HBO's fantasy epic sets a new standard for TV series on Blu-ray
After success in most other genres, HBO has turned its attention on the fantasy epic with this adaptation of the first of George RR Martin’s acclaimed A Song of Ice and Fire novels. And once again the result is a televisual masterpiece that looks set to live up to its literary source material, which takes the standard fantasy tropes and uses them as the framework for a truly adult fantasy saga of depth and complexity.
Picture: How is it that HBO can continually produce Blu-ray versions of its television shows that look better than some studios blockbuster movies do on the format? Whatever the reason, we’re glad it happens because it means that we always rest easy, safe in the knowledge that shows like Game of Thrones will look absolutely great.
Indeed, it’s quite possible that this set’s AVC 1.78:1 1080p encodes are the best HBO has produced to date. The amount of detail throughout is mind-blowing, which is a good job considering all of the fur-lined cloaks and grizzled faces on display. Add to this the beautiful colour reproduction, flawless black level and clean delineation and you end up with a perfect presentation for this remarkable series.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: While undoubtedly a lavish TV production, Game of Thrones can’t compete with the sort of epic visuals fans have come to expect from Hollywood’s own genre offerings. Because of this, a great deal of responsibility for creating a sense of scale rests of the shoulders of the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. So, whether the camera is winding its way through the Lannister camp as the troops prepare for battle, or is trapped in a dingy cell under King’s Landing, the sound design makes creative use of the full 5.1 speaker setup to make these locations come to life. Dialogue and music presentation is first-class as well – even Sean Bean sounds legible for once.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: HBO’s five-disc set comes accompanied by some high-quality bonus features, helping to justify its £50 ticket. There are audio commentaries for seven of the ten episodes, while video-based extras take the form of 15 Character Profiles, a 30-minute Making of... doc, a trio of additional shorter featurettes (looking at the adaption of the book for the screen, the creation of the opening credits and the development of the Dothraki language for the show) and an eight-minute profile of the Night Watch and their role in the show’s mythology.
On top of that there are a couple of enhanced features that make use of Blu-ray’s interactive functionality. Episode six gets its very own enhanced picture-in-picture viewing mode packed with interviews and behind-the-scenes info, while there’s also an interactive guide to the show’s Histories & Lore, Houses and Lands that can be accessed as a stand-alone feature or while watching any of the episodes.
Extra rating: 4/5
We say: HBO delivers a medieval masterclass with suitably lavish Blu-ray boxset for its superb TV series
HBO, All-region BD, £50 approx, On sale March 5
HCC VERDICT: 5/5
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