Friday, 24 November 2017

Review: Game of Thrones series 5 (DVD)

Ahem, bit late this, but here’s my traditional review of the last Game of Thrones DVD set I watched. Finally got around to the fifth series. I’d heard mixed things about it, and coupled with a certain event at the end of series four (NB there will be spoilers for the fourth series after this) I was in two minds about it.

It’s also worth knowing that in some parts the TV series has now progressed beyond the books so if you want to read the plot before you watch it, you shouldn’t watch series five until you’ve read the next book.

Initially, the plot did feel a little slow. However, the unfolding of religious events in King’s Landing (which have a particular resonance now, I feel) was extremely well done, living up to the excellent storyline they formed in the books. Without the gradual build-up that plot line would not have had quite the same impact.

The increasing fatalism and horror in the North also had very good conclusions, although, again, it did start slowly.

Daenerys’ storyline remains trapped in Meereen, which is easily the most tedious part of the story. Happily, there are some bright spots which I shan’t spoil, but for the most part it’s all a bit bland.

Of all the plot lines, Arya's is the most isolated, with just one cross-over to the wider world. Fortunately, she's a charismatic character and helped by the return of an old 'friend'. Her sister, of course, continues to have a rough time of it (Game of Thrones could be subtitled "In Which Everything Goes Wrong For Sansa), but I am enjoying Sansa's very substantial character arc.

As is traditional with Game of Thrones, there is high stakes drama particularly at the end of the series, and this is no exception, with the series ending very strongly. Indeed, both episodes nine and ten have this quality, rather than (as has happened before) nine being full of bloodshed and ten mopping it up.

It might just be me, but after the fourth series (and the outcome of the Mountain bursting the Red Viper’s skull) the level of violence and sex does appear to have gone down a notch. Not for kids, of course, but not quite so harsh. I did miss Charles Dance as the menacingly magnificent Tywin Lannister.

As for extras, there are commentaries (often multiple for each episode), and other things. The commentaries, as always, vary quite a lot according to who’s chattering. In general, the later the episode the better the commentary.

The other extras include sections on new locations, as well as perhaps my favourite extra of any series so far: a look at historical inspirations for the characters and events of the programme.

Despite the prolonged gap, I’m glad I got this and rather liked it. Especially looking forward to seeing how future events unfold in the next series.


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