Customer Review

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HBO's Immense Epic Returns With A Nation Divided: Complex, Brutal, And Smart Adult Entertainment, December 19, 2012
This review is from: Game of Thrones Season 2 (Amazon Instant Video)
Note: Until the DVD release of 2-19-13 (the show launches Season Three on HBO on March 31), on-demand is only offering these slight previews and tie-ins. Although pleasant enough, I would NOT recommend purchasing them if they have a current cost associated. If you are a fan, it is the type of promotional material you can find for free elsewhere.

Review of Season Two:

When HBO premiered the first season of "Game of Thrones," the highly anticipated adaptation of George R.R. Martin's immense fantasy saga (A Song of Fire and Ice), it was an instant success with critics and viewers. Lush, brutal, complex--this was epic storytelling made for an adult audience that required patience, attention, and commitment. Nominated for thirteen Emmy awards (among many other accolades), "Game of Thrones" proves that TV doesn't have to dumb things down or play to the lowest common denominator. To bring this massive story to the screen, certain liberties were taken with the source material but that's undoubtedly to be expected on a project so large. Thankfully, though, the creators and HBO did not approach things halfheartedly. 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. 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. "Game of Thrones" has all that and much more.

Season Two consists of ten episodes and portrays an embittered and embattled landscape. You might just need a scorecard to keep track of the major players in the early episodes as everyone seems to have a claim on the throne. With King Joffrey's birthright in question, both of the Baratheon siblings think they're entitled to their shot at leadership. Meanwhile, Rob Stark (and clan) continues his campaign against the Lannisters. And several unexpected events make former foes friends and former friends foes. Everyone is divided across the land, and that makes Season Two a particularly challenging event. This is not light viewing. When you settle down to watch an episode of "Game of Thrones," it requires your full attention! But, the show does a remarkable job juggling hundreds of characters and dozens of storylines. It would be impossible to delineate the plotlines completely in short form and I won't try, but this season had many incredibly memorable moments. From supernatural side plots, to an episode devoted to one epic battle (an easy Emmy contender for writing and directing), to the long promised and stunning finale. It seems Winter finally is Coming!

A true stand-out (apart from Sean Bean) in Season One, Peter Dinklage (coming off a Golden Globe and an Emmy win) continues to impress as the Imp Tyrion Lannister. But some of the supporting cast, due to the immense sprawl of the show, have had a chance to develop into richer and more interesting characters. Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, Richard Madden as Robb Stark, Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, and Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon are all given more complex storylines and each is exemplary in taking on the challenge. Emilia Clarke continues to be one of the show's most intriguing characters as Daenerys Targaryen, still trying to reclaim her family's former glory while mothering her darling dragon babies. And Kit Harington, as Jon Snow, just might find out what lurks behind the wall.

Once again, no commentary on the show would be complete without a nod to the technical aspects of the production. The show looks absolutely fantastic. The editing, score, and effects are as good, or in most cases better, than any comparable feature film. In a TV landscape filled with procedurals and reality programming, I'm pleased that HBO has expended the resources to produce something truly unique. "Game of Thrones" continues to be the smartest and best acted program on the air. It may not be for everyone, though, with nudity, language, brutality, and barbarism. But if you love and appreciate quality programming, I found Season Two to be even more ambitious, complex and rewarding than its debut year. The show currently rests at the high peak of the Metacritic scoreboard with 26 professional critics giving Season Two an average rating of 88/100 and it's easy to see why. KGHarris, 6/12.
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