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Series


Following some boring streaks and a truly bad fifth season, Game of Thrones got its groove back for season six and is now rolling full-force into its endgame with an action, shock, and fan-bait-packed second-to-last/seventh season. I realize I’m getting to this review particularly late in the week, so I’m going to forgo any kind of lengthy analysis and dole out some brass tacks (some spoilers may apply to the next paragraph).

What makes this race to the finish so entertaining is also what makes it trashy and, well, kind of dumb. After enduring snail-paced, repetitive dirges where literally nothing happened for multiple episodes in a row, the showrunners are throwing so many new plot points, character arcs, and unexpected team-ups at their audience that we can’t help but lean back and soak it in with a smile on our faces. I mean, sure, maybe geography and time now have zero relevance on a show that took six goddamn seasons to move one of its most beloved characters (Daenerys, played by Emilia Clarke) and her friends from one side of a map to the other. Maybe Cersei’s (Lena Headey) plan to backstab the heroes doesn’t make any logistical sense (she couldn’t possibly know that Tyrion [Peter Dinklage] was going to show her something that Euron [Pilou Asbæk] could pretend to be afraid of?), but what’s the alternative? An entire episode where explaining away the holes in her plan? No thank you. Again and again, season seven proves that it is worth suspending our disbelief, so long as we’re being placated with a skin-crawling Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys hook-up or an ice-spewing zombie dragon. This may sound sarcastic, but it’s genuinely nice to see Game of Thrones throwing off the shackles of ‘prestige television’ and fully embracing its pop culture appeal. The only substantial, relatively objective issue I had with season seven was the fact that it did nothing to ‘fix’ the go-nowhere Dorn subplots from the previous season. If anything, the speedy dismissal/dispatchment of the surviving Dornish characters proved that the subplots were pointless all along.

 Game of Thrones: Season 7

Video


Game of Thrones is still shot using Arri Alexa digital HD cameras and the seven episode season is spread over three BD50 discs. The 1080p, 1.78:1 transfers look generally the same as previous seasons, aside from minor changes to the colour quality and overall contrast. For a while, every season seemed to get a little more post-production graded than the last, but the series’ cinematographers took a couple steps back around season six, opting for a more natural and eclectic palette. Darker locations and frozen areas in the North are still nearly monochromatic with cold blues being the only hues to pierce the icy whites, but warmer locations, like King’s Landing, are no longer dominated by only three or four hues. There’s a hint of gradient glow to outdoor shots as well as many naturally back-lit shots, which, surprisingly, both add to the already impressive texture. The showmakers continue pushing their luck when it comes to darkness, especially the candle-lit interiors, though the more reliable Blu-ray image offers an upgrade to those obscured details when compared to the 1080p HBO GO stream. There are, per usual, some banding effects throughout and a little bit of blocking noise during those pitch black sequences, but no notable edge haloes or sharpening effects.

Audio


Game of Thrones jumped onto the next-gen audio bandwagon (the first television show to do so) by including Dolby Atmos on re-releases of all of its previous seasons, as well as initial releases of seasons five and six. Season seven also comes preloaded with an Atmos track, thus negating the need for audiophile fans to repurchase it again in the near future. I don’t have an Atmos-ready system, so this review only pertains to the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 core soundtrack. The effect is similar to previous seasons. While battle scenes and dragon attacks stand out as the loudest and most expressive moments, there are plenty of other beautifully mixed moments peppered throughout dramatic sequences. Composer Ramin Djawadi continues to outdo himself with outstanding music.

 Game of Thrones: Season 7

Extras


Disc One:
  • Commentaries:
    • Episode one with director Jeremy Podeswa and actors Gwendoline Christie & John Bradley.
    • Episode two track one with actors Gemma Whelan, Jacob Anderson, and Nathalie Emmanuel. Track two with co-executive producer/writer Bryan Cogman, prosthetics supervisor Barrie Gower, and actor Pilou Asbaek.
    • Episode three with executive producer Bernadette Caulfield, production designer Deborah Riley, and costume designer Michele Clapton.
  • In-episode guides

Disc Two:
  • Commentaries:
    • Episode four track one with director Matt Shakman, director of photography Rob McLachlan, special effects supervisor Sam Conway, and camera operator Chris Plevin. Track two with producer Chris Newman, visual effects supervisor Joe Bauer, and visual effects producer Steve Kullback.
    • Episode five track one with writer Dave Hill, director Matt Shakman, and DP Rob McLauchlan. Track two with actors Liam Cunningham and Iain Glen.
    • Episode six with director Alan Taylor, DP Jonathan Freeman, and camera operators Sean Savage & David Morgan.[list]
    • In-episode guides
    Disc Three:
    • Commentaries:[list]
    • Episode seven track one with executive producers/writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, and actors Lena Headey & Kit Harington. Track two with director Jeremy Podeswa and DP Greg Middleton.
  • In-episode guides
  • From Imagination to Reality: Inside the Art Department (24:26, 21:59, HD) – A two-part documentary that goes behind-the-scenes with the series’ art department. It rather extensive looks at some of the season’s most impressive concept art, set/prop building, and production design, as well as the natural locations used for backdrops.
  • Fire & Steel: Creating the Invasion of Westeros (30:02, HD) – The cast & crew breakdown the season’s biggest sequences, from their narrative and character development to the complicated logistics of visual effects, stunts, and scenes with hundreds of extras.
  • Histories & Lore – Eight semi-animated featurettes narrated by various cast members:
    • The Dragonpit (3:08, HD)
    • The Citadel (2:38, HD)
    • Casterly Rock (3:39, HD)
    • Highgarden (3:24, HD)
    • The Golden Company (2:55, HD)
    • Prophecies of the Known World (4:08, HD)
    • The Hand of the King (4:01, HD)
    • The Rains of Castamere (5:40, HD)

Pre-Order Exclusive Disc:
  • Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion (44:47, HD) – This semi-animated exploration of Westeros’ pre-series history is an extension of the Histories & Lore features available with every season set. I haven’t taken the time to compare it to previous season collections, but I do believe it overlaps quite a bit with those older featurettes. That said, watching this stuff in one go is preferable to pointing and clicking my way through two to five minute clips.


 Game of Thrones: Season 7

Overall


Who’s ready to end this thing? It has been a very long road and Game of Thrones seems to be going out on a highly entertaining note. Some of the fun is at the risk of good sense and logic, but I’d say fans have earned a bit of mind-numbing amusement. This Blu-ray collection looks and sounds as near-perfect as previous seasons (especially those with Dolby Atmos options), but I have to admit that the extra features seem like a slight step back from the last few sets.

 Game of Thrones: Season 7

 Game of Thrones: Season 7

 Game of Thrones: Season 7

 Game of Thrones: Season 7

 Game of Thrones: Season 7
*Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray, then resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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