Sep/2018

4K UHD Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 1!

by Gumbercules9000 on Jun 7th, 2018

THE SERIES


HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ series is one of the better series to come out in the last 20 years.  Based on the books by George R.R. Martin, which are called ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’, this series adaptation is top notch in every aspect.  If you haven’t seen HBO’s ‘ Game of Thrones’ or read George R.R. Martin’s novels, then I highly suggest you do a few things.  First, purchase this 4K UHD set.  It will be one of the best purchases you will make this year so far.  Second, set your DVR’s to record the last season coming up in a few months.  And third, get the books, because they are truly a great read.  This is one of the best HBO series to have ever been aired and it will sorely be missed when it’s gone.

Game of Thrones’ (which is the first book out of the Song of Fire and Ice series) tells the tale of a mystical medieval land called Westeros.  The land is filled with warriors, kings, and peasants alike.  There are seven different kingdoms n Westeros with one king ruling over all.  The king who rules all and sits on the iron throne is Robert Baratheon, who does a decent job of keeping the peace with the seven kingdoms.  He falls ill and eventually dies early on leaving the job and duty to his good friend Eddard Stark of the Stark clan in the kingdom of Winterfell.

Once news breaks of the king’s death, all seven kingdoms and outlanders set out to take over the iron throne and rule Westeros, which eventually lead to an all out epic war.  And that is just a miniscule amount of what you will get with this first season of ‘Game of Thrones’.  So not only do you get this vast and rich tale of greed, treachery, and devotion; but you get one of the best complex ring of characters I have seen in a long time on television.  You have Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings) playing Eddard Stark who is the true embodiment of a leader and hero.  He does right by his family and people always.

He does have his imperfections in dealing with all the crooked people and back door dealings in the kingdom, and by the end of the season, you will be in tears in regards to him. Then you have, Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage who just steals every scene.  Tyrion is the brother in law of the King and son of Tywin Lannister who is one of the wealthiest men n Westeros.  Tyrion is a dwarf or referred to as the imp and has a quick tongue for getting out of trouble and loves whores.  Every time he is on screen, he is more likable, even though his family of the Lannisters are terrible people.  He brings to the universe a lot of charm, logic, kindness, and sense.  There is also Cersei (the Queen), Jaimie (a knight warrior), and Joffrey (The prince).

All three of these Lannisters are the true and highest definition of EVIL.  There is not one thing good or redeeming about them, and unfortunately, back in those times, they got away with every thing.  Every time they were on screen, I wished them ill will to the fullest degree.  That’s how good of a job they do in their characters.  There is also Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen who are the rightful heirs to the iron throne but are exiled.  Viserys and Daenerys are brother and sister and want to reclaim their status.  So Viserys has an idea to join forces with Khal Drogo and his people to take on the throne.

Viserys comes off as a spoiled bratty guy who just wants to rule the world and nothing more and is a real asshole about it, where his sister sort of plays as an obedient sibling to anything he says.  At least at first she does, but time shows, that Daenerys is not one to mess with for she is the daughter of the dragon.  Literally.  There are literally a few dozen other major characters that I could talk for days about on their complex lives and loyalty and betrayals, but you get the gist.  Add to all of this, these mythical zombie like creatures who threaten Westeros, and you have just a hint of what ‘Game of Thrones’ is all about.  It truly is an incredible opus of television.

THE VIDEO/AUDIO


The Video: HBO is releasing ‘Game of Thrones‘ Season One on 4K UHD and let’s hope they start releasing the rest of the seasons along with their entire catalogue in the ultra format, because this new transfer is a very good upgrade from the Blu-ray 1080p version. The detail and color look exceptionally good here and are more nuanced than before. The whole first season plays in rather low-lit settings for the most part. When the sections take place in Winterfell, the color scheme consists of blues, grays, and whites for the most part. There are some variations of browns too, but primary colors aren’t seen too much here.

The different shades of browns and grays on the castle exterior walls, as well as the many variations of ice and snow look incredible here. The intense blue eyes of the white walkers at the beginning of the series pierce through everything as well. Other primary colors show up in King’s Landing where the Lannisters live, which is abundant with oranges, reds, greens, and blue skies. It’s as if the whole color palette changes from each location, which is excellent. The blood is naturally red and always sticks out well. Black levels are deep and inky without any evidence of crush and the skin tones are all natural too.

The detail has an uptick with facial features, showcasing each individual hair on the actor’s faces as well as the dire wolves. The wardrobe also shows incredible craftsmanship and detail too. Wider shots of the landscapes and structures all look realistic and never heavy on CGI, meaning there is no softness to be seen. The Dolby Vision and HDR10 only amplify all of these aspects to give the best looking video presentation, which does not have any issues. Outstanding image from HBO right here.

The Audio: This release comes with an impressive Dolby Atmos track that fully immerses you into Westeros. I can’t wait until later seasons of ‘Game of Thrones‘ will be released on 4K UHD, because the overhead speakers will explode with sound with flying dragons and the big battles that come with them. The sound effects with this Dolby Atmos presentation are well balanced and more nuanced and have a smoother transition from speaker to speaker when the action sequences take places. Sword clanks and other animal sounds pack a punch with a hefty low end. When rain falls and other ambient nature noises sound off, the height speaker picks them up nicely.

Each noise has great directionality and the ambient noises of many people screaming or talking make it sound like you are at the center of the action. It’s an excellent upgrade for sure. The score is iconic now and sounds great in each scene that adds the suspense and tension in each moment – not to mention the theme song of the show. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow with all dialects. There are no pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills here, leaving this 4K UHD release with great marks.

THE EXTRAS


Audio Commentaries – There are seven audio commentaries in all and feature most of the cast, crew and George R.R. Martin himself.  You’re going to want to watch these commentaries.  So much love and admiration went into this series and it shows.  Every single commentary gives an in depth analysis of  how the show was made including; the sets, an unaired pilot, the opening, the characters, the props, and some very fun and interesting stories from the set.  None of it ever seems boring or dull.  I really love when George R.R. Martin does his commentary because he talks about adapting his own work and he clearly loves it.  Definitely give these a listen to if you are at all interested in the show.  

Making Game of Thrones (HD, 30 Mins.) – I loved this making of  featurette.  It is here you will truly see how expansive and epic this series is and how much went into it.  It shows on set filming and behind the scenes types of tricks.  It also shows cast and crew interviews as well as animal training (which was very cool), and tons of other stuff compacted into a half and hour.  A must watch.

Character Profiles (HD, 31 min) – A total of fifteen character profiles are shown here complete with on set footage and interviews with each of the actors and their take on their characters and how they integrate into the series.  If you are confused by any of the vast array of characters, then watch this.  Very helpful.

From the Book to the Screen (HD, 5 Mins.) – A very brief segment on how the producers adapted from book to screen and how they wanted and succeeded keeping true to the original material.  Very cool.

Creating the Show Open (HD, 5 Mins.) – One of my favorite features.  This explains the birth and execution of the series phenomenal opening piece.  I could watch the opening every day for the rest of my life.

Creating the Dothraki Language (HD, 5 Mins.) – This is also a very brief by very cool segment.  Yes, the actors do speak this foreign language and they had to learn it.  This shows how they created the language and how the actors prepared to learn and speak the language.  No easy feat.  Very cool. 

The Night’s Watch (HD, 8 Mins.) – One you watch the show, you will know what the Night Watch is and how important it is.  This segment talks about the history, the traditions, and duties of this sacred and important task.  Loved this.

Complete Guide to Westeros (HD, 69 Mins.) – One of the coolest features on this disc or any release anywhere for that matter.  This is everything you really wanted to know about ‘Game of Thrones’.  This is available on every disc in this release and is a very complex and all inclusive guide to everything in Westeros.  From the histories and legends, to the characters and families, to the different kingdoms.  The history portion has nineteen stories that dive into  all the lore surrounding the land and people.  They are read by characters from the show and feature some animation and stills to go along with the readings.  The Kingdom section is separated into the different families and houses and have text bios for each character.  Add to that some other readings of the history of each family.  And the Land portion gives you a look at maps and their descriptions detailing all the feature locales in the series.  If you at any time feel lost or want to know more about this show, this is the place to go.  Amazing job HBO did with this treasure trove of information. 

In-Episode Guide – This is a really cool feature available on every disc and every episode.  While watching the series, this guide will tell you on screen what characters and locations are used in the specific scene with their backstories and history.  Very cool and very helpful.

Anatomy of an Episode (HD) – This feature is strictly episode six entitled “A Golden Crown’ and is an onscreen in depth look at the behind the scenes for this particular episode.  Everything is pretty much covered here and is really fun to watch.  Highly recommended.

Cast Auditions (HD, 11 Mins.) – Several actors from the series have their audition tapes here, which is quite fun to watch.

THE ULTIMATE WORD


This 4K UHD release of ‘Game of Thrones‘ is a great upgrade from the standard Blu-ray 1080p version. The new video and audio transfers are both excellent with excellent sound, color, and motion. Nothing looks soft or vague here. It really didn’t on the previous version, but it’s just amplified on this 4K UHD release. The series of course is top notch and one of the best shows to ever be released on television. You’re gonna want to watch this show for sure. There are also tons of extras that were on the previous releases as well. Is this worth a re-buy? Of course it is. This is the best the show has looked and it comes with a digital copy of the episodes. Highly Recommended!

Written by: Bryan Kluger


 

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