- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French DTS 5.1, Polish Audio Description DTS 2.0, Spanish (Castilian) DTS 5.1, Spanish (Latin American) DTS 2.0
- Subtitles: English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American)
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: TV-MA
- Discs: 5 (5 x Blu-ray)
- Run time: 600 Mins.
- Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: March 6, 2012
- List Price: $79.98
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(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Based on the first book in writer George R.R. Martin’s sprawling “epic fantasy” series of novels A Song of Fire and Ice, HBO’s Game of Thrones was almost guaranteed to be a success, especially with Martin onboard as one of the executive producers. That the first season remained so faithful to Martin’s own writing makes this fantasy for adults all the better. A gritty and vast world that concerns itself with the realities of medieval times more than it does with magic, Game of Thrones is not fantasy for kids – Harry Potter it ain’t.
Taking place on a fictionalized Earth on a fictional continent known as Westeros, Game of Thrones begins this first season mainly focused on the intrigue between the heads of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and their positioning to lay claim to the Iron Throne in order to rule over the entire kingdom. At the crux of the story is the rivalry between the Starks of the North headed by Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) and the obscenely wealthy Lannisters. When the Mad King is killed by Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Eddard’s old friend Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) ascends to the Iron Throne, Eddard is made Hand of the King, basically the King’s right hand man. A power struggle between the Starks and Lannisters ensues, as Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is married to the King. But, at the root of the troubles is the attempt on the life of Eddard Stark’s young son Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) who witnessed Cersei and her brother Jaime in the throes of incestuous passion.
Making the story ever more ominous are the beginning of rumours that to the north of The Wall, a great structure of ice built to keep out monstrous creatures that has existed for thousands of years and is guarded by a brotherhood known as The Night’s Watch, are the reemergence of what are known as “White Walkers.” Deadly, undead creatures that haven’t been seen or heard from in millennia and hardly anyone believes in anymore. Could it be true? The Stark family motto “Winter is Coming” may hold more truth in it than ever before this time around, in a world where the cold winters last years with long lulls of summer.
Sexy, brutal, and downright addictive, Game of Thrones is mesmerizing in its depth and expansiveness and so true to its literary source without being bogged down in minutia. This is the fantasy drama we have been longing for since Lord of the Rings – and it just may be the equal or surpass it in its efficacy as far as melding realism into the genre.
Game of Thrones looks scrumptious in this Blu-ray edition from HBO Home Entertainment. With an original high definition production on Arri Alexa cameras and an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement, the series looks so good and so organic it could almost pass for a high quality Super 35mm production. The color palette varies from the bluish greys of the north in Winterfell to the sunnier King’s Landing and lush bronze tones of the Dothraki grasslands. The high definition transfer captures them all flawlessly with an awesome amount of detail, picking up the tiniest snowflake or link of chain mail in armor. Shadow detail is nicely nuanced while the darker colors show a great amount of depth.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack from the opening moments shows that it is going to be very engaging. With wide dynamics and mixing that picks up the subtlest winds blowing around the room or the galloping and whinny of horses and clinking of blades either in front of you or off to the sides and from behind, this is a soundtrack to be reckoned with. Dialogue is full and clear with no clipping, highs are airy and natural while lows are big.
Chock-full of extra features that really delve further into the world of Game of Thrones, all features are in high definition, and the commentaries include cast members as well as show creators and writer George R.R. Martin.
- In-Episode Guide – The In-Episode Guide is the same as the Complete Guide to Westros (see below), only this allows you to access the information during viewing, with certain features being unlocked on a per-episode basis. If you don’t find the on-screen icons distracting (and they can be greyed out) then this feature can be helpful for following along in George R.R. Martin’s vast world of characters, lands, and mythologies.
- Audio Commentaries:
- Episode One – with executive producers/writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
- Episode Two – with Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon), and Nikolajj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)
- Episode Three – with Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), and Isaac Hempstad Wright (Bran Stark)
- Episode Four – with writer Bryan Cogman and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow)
- Episode Six – with Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Emilia Clarke) Daenerys Targaryen), Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen), and director Daniel Minahan.
- Episode Eight – with co-executive producer/author of A Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin
- Episode Ten – with executive producers/writers David Benioff & D..B. Weiss, and director Alan Taylor
- Complete Guide to Westros – An interactive compendium of the Noble Houses and lands featured in season one, and the histories that bind the Seven Kingdoms together. Delve into the mythology of Game of Thrones by selecting from three categories, Histories & Lore, Houses, and Lands. This will lead to fantastical narrated animated tales, biographies on the family members and more. This feature is an absolute must for the uninitiated to help follow along with the numerous characters, subplots, and mythologies. It can also be accessed with the “In-Episode Guide” with certain features unlocked on a per-episode basis.
- Character Profiles
- Anatomy of an Episode – Episode Six “A Golden Crown” An In Episode experience that explores the creative minds and colossal efforts behind this important episode.
- Making of Game of Thrones – An exclusive 30-minute feature including never-before-seen footage from the set and interviews with the cast and crew.
- From the Book to the Screen – Executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and author George R.R. Martin talk about the challenges of bringing Martin’s epic fantasy novel to life on HBO.
- Creating the Show Open – An inside look at the creation of the Emmy-winning opening title sequence for Game of Thrones.
- Creating the Dothraki Language – An insightful glance into the comprehensive language created for the Dothraki people in Game of Thrones.
The Definitive Word
After this spectacular opening salvo helping to prove HBO still has its mojo when it comes to original programming for premium cable, one can’t help but hotly anticipate what is to come in the marvelous world created by George R.R. Martin and the series producers for the second season of Game of Thrones. In the meantime, getting this Blu-ray set to catch up or refresh one’s memory is easy to recommend.
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