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Game Of Thrones Season 1 Blu-ray Review

“Game Of Thrones” is the best show on television.

Based on author George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy book series “A Song Of Ice And Fire,” “Game Of Thrones” generally follows the story of the first book (“A Game Of Thrones”) and revolves around the Kingdoms of Westeros. The story mainly focuses on the House Stark, House Baratheon, House Lannister, House Targaryen, and House Arryn families as well as the nomad horde group known as the Dothraki who allie themselves with House Targaryen. The main storylines in the 10 episode season 1 involve Ned Stark reluctantly becoming the Hand Of The King, House clashes, secrets, murder, the Night’s Watch (a sort of border patrol job), betrayal, a struggle for the Iron Throne, and looming threats of war and the emergence of the deadly White Walkers.

When I first heard “Game Of Thrones” was coming to HBO, I was thrilled. If there’s one genre that has struggled to succeed in television and film it has been fantasy. For the most part, the genre has been plagued by cheesy, low budget production values, brutally truncated stories, and unintentionally comedic characters (see “Dungeons And Dragons” and “Legend Of The Seeker” for reference). With HBO as the home of ‘Thrones’, however, you knew that the adapated fantasy story would have room to breathe in the television format and that the production values would be top of the line. As it turns out, ‘Thrones’ is indeed a perfect fit for HBO and a near perfect show to boot.

In an age where TV shows tend to stick to bland formulas and lack any sort of surprises, “Game Of Thrones” is a refreshing change of pace as the show is anything but routine. The plot twists are positively shocking and game changing, the content and themes are decidedly adult, the characters are layered and complex, and the universe of Westeros is both rich and vivid. Some folks have argued that the show takes its time to build and develop stories, but I can say patience is definitely rewarded here. By the time you get to episode 9 (“Baelor”), you’ll forget about wading through a character centric episode. Unlike some shows (cough “Lost” cough), the storylines do develop and there are several payoffs that will leave you wanting more. And if there’s one thing I can definitely say about ‘Thrones,’ it’s that you will be left wanting season 2 (which premies April 1st, 2012) immediately after watching season 1.

As far as the characters go, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch. Even the unlikeable “villains” light up the screen. The two real stars, however, are Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Sean Bean (Ned Stark). Dinklage, who has been winning awards left and right, is as good as you’ve heard. He owns every scene he is in and delivers every line to perfection. Bean, best known as being Boromir in “The Fellowship Of The King,” also shines as what one could say is the main character of the first season. He brings true humility to his role. You really feel for his character in this chaotic world.

Summary: My advice? Stop reading this review and buy this set now.

Video/Audio:

The series, which is presented in 1.78:1 1080p, can best be described in a single word- wow. Not only does the Blu-ray transfer blow the hi-def broadcasts out of the water, but this might be the best looking show on Blu-ray period. The lighting, colors, clarity is absolutely mindblowing. You notice so many more details in everything on screen.

The 5.1 DTS-HD audio track is equally stunning. This is such a deep, layered track. It does the series proud.

Disc Note:

Note: I should warn viewers that the disc menus are somewhat confusing. For instance, disc 1 lists episodes 3-5, but only the first 2 episodes are on that disc. Make sure to read the disc labels to see which episodes are on what discs. Other frustrating issues include extras listed on discs that appear on other discs and lengthy load times.

Extras:
* A handy fold-up booklet containing episode summaries, family trees, and a map of Westeros.
* Episode previews, re-caps, easter eggs (AKA Dragon Eggs).
* In-Episode Guide- A pop-up guide that offers up information about characters, locations, history , maps, etc.
* Commentary on episode 1 by David Benioff and Dan Weiss. Dry, but informative.

*Commentary on episode 2 by Lena Headey, Mark Addy, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. A generally quiet track with moments where the 3 praise everyone (and everything) and joke around.
* Commentary on episode 3 by Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, and Sophie Turner. A very talkative and playful track by 3 child actors. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual track.
* Commentary on episode 4 by Bryan Cogman and Kit Harington. Not the most exciting track, but it’s nice to get a writer’s and actor’s perspective.
* Commentary on episode 6 by Daniel Minahan, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Harry Lloyd. It might not be the most informative track, but it’s entertaining.
* Commentary on episode 8 by George R.R. Martin. Definitely the best track here as Martin has the most to say.
* Commentary on episode 10 by Alan Taylor, David Benioff and Dan Weiss. More of the same.
* Character profiles for Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Catelyn Stark Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow, Khal Drogo, Ned Stark, Petyr Baelish, Robb Stark, Robert Baratheon, Sansa Stark, Tyrion Lannister and Viserys Targaryen. The actors and actresses who portray the characters chat about their characters. Show clips accompany their interviews.
* “From The Book To The Screen”- A featurette in which David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and George R.R. Martin chat about adapting the book series to television.
* “Creating The Show Open”- A featurette about the creation of the brilliant opening title sequence.
* “Creating The Dothraki Language”- Linguists will get a kick out of this extra feature.
* “The Night’s Watch”- A featurette about the Brotherhood, the wall, the characters, etc.
* “Making Game Of Thrones”- A typical making of featurette with cast/crew interviews, set footage, discussions about themes, the cast, etc.
* “Anatomy Of An Episode”- A featurette about episode 6.
* “Complete Guide To Westeros”- An exhaustively in-depth interactive Blu-ray feature about the Houses, lands, and 7 Kingdoms.

March 14, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Very good information. Saved to boomarks!

    Comment by Game of Thrones Online Free | April 3, 2012 | Reply


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