HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Game of Thrones: Season 5
HTS Overall Score:94
America’s favorite serial killer is back with a new season! And by that I mean George R.R. Martin. Yes, the man who can create sweeping epics with the stroke of a pen (even though it’s sometimes a stinking decade between books!) and in that same stroke of the pen kills off just about everyone in the book/series. No one is safe, and nothing is predictable (unless of course you’re read the books). 5 years ago I would laughed in your face if someone had told me that a TV series would have been made of the series. Not only a TV series, but the highest rated TV series in the last 20 years. Sword and Sorcery books are a passion of mine and they hold a dear dear place in my heart, but they have sadly not done so well on the TV screen. Usually fantasy series are cheesy or light, but “Game of Thrones” was something that just would NOT fit that mold. In fact I thought it was an undoable situation. However, HBO has the purse strings and the sheer bargaining power to make something like “Game of Thrones” possible on the big screen, especially since they have very limitations on propriety being a premium cable provider. The only issue was whether the show would be popular and bring in the big bucks that would be required for such an undertaking. Amazingly with George R.R. Martin’s involvement the show has taken off in a way that almost no other fantasy show has ever dreamed of. 5 seasons later the series is going as strong as the day it took off, and the rich source material is being followed incredibly closely, allowing for an amazing viewing experience for the mature fantasy aficionado.
Big changes are in store for Season 5. Winter is coming and with it comes the monsters of the north and of course the incredibly in depth and complicated relationships that the happen between the myriad of interconnected heroes and villains (with varying shades of grey) of the series. Sadly I can’t keep ALL spoilers out of the show, but I do try my best as the shows dense and complicated series of character developments requires SOME spilling of beans or I couldn’t say anything at all.
We’ve always known that George R.R. Martin’s rather LONG time between books will someday effect the TV series to the point where the show is outpacing the novels. It’s been a big worry for some fans and right fully so. If the show outpaces the books will it follow the path of many anime series, where they adapt the source material up to a point and then just make stuff up as they go along? Or will they cut it short or what? Interestingly enough, Martin has stated that he is supplying HBO and the storywriters with his outline for the rest of the series so that they can go ahead and continue the show. It’s a strange arrangement as the show, for the first time, will actually be the predecessor to the novels in terms of new material from Martin. It’s weird sort of “horse before the carriage” situation, but from what I’ve heard Martin will have enough surprises and twists in the novels that just would not fit in a 13 hours TV show, even as dense as the series is.
The complications from last season roil over into this season with the Lannister family in disarray and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) struggling to unite the wildlings his men of the north (to no avail it seems). Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage in the role of a lifetime) is off on a luxurious island where he has stowed away too (in a hysterical turn of events that soon enough turns dark and brutal), and Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) are continuing their incestuous relationship. Surprisingly they take a more serious tone with this one, showing the rocky foundation the two have laid for each other and even some fear over the creation of offspring and the natural health issue that might occur from such an occurrence. With Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) dead, things are in disarray and once again the power of the iron throne is up for grabs and the Mistress of Dragons (Emilia Clarke) is finally making her move now that her dragons are coming into adulthood and her power center is more secure. I hate to leave it at that, but there is so much going on in a game of thrones season that you just CAN’T get to it all or you spoil the ending, or even worse, write a 14 page review that would make a scholar get a headache from the amount of detail. It’s just THAT dense of a series.
This season seemed to play at a bit slower pace than some of the previous seasons, most likely due to the fact that they were hoping to get more input from Martin on the series as the books have run dry to pull from. This is both a blessing and a curse, as the show can take a slight differing change from the steady pace that it has gone on and actually offer some surprises to the readers of the novels. At the same time it also can cause less creative minds to offer input and change the series away from the intended tone as so many other series and shows have done in the past once a writer left or source material ran out. However, with Martin’s input in the show I somehow doubt that will happen, or at least happen as drastically.
Character arcs for many are wrapping in (in a typically Game of Thrones violent manner) and other arcs open up at the right time, introducing new main characters and new avenues of power to contend with. The more mystical side of the show is coming out as the Dragons are gaining age as well as the impending winter that is coming. Some amazing actions sequences are put forth as well as the brutal and bloody knowledge that NO ONE is safe in the show. Especially with another blood soaked finale that will have jaws hanging to their knees and eyes popping out of their head.
Rated TV-MA for Mature Content including violence and nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67361[/img]“Game of Thrones” has always benefited from the excellent use of cinematography as well as great Arri Alexa cameras that capture the medieval setting with sumptuous detail. The show is bathed in a sort of blue/grey color grading that sometimes switches to overtones of gold and amber when the time calls for it. Detail is incredible, down to the period piece costumes as well as the rolling Highland style landscapes that dominate the series. Blacks are deep and inky, sometimes showing some crush, but always impressive. Contrast is soft and balanced, showing natural skin tones that look good in the eerie light of a castle furnishings or out in the wild with Jon Snow. There is a slight purplish hue to the black levels that does look a bit funky at times due to the color grading, but other than that the image is simply spectacular, free from any major digital noise or other artifacting.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67369[/img]“Game of Thrones” brags that this is the first show to sport a Dolby Atmos audio track and that is correct for sure. The first 4 seasons have all been released as DTS-HD MA 5.1 tracks in the past and while seasons 1 and 2 were both RE-Released in Steelbooks with an Atmos track, Season 5 is the first season to come with one out of the gate as a day and date release. For those without Atmos equipment, HBO defaults toe the Dolby Digital lossy 5.1 track so remember to switch to the Atmos track so that you can at least utilize the 7.1 Dolby TrueHD core that it allows which is a big uptick from the 5.1 lossy track. The effects in “Game of Thrones” has always made for an incredible audio experience and the Atmos track for Season 5 is no different. Sound effects pulse through all channel with an amazing sense of ferocity and power. The main theme flows seamlessly through the room pulling in all areas of directionality with its splendor. Dialog is always crisp and clear, while the sounds of battle and mayhem come through the surrounds and high channels with incredible clarity. LFE is deep and powerful, adding weight just about everywhere and in many ways rivaling great blockbuster movie tracks. TV shows are HARD to get sounding great due to the usual lack of budget, but HBO’s deep pockets have made “Game of Thrones” a serious contender in the audio world and for very good reason. A+
• Audio Commentary on Select Episodes
• In Episode Guides
• A Day in the Life
• New Characters/New Stories
• Anatomy of an Episode: Mother's Mercy
• The Real History Behind Game of Thrones
• Histories and Lore
• The Dance of Dragons
• Deleted Scenes
I adore “Game of Thrones” and right fully so. It was taken from an incredible series of books and handled with the utmost respect. Something many shows do not have the privilege of doing. The characters are deep, the intrigue incredible, and the maturity of the show dictates it to a more adult audience than much of the same ilk are intended for. That being said full disclosure makes me give the warning that this is NOT intended for children. Blood, violence, language and nudity abound in the show, however it’s not as over the top and fan service like as “Spartacus” was (as much as I loved that show it was a bit indulgent in that respect). For fans who have watched the last 4 seasons, season 5 is a no brainer and the incredible technical specs of the set make this a must buy. For those of you who have not seen the show yet and can handle some more "R" rated entertainment in a TV show, you owe it to yourself to see if it's your cup of tea.
Starring: Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke
Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish, French, German, English DD 5.1, Spanish, Czech, Polish DD 2.0
Runtime: 559 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 15th, 2016
Buy Game of Thrones: Season 5 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Must Watch
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