“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
This set plays the game and certainly wins. Including bold, collectible packaging, vibrant transfers, and a plethora of bonus features, Game of Thrones Season 1 is the way every Blu-ray should be handled. It is not without a couple of missteps, though.
I won’t delve too much into the content of the actual episodes here. It is a complex show involving multitudes of actors and numerous branching story lines. To even try to summarize this series would lead into spoiler territory and I am not willing to do that. What I will say to those of you who haven’t seen the show, if you liked Lord of the Rings but wanted more sex and violence, this is the show for you. This is not a show for children. I cannot stress that enough. It is a hard-edged fantasy story. It is NOT Harry Potter.
Each episode is extremely well written and surprisingly sticks very close to the original novel it is based upon, Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. After initially watching this series when it aired on HBO, I began reading the novels; I can vouch for the closeness of the material.
The transfers here on the episodes is absolutely gorgeous. As a television series, I did not expect the visual quality to be quite so striking. With the exception of one scene in episode one, which I have learned was shot on 35 MM as opposed to digital, everything is crystal clear.
The audio is also a standout in this set. While this is a fantasy show, it is not a high action show; it is more about political machinations. This is not to say that there are no action scenes, just that a majority of the show is not dependent upon them. The audio is clear and mixed very well. There was never a time where the dialogue was overshadowed by the action. The dialog was always clear and of an appropriate level. There was also never a drastic change in audio levels like some films (I’m looking at you, Super 8! Review coming soon).
This set also boasts a large amount of special features. This is good, but also where my issues with the set come in. The features that are included are documentaries on the creation of the Dothraki language used in the show, a making of featurette, book to screen discussing the difficulties of adapting the novel to a show, featurette on the Night’s Watch, commentaries for certain episodes and more. There are also reportedly 6 ‘dragon eggs’ (easter eggs).
My biggest issue with this set is that every disc boasts all the special features. When you click on one, it’ll tell you to put in the appropriate disc. This is just bad planning. Each disc should only contain the menu for the feature that appears on that disc. So when you look at the features tab, you really have no idea which features are on that disc unless it starts playing. There are also long load times, but that is expected with Blu-ray.
Overall, I would say that this a a great set bordering on phenomenal. There are a lot of special features, great video and audio transfers, and a show that stays close to it’s origins. Other than the complaint about the menus and special features, there should be nothing to dissuade you from picking this up. Do yourself a huge favor and give it a shot.
Blu-ray ***1/2 out of ****
Show **** out of ****