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1,106 of 1,191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex, Brutal, Smart And Sophisticated--A Fantasy Epic Geared Toward Adults Proves HBO Does It Best
Few shows have been more eagerly awaited than the arrival of HBO's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's masterful and massive epic "Game of Thrones" (the first in a series). As the books have progressed, however, faithful followers have cried foul as promises have yet to be delivered. But no matter where you stand in that controversy, there is little debate to the majesty...
Published on May 19, 2011 by K. Harris

82 of 99 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Your disc organization is bad and you should feel bad
Please keep in mind I'm rating the product and not the series as a whole. The series is wonderful, the blu-ray on the other hand, is a poorly designed train wreck.

There are 5 discs for 10 episodes. The first disc contains 2 episodes and special features. The second disc contains 3 episodes and special features. The third disc contains one episode and special...
Published 12 months ago by Rayn

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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Use Disc 1 Menu to Select Episodes, March 18, 2012
R. Wolfe (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
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The series is phenomenal (and true to the book, as others have noted). Rivals Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, it's that good. Don't doubt it. There are plenty of other rave reviews to convince you on here.

The real reason for me to write this review is for the sake of those with a blu ray player that has trouble with the apparently overly complex menu system. A lot of folks are having trouble even getting the discs to load, especially on the later discs. It is not confined to any one brand machine, though some do better than others, and it seems inconsistent at that (you're not guaranteed to have trouble with these discs).

It appears the workaround is to load up disc 1 and then choose the episode you want from there; it asks for the appropriate disc and you eject disc 1 and insert the one you really wanted to watch. It's a bit of a pain, but it seems to work, and it beats the heck out of waiting on and on, staring at a black screen wondering if the disc you want will load up on the first, third, or fourth try or at all. Actually takes far less time, even after waiting through the HBO ads I can't seem to skip at the start of disc 1.

That stated, I still give this set a 5-star review, because even with this annoying flaw, it's still that good. And beautiful on blu. Do not hesitate to purchase this set--the extra features on the blu ray set are just as well done. Rarely do the extras turn out to be so integral to an experience, and rarely do they meet, let alone exceed, your expectations.

Can't say enough good things about this set; just use the menu from disc 1 to load all other episodes on the rest of the set, and you're all good. (Actually, once you have a disc running, you can choose any other episode on that disc from that disc's menu without going back to disc 1; it's getting the darn things to load up initially that is the issue.)

I hope this helps anyone who has been frustrated or was wary because of hearing the discs were buggy or something.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex, Brutal, Smart And Sophisticated--A Fantasy Epic Geared Toward Adults Proves HBO Does It Best, March 6, 2012
Few shows have been more eagerly awaited than the arrival of HBO's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's masterful and massive epic "Game of Thrones" (the first in a series). As the books have progressed, however, faithful followers have cried foul as promises have yet to be delivered. But no matter where you stand in that controversy, there is little debate to the majesty and quality of the novel "Thrones"--an almost instant classic in the adult fantasy genre. Multi-layered and ambitious, this sprawling tale charts a powerful story of intrigue, political machinations, and violence amidst the brutal landscape of a nation divided. It is not a production you could approach half-heartedly. To do justice to the novel's intricacies required a massive cast, extensive period sets and costumes, lavish effects and a focused and intelligent screenplay. Well, creators David Benioff (a top notch novelist himself--check out City of Thieves) and D.B. Weiss were up to the challenge and the astute HBO has once again backed a winner. Make no mistake, this is no cheesy kid's story--this is dark and relentless entertainment for people who enjoy quality programming.

At the heart of "Game of Thrones" is the Stark family. Living in relative isolation, patriarch Sean Bean is called to assist the King when a vacancy opens up due to suspect causes. Suspicions have fallen on the King's wife (Lena Headley) and her twin brother (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and there may be further nefarious acts in store for His Royal Highness. When the Stark's young son witnesses something he should not have, a violent act that will have long range repercussions occurs. This, however, is just the jumping off point for a tale with numerous dimensions. There are the exiled Targaryen siblings, a brother and sister who have a claim to the throne and hope to retake the power seat by aligning with a barbaric and powerful tribe of warriors. Bean's illegitimate son figures prominently as well, as a guardian on The Wall preparing for imminent danger. There are so many other peripheral characters and story lines, it would be impossible to delineate them all concisely. There are assassination plots, vigilante justice, court intrigue, various sexual escapades, vicious barbarism, unseen monstrosities, plenty of wolves, family drama, and a dragon egg or two.

Through it all, there is a recurrent theme that "Winter is Coming"--a threat that poses a menace and a danger that may be unavoidable. This show is not for the faint of heart, and should only be considered for age appropriate audiences. As an HBO production, the screenplay doesn't shy away from the gritty violence that this time period and life style would necessitate. I, for one, appreciate the authentic feel to the drama. This show is also not for the casual viewer. It unfolds at its own pace, much like a good novel. It requires both patience and attention to really appreciate just how sophisticated and complex this tale is. It is a grown-up and smart piece!

The show looks absolutely fantastic. Technical aspects of the production are as good, or better, than any comparable feature film. The cast is also uniformly excellent. It would be impossible, again, to highlight everyone in the cast that deserves a special mention--so I'll limit my accolades to Peter Dinklage. As Tyrion Lannister (the black sheep brother of Headley and Coster-Waldau), Dinklage steals just about every scene that he is in. Funny, sardonic, and wise--this Imp (as he's called) has a terrific knack of putting things into perspective. Dinklage has had many great roles in his life--but this is a performance of true star wattage and it netted him plenty of awards including an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor! He is one of the best things in this great presentation. I truly admire and recommend "Game of Thrones" because it never panders. It requires your active participation in the narrative to fully appreciate how well constructed it is--and any show that treats me as an intelligent human being deserves recognition in this age of formulaic TV. Watch it--and read the books (Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings especially are monumental)! KGHarris, 5/11.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Game of Thrones in 1080p and DTS, March 7, 2012
Dan (United States) - See all my reviews
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I wont waste time going into the story. You can see plenty of that in the other reviews.

The Blu-Ray is excellent and takes advantage of the format more than any disc I currently own. The picture is flawless with bright colors and a life-like image. You will notice details you didn't during the original broadcast airing. For example, the scenes in the crypt were sort of dark and hard to make out during the original airing have been lightened up a bit. You can see more details of the statues of the Stark ancestry.

The DTS audio track is amazing! Your side channels will get quite a workout. The sound is immersive, but not overbearing. I could crank the volume up fairly loud and it still would sound perfect. I have a 7.1 surround sound system, and there was one scene early in the first episode where a raven comes flying in from the rear to the front that startled my cat and I. I simply wasn't expecting that sort of detail in sound.

There are quite a few extras. The one that really stands out is the in-episode guide to the Seven Kingdoms. When you turn this feature on, a side menu with four icons appears over the picture. Don't worry, you can make it transparent so it's not blocking the scenes. The first icon brings up a list of characters that are currently in the scene and will give you a bit of information about them when you select them from the list. The second icon gives you the current location, also with a bit of information. The 4th icon takes you to the complete guide where you can access all of it's content from a single menu.

Then you have the third icon, the History icon, and this is the most interesting. Periodically, when a character mentions something from past history, it will flash. When you select that icon, you will see a list of history items, and the one that was just "unlocked" will be selected. Press this, and you're taken to a short animated video segment explaining the historic moment the character just mentioned, narrated by one of the characters in the story. Sometimes its the same historic moment from another viewpoint; so not only does it give you history, it gives you historical perspective from the different houses. After the history video, it brings you right back to the episode where it continues. Most of this history is in the narrative of the books, and so I think this was a very clever (and well produced) way to get that narrative back into the hands of the viewers. It makes this world even richer than it was when we first viewed the series.

I also feel that watching episodes back to back makes the series much enjoyable and easier to understand. This show is dense with characters, history and plot. So having to wait a week meant having all these details fade before the next episode. I feel like I appreciate this series even more now that I own it.

Finally, I actually received my set on Monday, one day before release the street date, when they had guaranteed release day delivery. I guess that's one of the perks of being a Prime member. Kudos to Amazon for their great service. :)

Great series. Outstanding reference-quality Blu-Ray. Definitely not to be passed up if you like the series and own a Blu-Ray disc player.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much T&A, February 27, 2014
Jean B. (St. Louis, MO) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Game of Thrones: Season 1 (DVD)
I read the book, "Game of Thrones" and was totally disappointed when the author failed to close each storyline (character) with something that resembles what professional writers are expected to do. I thought I'd borrow the DVD series at the library (did the same for Pillars of the Earth before I purchased it) and was double-disappointed. Maybe I was born too soon for this kind of film but I do like fantasy/science fiction. What I don't like is repetitive sex for the sake of titillation. I find repeated sexual acts beginning a A and ending at Z boring after an hour or so. Giggling sex slaves and prostitutes spreading their legs added nothing to the story line and sure didn't improve the dialog. Both the story and dialog were inconsistent and the transition between locations and characters was clumsy. There were two characters well-acted in the film. The dwarf role actually had something to say and I came to admire the courage he showed in accepting who and what he was. The girl-child who preferred sword fighting to dolls came in a close second. I admired her courage to do what she loved and stick with the training. I've read the other reviews and I think we watched different films and read different books. The violence was way too graphic and the sex/nudity was way too frequent. Pillars of the Earth presented the same issues but once the tone was set and the reader/watcher knew how crude the times were, the writer got on with the story and it was rewarding and easy to follow. I may be old fashioned but I like to see a little justice for the underdog and I want to good guys to win. Game of Thrones failed on both counts. If I want to see this kind of gratuitous T&A I'll go to a porn site. If I want to see the good guys come in last, I'll watch the evening news.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Excellent, March 15, 2012
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This review is from: Game of Thrones, Season 1 (DVD)
It's hard to know where to start with reviewing a series this complex. The complexity itself is certainly part of the draw, from the intricate worldbuilding to the tangled plots to the exquisite set and costume design. But here are a few points worth noting:

1) This is grimdark fantasy at its finest. As such, sympathetic characters will almost never make decisions that lead to good results for themselves, no matter how much sense that decision made at the time based on the information they had available. Viewers are advised to take this into account. Really, just expect that everyone is going to suffer horribly, get maimed, and then die tragically, and you'll get to occasionally be pleasantly surprised. (Or unpleasantly surprised, when it comes to a number of people who don't bite it in season one, whose deaths we're all eagerly waiting for.)

2) Characters spout exposition at the drop of a hat. A lot of hats get dropped. The exposition is all marvelous, mind, but this leads to a lot of As You Know Bob and monologuing. HBO has thoughtfully provided lots of gratuitous female nudity to accompany most of this exposition ("Look! Here come the Exposition Whores again! It must be time for someone to discuss character and setting background!"), which viewers will find either endearing or annoying depending on how they feel about gratuitous female nudity. There's not nearly as much male nudity as you'd expect.

3) The production values are stunning. Every set and every costume and every shot is a work of art. The opening credits alone are breathtaking. A lot of it is breathtaking works of art where everyone is covered in mud, wearing brown, and probably half-naked (if female), but credit where it's due. Trying to watch The Tudors after seeing this series first gave me the uncomfortable feeling that the king of England was being filmed while standing in someone's hastily redressed living room or backyard. The world of Westeros comes alive, in this series, with all its gritty grimness.

4) The DVD version has an odd glitch at times where it'll keep flashing subtitles briefly on the screen long after the subtitled scene has ended. Go figure.

5) The acting is excellent. The plot is excellent, even if it depends heavily on Murphy's Law at times. The characters are mostly complex, though some villains are just outright villainous with no redeeming features whatsoever. It's very grey-and-black morality. People who like that sort of thing will love this series. People who do not like this sort of thing probably will not.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Game of Thrones - "The Soprano's in Middle Earth"., June 11, 2011
This review is from: Game of Thrones, Season 1 (DVD)
Having never read any of the "Song of Ice and Fire" series of fantasy epic books by George R . R. Martin's (with the fifth about to be released) has not proven a significant problem in following HBOs epic serialisation. Granted approaching the television series did require some care since the pre fanfare on Sky cast it as sort of "Lord of the Rings Lite" not least with the presence of Sean Bean. Happily this is not the case. For one "Game of thrones" is largely free of huge set piece battles, it also requires real patience since it is a series that slowly unfurls it glories through multiple plots and all kinds of political skullduggery. This is high fantasy for Machiavelli fans since "Game of thrones" has a "Il Principe" quality to it as rulers struggle to maintain or gain power through a mixture of the methodical exercise of brute force, deceit and downright treachery. Indeed some have suggested that it not so much Gandalf the Grey as James J. Gandolfini from the Sopranos.

It is in addition it is beautifully filmed, has incredible sets and you almost shiver with the chill of Winterfell and the ancient Ice Wall. But at the heart of this series is tremendous characterization and intriguing plots which gradually weave together to great effect. And as with most HBO series this is a very liberal sprinkling of sex and violence, thus if you don't like this sort of thing please don't buy it.

No review could do justice to all the characters so lets pick out a few. Bean is of course very solid as Ned Stark and so to is Michelle Fairley as his wife Catelyn. The emerging star of the Stark family however is the wonderful young actress Maisie Williams as their daughter Ayra who somehow dominates the screen everytime she comes on and grows in importance as the plot line evolves. Their primary enemies are the Lannisters who are a mixed bunch. For the life of me every time Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) enters the series I can help but think of "Lieutenant Templeton "Face" Peck" (Dirk Benedict) from the A Team! That said this family contains the two real stars of the series the beautifully twisted and power hungry English actress Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and the utterly sublime Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister who brings new meaning to the term "poison dwarf". Cersai is the archetypical power behind the throne, cruel and bent of gaining power. She is beautiful but twisted and not in the least anxious about incestuous relationships , murder and deceit if they will seal power. Baddies always have the best lines and a classic is her lecture to Starks daughter which is a lovely piece of sarcastic realpolitik. As she questions "Do you have any notion what happens when a city is sacked, Sansa? No, you wouldn't, would you? All you know of life you learned from singers, and there is such a dearth of good sacking songs." As for Dinklage his part of Tyrion the dwarf is an acting masterclass. He plays the part of this "half man" as a lecturous, whoring, rude, cunning and often hilarious character with such aplomb that he steals every scene and you feel almost guilty for liking him quite so much. His scenes at the prison at Eyrie or with the Mountain Clans of the Vale are some of the best as his survival instinct kicks in and he outmanoeuvres his capturers. Fantastic stuff and other honourable mentions should go Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo the powerful and violent horse lord and his surprisingly resilient wife Daenerys Targaryen played by the lovely Emilla Clarke.

"Game of thrones" is made up of a predominantly British and Irish cast who demonstrate that our two little islands have talent to spare. It is series which more than lives up to advanced billing and HBO will thankfully be filming a second outing shortly particularly as the ominous threat of "winter coming" and all sorts of viciousness from the other side of the Ice Wall looms large. All in all it's a great series and should secure a prime position on the shelf near the Wire, the West Wing, the Sopranos and your other big box sets. Recommended without hesitation or deviation.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We who presume to rule must sometimes do vile things for the good of the realm.", March 13, 2012
H. Bala "Me Too Can Read" (Recently moved back to Carson, California, or as I call it... the center of the universe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Game of Thrones, Season 1 (DVD)
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." Frankly, I'd rather play the game of Jenga; the repercussions are less dire. When you hear the term "transcendent television" being bandied about, you must break out that grain of salt. Except that GAME OF THRONES does fit the phrase. It deserves all the plaudits. I've finally caught up with this show, and I am astounded with how good it is. Big ups to HBO for going all in with fantasy writer George R.R. Martin's sweeping saga of warring dynasties and dark magic beyond the border. It's a hell of an undertaking. I'll be emptying out my bin of adjectives.

George R.R. Martin has a knack for making his readers care for his characters, and this seamlessly translates onto the screen, by virtue of exceptional writing, superb production values, and a scintillating cast. The thought and labor that went into the exquisite show opening alone informs you that the showrunners are not effing about.

The canvas spans geographies and numbers a sprawling cast. In a world in which summers span decades and murderous winters can last a lifetime, powerful noble families play the game of thrones. In the chilly north, the undermanned Night's Watch diligently patrols the ancient Wall, safeguarding the realm from demonic elements that stalk the darkness beyond. Except that there's been nary a sighting of these fell creatures in many decades. The Night's Watch, long since fallen on hard times, nowadays tends to be composed of felons, knaves, and vagabonds.

While much of the story takes place in the Seven Kingdoms and focuses on the power struggle between the honorable Starks and the conniving Lannisters, things are developing in the East, in the grassy plains of Essos. There, the son of a deposed king hungers for what once was his inheritance, to the extent that he sells his petrified sister to the warlord of the fierce Dothraki, a clan of nomadic horsemen, in hopes of marshalling an army. From the first episode, ominous clouds of war hover over the Seven Kingdoms.

I can't recall a recent show that's gripped me so from jump. Showrunners/head writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss invest these ten episodes with humanity and amazing clarity. This is a remarkable feat, given the complex characters and dense mythology and the many interweaving plot threads and the huge chunks of exposition. This being a faithful adaptation of Martin's novel, you can't sit easy. Favorite characters may or may not break your heart, may or may not make it to Season Two.

Credit the writers but also credit the actors for bringing their roles to vivid, full-blooded life. I dunno, maybe it's the British accents. Love them, hate them, but each part is nuanced, each character not altogether noble, not altogether depraved. Excepting the vile Prince Joffrey; I really hate that kid, all praise to young Jack Gleeson for eliciting such emotion. I didn't think I could sympathize with Lena Headey's scheming Cersei Lannister but there are moments in which she demonstrates an aching vulnerability (which she then promptly masks). Sean Bean - or "poster boy," to quote one of the showrunners - lends marvelous gravitas to his lead role of Eddard Stark. But, to me, the ones who really stand out are the misfits and outcasts. I love, really love, the clever dwarf prince Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Eddard Stark's feisty tomboy daughter Arya Stark (star-in-the-making Maisie Wiliams) and Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Dinklage so well-deserved his Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

Lastly, we are so lucky that GAME OF THRONES ended up on cable. It it had landed on one of them regular networks, it's probably canceled by now. As it is, Season Two can't have come soon enough. To echo one and all, GAME OF THRONES is a rousing triumph of style AND substance and a dazzling psychological drama. It is magnificently realized and stunningly visualized. And those direwolves are just too damn cute.

This impressive DVD set is boss! It collects all ten episodes of Season One and comes with five discs. The bonus features:

- "Complete Guide to Westeros" - a comprehensive and interactive break-down of the Lands and Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, including character profiles
- "Making GAME OF THRONES (00:30:00 minutes)
- "From the Book to the Screen" (00:05:14 minutes)
- "Creating the Show Open" (00:05:05)
- "Character Profiles" - the cast chats about their roles (00:30:41)
- "The Night's Watch" - an indepth look at the brotherhood of men who patrol and guard the 700-foot ice Wall (00:08:05)
- "Creating the Dothraki Language" (00:05:26)
- 7 Audio Commentaries from the cast & crew (including Lena Headey's awesome - and occasionally blue - commentary)
- Pamphlet w/an episode guide, a family tree of the Houses, and a map of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Liked the Books Don't Miss the HBO Series, May 15, 2012
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Having read the books years ago when they first came out I was skeptical of the HBO series. The original Game of Thrones books are a complex rendering of a world in which four noble families vie for rulership (or 'The Iron Throne') of the land of Westeros. Ned Stark and his family are the primary characters (among a few others) to whom the reader/viewer attaches.

The HBO series was created with great integrity and such perceptive and delicate handling of the characters, the plots and sub-plots (I understand that George R.R. Martin assisted with much of the screenplay), that I went from skeptical to thrilled by the end of the first episode.

This is NOT a show for the faint of heart or for the young; the violence is brutal, shocking and (at times) heart-rending. One of the things I like best about Game of Thrones is the realistic portrayal of human nature. The social complexities inherent in life and death, love and hate, politics and religion are all exhibited with breathtaking honesty by the actors.

This is an adult show that respects the viewer's intelligence and titillates, hints and implies without spelling anything out. The acting is superb, the characters are multi-dimensional and realistic. The special effects are mind-blowing. In short, it is a well-done approximation of the world created by George R.R. Martin in his Game of Thrones books. If you liked or loved the books this is one time that you will also like the screenplay.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Be Fooled!, March 7, 2012
This is no television series! This is a EPIC 10 hour long movie adventure!

Oh and do yourself a favor and read the books after you watch season 1.

I dare say that this series might end up being one of the best of all time when it's finished.

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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Game of Thrones, March 6, 2012
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What is Game of Thrones? It is the Godfather, the Sopranos, West Wing, the Spice Channel, Braveheart and Excalibur all thrown into one beautifully produced HBO series. I haven't enjoyed a story this much since the original Star Wars saga 30+ years ago.
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