Sunday, February 16, 2014
Video review: "Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season"
The Red Wedding will crush you – if it hasn’t already.
Say what you will about author George R.R. Martin and the HBO adaptation of his epic fantasy series, "Game of thrones," but they’re willing to take big storytelling chances. This may not come as a surprise to viewers who watched the show build up northern lord Eddard Stark into the main protagonist of the first season, only to see him bowed before an executioner’s ax.
That narrative brashness continues in season three, which sees the entire continent of Westeros split into various warring factions. It’s full of surprises and unexpected character development, with fan favorites brought low and the hiss-able Lannister clan seemingly triumphant.
The 10-episode season is actually only the first half of the third book of Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. Like many other fantasy franchises, from Harry Potter to “The Lord of the Rings,” their cinematic counterparts have seen fit to divide the novels up.
While often an act seemingly based on monetary rather than artistic impulses -- *cough* “The Hobbit,” “Twilight” *cough* – here the splitting feels appropriate, given the sheer volume of characters and plot in “A Storm of Swords,” which clocks in at a thousand pages.
Among the primary figures are the dwarf Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), the lone Lannister with any semblance of virtue; Robb Stark (Richard Madden), son of Eddard and now leader of the northern rebellion; Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), the scheming queen mother; her brother and lover, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a knight captured by the Starks; Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), the poisonous boy-king; Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Eddard’s bastard son and member of the Night’s Watch; and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), scion of a deposed royal family who is raising an army across the sea, plus three young dragons.
The denseness of Martin’s storytelling comes through clearly in the HBO series, which captures both the grandness and venality of this rich world. Kingdoms rise and fall, armies are raised and dashed, yet all rides on the intimate dealings of the various noble families and their hangers-on.
This “Game” is for keeps.
As with previous video releases of the series, it is accompanied with a lavish set of goodies, including no less than 12 audio commentary tracks by cast and crew, deleted/extended scenes and more. The DVD also comes with profiles of all the important new characters for season three, featurettes on political marriage in Westeros and the northern wildlings, and a recap of season two.
Upgrade to the Blu-ray edition and you add several neat interactive features, including an in-episode guide, history and lore of Westeros, the rivalries and loyalties between the various families, and an in-depth look at the filming of the episode that includes the Red Wedding.