin motivations that are straight up served to you without any interface with the audience.
We also find out the supposedly sad story of how the villain became a villain, but mostly makes it seem like another guy was a kind of sociopath to her, she overreacted, and then he buried her underground to be in a cage forever and seems completely confused as to how she became "evil."
We are then introduced to the entire world's most powerful magical artifact, which the main character just takes out of his pocket. He's just had it, the whole time. I thought I had missed it, so I literally skipped back and panned through the movie. I did not. He just had it on a rope. This was never mentioned until this point, or hinted at.
At another point, a horse turns into what appears to be a T-Rex. Later on in the movie, the character riding the horse turns into a T-Rex. This is never explained.
We see a character fly around killing a bunch of people with two swords. We assume, reasonably, this is the "Master of Swords," who has been referenced. It is not. The Master of Swords appears and uses four (4) swords to kill one (1) person.
A character who is supposedly a dark master assassin stands directly in front of people and beats them to death in broad daylight. This seems like bad form for an assassin, but you know, it works. This character is killed when a witch slowly (and I mean, literally almost TEN SECONDS of screen time is spent on it) levitates a pitchfork up to face him. He stands there motionless laughing. The pitchfork moves towards him quickly, but from a distance. He stands there. It connects with him, at which point he seems completely shocked that the pitchfork moving towards him did not teleport off in another direction and indeed hit the person it was traveling towards. He explodes. Reminder: master assassin.
At some point, the witch's soldiers gain the ability to fly through the forest (and be immediately killed). This is not explained at any point. They could not do this previously. They've been working out.
Jeff Bridges has a troll(?) assistant, who is person-sized. He seems to have little trouble just pushing down these dark assassin soldiers who have brutally killed pretty much everyone who isn't a main character.
In another scene, the dark soldiers pick up an entire tree trunk, in the middle of intense combat, and begin a long run towards Jeff Bridges. He does not move. At the last second, he steps aside, and his assistant troll dude gets absolutely BODIED off the cliff by this tree. Jeff Bridges' character seems kind of like an awful guy. The main character also falls off this cliff. It's at least a 10-20 story drop, and I estimate that because it's about 10 stories and then some fog, after which more falling happens. The main character lands on stone. He is fine. So is the troll. Everyone is indestructible.
At this point, because it's convenient, you notice that pretty much any time a witch is stabbed, they immediately die forever in an explosion of fire. This feels a bit like Daybreakers. It is not explained why witches actually need to be super careful or they could explode at any time.
At another point, a very powerful old witch turns into a T-Rex (see horse scene previously). Jeff Bridges asks him to not be a dragon. He un-dragons himself. Jeff Bridges kills him and says he shouldn't have not been a dragon.
Having read these books and also The Witcher, I will tell you that there is an obscenely parallel narrative, particularly in the film, to basically the entire concept of The Witcher. This was not really the case in the books - it was similar in the sense of a monster hunter series with magic and witches, and to be frank, was closer than you could call "accidental," but it stayed far enough away. The movie seems to have done away with this disparity, and basically drawn a ton of narrative parallels around choice in love and "destiny" and whether or not the main character can bring himself to kill "bad things" over and over again. This is, as those of you who have read Sapkowski's novels will note, basically the central moral dilemma of The Witcher. I'm not saying you can't do the same story twice, but please do a better job of doing it if you're going to bother.
If you have made it this far, thank you for reading my review and if you're still inclined, stream away. It's what I'd call a "good bad movie," particularly if you have company to laugh with.