When was the last time a TV show or movie, really pissed you off? Proper lying in bed enraged, turning over events in your mind. How could they do it? Why? That’s how good Game Of Thrones has been thus far, a scintillating fantasy series prepared to twist its narrative knife so deep, you too will be wounded. In the trade we call it emotional engagement.
While it may not revivify its genre quite as The Wire and Deadwood renewed theirs, there is a gutsy HBO maturity at work in David Benioff and D. B. Weiss’ naturalistic adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s heroin-addictive fantasy books. A tapestry of family grievances sprawl across a pungent Borgias-meets-the-Roses quasi-Euro battleground named Westeros. The series dances like a soap opera, a saga not a plot, good and bad points on a sliding scale. At heart, it’s the Starks (honourable, naive, brunette) versus the Lannisters (ambitious, depraved, blonde).
Martin’s skill is to keep the fantastical at a distance (undead revenants stir behind a 700-foot wall of ice, and dragon eggs accompany an exiled queen) and delight in the rich, violent, unpredictable events. As brought to life, with a tincture of the modern, by the impeccable performances. Special praise to Peter Dinklage’s sardonic dwarf Tyrion, Michelle Fairley’s Stark mother-bear Catelyn, and Sean Bean’s super-Beany silent glower as Ned Stark.
Reviewed by Ian Nathan
Game Of Thrones: Season 1
Released: 01 March 2012
The various solid docs carry a buoyant air of well-earned satisfaction. Of better note are the different commentary teams on seven different episodes. Benioff and Weiss recall being struck speechless by director Tim Van Patten’s (“TVP”) breathtakingly creepy prelude shot in icy, crepuscular light in the Grimms’ forest beyond The Wall that leaves the series pregnant with apocalypse. A cinematic texture was essential to the scope of this tormented world — all hail Northern Ireland, the new New Zealand. The cast vacillate between geeky adulation and ripe factoid. Those are not actual (dire)wolves but Northern Inuit dogs, Mark Addy has issues with “soap on a rope”, and never leave your bacon sandwiches within reach of Bean. Ned Stark was also known to secrete a Twix about his doublet for whenever young Starks flagged. In short, they had a ball. The splendid Lena Heady cuts through any grandiosity with the honed edge of fine British swearing. Indeed, she concocts a salty critical lexicon for Westeros analysis: Lannisters are “blonde shits”; Cersei’s relationship with brother Jamie is “twincest”; and the startling array of lusty love-making is “sexposition”. There’s little anyone can say watching Emilia Clarke, cast as Daenerys days out of drama school, being taken liberally from behind by Khal Drogo, horse lord of the Dothraki. “Lovely girl,” mutters Addy. And not a talk-track passes without praise being heaped upon Ramin Djawadi’s soul-stirring score, or as Heady elaborates over the ingenious living-map credits: “That is just fucking great.”