Game of Thrones: HBO Original Series
|Director:||David Benioff, D.B. Weiss|
Summers span decades. Winters can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plots, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; and all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords, and honest men, all will play the Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones, the first book in author George R.R. Martin’s sprawling fantasy saga A Song of Fire and Ice, serves as the basis for this brawny, lusty series about courtly intrigue and civil war in a sprawling fantasy kingdom. TV and fantasy veteran Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings, Sharpe’s Rifles) leads the massive cast as the warrior-noble Eddard Stark, who reluctantly assumes the role as the Hand of the King after the mysterious death of his predecessor. The King, Robert Baratheon, has leadership of the lands of Westeros, a mythical country plagued by severe, decade-long shifts in weather. His rule is challenged by the exiled Prince Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd), who trades his own sister (Emilia Clarke) for the allegiance of the Dothraki, a savage nomadic tribe led by Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa of the 2011 Conan the Barbarian). A shocking secret kept hidden by Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey, 300) leads to an upset in the balance of power and, ultimately, a challenge to the House of Stark to bring control to the bloodshed that threatens to overtake Westeros.
Fantasy has been a tricky genre for television—the scope required to bring the sweep and imagination to life is usually better suited for the big screen. But Game of Thrones neatly sidesteps the issue by virtue of the quality of the production at every level. Though the series is steeped in fantastic elements, from direwolves to dragons, series creators David Benioff (who wrote Troy and The Kite Runner, among others) and author D.B. Weiss (Lucky Wander Boy) have rooted the drama in the emotional landscape of its characters, which brings the end result closer to Benioff’s humorous description of the show as “The Sopranos in Middle-Earth.” Intricate plotting and direction with an eye for realism by a host of HBO veterans, including Tim Van Patten, Alan Taylor, and Daniel Minahan, underscores that notion, as does its stellar cast, which includes Mark Addy as Headey’s husband, King Robert, Iain Glen as the faithful knight Ser Jorah Mormont, and Aiden Gillen (The Wire) as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. However, the proceedings are handily won by Peter Dinklage’s Emmy-nominated turn as the cunning Tyrion, whose intellect is constantly disregarded due to his size. Of course, viewers can also tune in to simply enjoy the more visceral elements of Game of Thrones, which features quite a bit of medieval-style carnage, as well as an at-times unnecessary level of nudity, which feels like a network decision based on the amount of flesh on display in their other successful shows. Regardless, Game of Thrones is an entirely addictive experience for both fantasy and drama fans alike throughout its debut 10 episodes, all of which are featured on this multi-disc set. —Paul Gaita
It’s hard to think of any more satisfying way to bring the world of George R. R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones to visual life than has been managed with HBO’s acclaimed series. Within minutes of season one kicking off, you get the feel that you’re in safe hands, with a creepy opening that sets the scene for a series with real justification in calling itself epic. The creative team here clearly understand and respect the source material, and yet aren’t afraid to make changes to suit a television production.
Not that you’ll notice it’s a television production. Made with the scope and scale of a major movie, Game Of Thrones look and feels dramatic in scale. Its story certainly is. Centered around the battle for power in days of old, there’s conflict, despair, romance, lust, backstabbing and no shortage of ice, both real and metaphorical. It demands your concentration, but remains accessible. It’s also a strictly adults-only adventure.
As befitting a series of such magnitude, they’ve clearly gone to town on the Blu-ray set. As well as revealing plenty of detail as to the production itself, with making of material and episode guides, there are some brilliant, less obvious features. The Blu-ray exclusively features, for example, an excellent guide to the world of Westeros, who everyone is, the backstory, and the noble houses. You can comfortably lose hours in it.
There’s simply so much depth in the set. Even the commentaries, often quite bland affairs, offer real insight and interest. That it’s wrapped up with a brilliant 1080p transfer, and speaker-shaking audio, is fitting. An excellent, ambitious piece of television, in a Blu-ray set that befits it perfectly.—Jon Foster
George R.R. Martin rewards readers with a vividly real world, well-drawn characters, complex but coherent plotting, and beautifully constructed prose.
Martin’s Seven Kingdoms resemble England during the Wars of the Roses, with the Stark and Lannister families standing in for the Yorks and Lancasters. The story of these two families and their struggle to control the Iron Throne dominates the foreground; in the background is a huge, ancient wall marking the northern border, beyond which barbarians, ice vampires, and direwolves menace the south as years-long winter advances. Abroad, a dragon princess lives among horse nomads and dreams of fiery reconquest.