Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season

| March 12, 2016

*This review will contain some minor spoilers for Game of Thrones. Read at your own discretion.

“There is only one war. Life against death”, an utterance by the Red Priestess, Melisandre, in this past season of Game of Thrones and yet this idea echoes through the entirety of the TV show thus far. The series has come a long way and now in this fifth season, we find ourselves stretched to far corners of the lands of Westeros and containing a massive cast and a plethora of plotlines to wrestle with. With each season dramatically changing the status quo, this season managed to wrap up as many storylines, as well as catch up to author and creator, George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels. Many fans have taken issues with the liberties that happened this past season, even though the series has taken plenty of liberties already with this television adaptation. While there are a few minor elements that aren’t as strong as what has come before, this fifth season of Game of Thrones lays an incredible foundation as to what’s to come, as well as gracefully concluding long standing plotlines that make it all the worth while.

This season highlights the typical areas of King’s Landing, Winterfell, Mereen and a few other locales that fans have been accustom to, but we now find ourselves in two new areas that make for great world building and character development, but also stumble ever so slightly. In Bravos, we have Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) falling further into the abyss that is revenge. Her path to obtaining vengeance upon her father’s behalf has led her into many different areas and scenarios in the House of Black and White, which make for her story to be one of the most compelling this season. On the flip side of revenge, we have Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), who wishes for Lannister blood, on the behalf of her recently slain husband, Oberyn Martel (Pedro Pascal). While the evil deed’s that she embarks upon, with the help of Oberyn’s daughters, the Sand Snakes of Dorne, are understandable within the grasp of Game of Thrones, all of their stakes and actions feel much more hollow than any of the other characters and plotlines. Maybe they weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been and maybe we just didn’t get to see as much of Dorne and its inhabitant’s as needed, but those portions felt much more loose than the rest of the season. In regards to many of the other storylines within the series, the stakes couldn’t be higher for the likes of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and even Cersi Lannister. All of the existing storylines flesh out brilliantly and add many more layers to both the characters and plotlines of Game of Thrones that make it essential TV viewing.

 

GoT-Season 5.2

 

The video on the Blu-Ray’s for Game of Thrones comes in an HD 1080p, AVC encoded transfer, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. All of the previous sets of Game of Thrones had amazing transfers and the video for season five exudes the same top-notch quality that HBO is known to put into home video releases. With there being various locales that span across continents, it’s important that people know where they are at any given time. Not only do you get this from the impeccable production design, but the video encode is just gorgeous. Colors are rich and balanced, as well as the level of detail in the picture, that showcases a majestic video transfer. The audio on the disc is presented in a variety of audio sources, which include an English Dolby Atmos track, a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as a series of French, Polish, German, Spanish and even Czech tracks, that are either 5.1 or 2.0. A majority of my time was spent back and forth through the English 7.1 and 5.1 tracks, which offered a beautiful amount of fidelity. Obviously, the wider 7.1 track, offered a robust aural experience, giving both battle sequences larger set pieces an incredible amount of immersion through their sound design and mix. The 5.1 English track is a pleasant mix down of the 7.1 track, but the wider surround field offered so much more, even though it’s just the addition of two more channels.

The extras for this fifth season of Game of Thrones offers less than previous seasons, yet still manages to round out the pleasant presentation of this boxed set. The two-standout features are  “A Day in the Life” and “The True History of Game of Thrones” offers insight in terms of context for events in the TV series, as well as what it takes to create a series of this magnitude. “A Day in the Life” follows an entire production day of the series, across three continents, which are shooting simultaneously. It shows many of the key players in their elements, as well as showcasing some of the logistical issues that can come up with shooting on location. As for “The True History of Game of Thrones” we have George R.R. Martin himself, as well as a series of historians, that speak on both historical events and people that have inspired both the books and TV series. There are also episode commentaries for each episode, as well as in-episode guides, which focus on the areas of history, lore and characters that are introduced.

Game of Thrones is one of the few television series that I watch week to week. Due to the compelling characters, the mature approach to the fantasy genre, as well as the high-end production value that HBO has given this series, it’s always a must watch. While it may be difficult to hop right in from this fifth season, this boxed set continues the high standards that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have set for their adaptation for the “Song of Ice and Fire” series. Highly Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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