Thursday, 20 February 2014

Game of Thrones (2011-Present) Series Review

Game of Thrones Poster
Title: Game of Thrones
Writer/s: David Benioff, D. B Weiss 
Season/s: 3
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Sean Bean, Jack Gleeson

It's the most wonderful time of the year, my friends! Better than Christmas, certainly, is the return of Game of Thrones, for another season! Being such a huge fan of the show, I simply can't wait for the next season, hitting us in April. In anticipation for the next big season, I decided I'd construct a review on the previous seasons, and how I view them. Well, here you have that very review, in all it's glory!

Game of Thrones is based upon the books written by George RR Martin, a brilliant man, to say the least. At the writing of this review, I've read the first book, and a small amount of the second, and I can say that they are masterful pieces of work; every page fills you with anticipation for the next, and even at quieter moments, the story sticks personal and strong. And, not to mention, the plot twists and notorious deaths! Martin is now quite famous for his killing of popular or minor characters, seemingly out of the blue. Martin manages to leave small hints of someone's fate, without throwing you the bone. Instead, he bides his time, before hitting you over the head with some shocking twist that will leave you crying, laughing or yelling at the book. It's a way of writing that I enjoy; where the characters are always in peril. Now, with all these twists and deaths, it is quite astounding that David Benioff and D. B Weiss managed to convert these huge books into 3 coherent, faithful and intelligent 10 part seasons, all with some brilliant moments. Whilst a few moments and deaths here and there part from the books for a short while, the writers never stray too far from the source material, and that's what really makes Game of Thrones into something of it's own; it's based upon a fantasy book, with huge scale, yet despite those factors that normally would ruin a television series, Game of Thrones certainly is not crippled. It rises to the challenge of creating a haunting, dark, yet grand series, that has spectacle wherever you look. For a television series, that is certainly not a common trait. 

In Game of Thrones, we are thrown into the mythical land of Westeros, a place where kings bicker and war for the throne that lies in King's Landing, the hot capital of the seven kingdoms of Westeros, that lies in the South. King Robert Baratheon sits the throne, after not 15 years ago he rebelled against King Aerys Targaryen II, also known as The Mad King. Robert's right hand man, known as the King's Hand, Jon Arryn, has died, when we appear in Westeros. Robert decides to seek out Lord Eddard Stark, who is Warden of the North, the cold region of Westeros. Robert comes to Stark's home in Winterfell, and asks of him to come down to King's Landing to rule by his side as the King's Hand, and Eddard agrees, after some convincing from his wife Catelyn that he was needed to do some investigating down South, for her sister. Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, to the East, Daenerys Targaryen is being married off to a brutal warrior in Khal Drogo, leader of the horse warriors, the Dothraki people. She and her brother, Viserys, intend to take back the Iron Throne in King's Landing; the throne that they were stripped of as Targaryens, by Robert Baratheon. From these points, a plethora of characters, both noble and highborn, and poor and lowborn, attempt to kill and destroy each other, all in the hopes of achieving the crowning glory; the Iron Throne.

On an acting front, 99% of the cast delivers, with a few exceptions at various points. The main character for the first season, Eddard Stark, is played by the great Sean Bean, who is absolutely brilliant. The already deep character that was invented by Martin is given further depth, thanks to Sean Bean's likability. He's incredibly easy to root for, and makes for a wonderful protagonist. Emilia Clark plays Daenerys Targaryen, and for the most part she gives some really awesome performances. There are a few scenes here and there where she lacks range and menace where she is meant to, yet these are outshined by her so many captivating, personal moments. Mark Addy is amazing as King Robert Baratheon, and perfectly encaptures the crude, vulgar man that makes us all laugh so often. Jack Gleeson is the actor who gets barely a mention, despite his wicked, sinister performance as the cruel and evil Joffrey Baratheon/Lannister, whom is heir to the Iron Throne. He really gives one of the best villainous performances I've ever seen; you just love to hate him! Lena Heady, from 300, who plays the plotting and calculating Queen Cersei is wonderful, and Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf, is sublime. His chemistry with Jerome Flynn, who plays Tyrion's companion Bronn, is some of the best that I've ever seen. It's wonderful to watch their witty banter that never seems to get old. The real stars here, to be blatantly honest, are the younger actors. Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, the youngest, ratty daughter of Eddard Stark, is incredibly relatable and fun to watch on screen, and gives one of the best performances on the show. Sophie Turner, who plays the frustrating Sansa Stark, gives an equally powerful and brilliant performance, despite her young age. As you can certainly see, Game of Thrones is very much an ensemble piece, and it works entirely in it's favor. No other show on the air right now has a cast near the enormity of Game of Thrones, and it's one of the best aspects of the show. The acting here is truly sublime, for the vast majority of it's running time. 

The locations for the show are immersive and amazing, to add to the already beefed out cast. From Malta to Iceland, the location scouts have certainly succeeded on finding vast, beautiful locations that have all the details fitted out before the crew even arrives. Malta and Croatia serve as two of the many locations that were chosen to serve as backdrops and sets for scenes set in King's Landing, and they both allow us to seemingly drift into this world. They both represent the hot, humid conditions that Martin described King's Landing to be within his books, so on that level, they certainly succeed. When we move to the great ice Wall in the North of Westeros, we get to see the vast landscape of Iceland, which is surprisingly one of the most majestic locations we see in the entire show. All the lighting is well done, and it really conveys that cold, harsh feel that the North is meant to have. The location scouts need to get a pat on the back, because I don't think I've seen such great landscapes and backdrops for television or film, since Lord of the Ring's fantastic New Zealand scenery. That is high praise worth giving.

When it comes to such a large beast of a project like Game of Thrones, it can be incredibly difficult to deal out time towards all the main players in the show; and believe me, there are a damn lot of them. The first season boasts a staggering amount of individual story lines, not all of which directly impact upon the others, which can make for a little bit of confusion as to what's going on with who if we had different writers and directors. Fortunately, the directors and writers all handle the complex task of transferring so many stories into coherent episodes perfectly, and it makes for an interesting television show. We have Daenerys Targaryen over the Narrow Sea, not even on the same continent as our other main characters, and yet she is an incredibly vital piece of the puzzle that makes this story so involving. The rest of the main characters and story lines are spread over a vast area; Jon Snow, the bastard of Eddard Stark, goes to the Wall in the North, which holds out strange magical beings and wildings, all of whom aren't to make passage into the seven kingdoms. From Snow's story line in the most far North of the kingdoms, to Sansa Stark's story line that takes place in the South. All the story lines may be set out over vast distances, yet they still contain some resemblances; all are vying for, or are a big part of maintaining control, order and power over the kingdoms of Westeros. It's all a struggle of power that we witness in Game of Thrones, all of which allow a number of brilliantly diverse, yet similar story lines and goals. Ultimately, it's a brilliant feat that everything has been transferred so well in the scheme of things. If one story line had have lost focus, the entire show could've been ruined. Fortunately, though, Weiss and Benioff have written the show as to not let that happen. It makes for intelligent and captivating story telling that truly works. 

Game of Thrones is a spectacle not to be missed, one that demands your attention, and receives it. It's grand, brilliantly written, vast and acted to perfection. The standard of television fantasy has risen thanks to Game of Thrones, and that is surely for the best. The next season of Game of Thrones is sure to be good, and I truly hope you can tune in!

Junkie Score: 100
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