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House Of The Dragon Season 1 4K UHD Review

“House Of The Dragon” is an underwhelming prequel.  

Set 200 years before the events of “Game Of Thrones,” the Ryan Condal and George R.R. Martin created “House Of The Dragon” is based on George R.R. Martin’s novel “Fire And Blood.”  The 10 episode debut season takes place at a period where Viserys I Targaryen is King. After losing his wife and son, Viserys is left without an heir. He bucks tradition and appoints his daughter Princess Rhaenyra, but that doesn’t stick. He eventually marries the daughter of the Hand of the God (the scheming Otto Hightower) Lady Alicent and the two have children together. Rhaenyra, meanwhile, marries Larnor Velaryon (a secretly gay man and the son of Lord Corlys and Rhaenys Velaryon). Rhaenyra has an affair with the Kingsguard Knight Ser Criston before eventually developing a connection with her uncle Daemon (the volatile brother of Viserys). Rhaenyra also mothers several children. Throughout the season key plots involve Viserys ailing health, a battle against the Triarchy and the Crabfeeder, a new King being crowned, dragons (as one might expect), and a cliffhanger that will surely lead to a civil war.

After “Game Of Thrones” became a pop culture icon, it was inevitable that HBO would build a franchise around it. The prequel series “House Of The Dragon” is the first of several planned spin-offs, but, so far, this series does not compare to “Game Of Thrones” (the good years that is). Perhaps it’s unfair to compare it to a landmark fantasy television series, but this prequel simply lacks what made that series so rewarding. The family in-fighting and jostle for the throne is repetitious, the violence and graphic content is often needlessly gratuitous, the dramatic moments come across more like a fantasy soap opera than anything series, the series reuses the same opening credits theme music (talk about lazy), the time jumps and cast changes are clunky to say the least, the big ensemble cast of characters is often hard to keep track of and the characters simply don’t have the same zest that they did in ‘Thrones.’ Sure, the production values, special effects, costumes and sets are spectacular as one might imagine, but that only takes you so far. Granted, the series could improve in subsequent seasons, but for now, you’re left wanting more than what feels like ‘Thrones’ leftovers.

Going back to the characters, it’s a shame that so little of them make an impression (it’s hard to even recall character names to be honest) as there’s a lot of talent within this series such as Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Needham, and Steve Toussaint. Matt Smith (of “Doctor Who” fame) frequently carries the series on his back as his unpredictable character provides many of the best moments. Paddy Considine gives arguably the best performance in the series as King Viserys. Olivia Cooke (“Bates Motel” and “Ready Player One”) shines as Lady Alicent as do both actresses that portray Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy).

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.00:1 2160p. How does it look? The 4K transfer offers up stunning clarity. This is THE best way to watch the episodes.

Audio Track: Dolby Atmos. How does it sound? Everything from the score to the dragon roars sounds superb with this Atmos track.

Extras:
* Blu-ray copy
* Digital copy
* “Welcome To Westeros”- A brief overview of the show’s plot in the debut season.
* “A New Reign”- A look at the new creative team for this series.
* “Returning To Westeros” explores the approach to making a prequel to a hit show.
* “Before The Dance: An Illustrated History With George R.R. Martin”- The author describes the history and characters.
* “Height Of An Empire” is about the Targaryen empire, the cast and characters, and this era in the timeline.
* “Noble Houses” is all about the houses and families in this universe.
* “Familiar Places” covers the sets, production design, and locations.
* “Return To The Seven Kingdoms”- The longest and most substantial extra is this featurette about how the series came about.
* “Introducing The Characters”- The title speaks for itself.

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December 20, 2022 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , , ,

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