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Game Of Thrones - Review

by Silvia

Game Of Thrones - Review

Last night, I settled in to see the first Episode of HBO's new power fantasy fiction show, Game Of Thrones, with a little trepidation. Still, Sean Bean was playing a lead role and with the hope that his character wouldn't be slain within the first 15 minutes, I pressed "play ..."

* Plus update - 8 episodes in and ...

Game Of Thrones - Review 1st Episode

Last night, I settled in to see the first Episode of HBO's new power fantasy fiction show, Game Of Thrones, with a little trepidation. Still, Sean Bean was playing a lead role and with the hope that his character wouldn't be slain within the first 15 minutes, I pressed "play ..."

Before we get started, a word about the actor Sean Bean who first came on my radar in "Caravaggio" and that's telling something. I've always felt since then that his potential to play extraordinary roles has never been really fully explored; I've always felt he's been wasted, that he was an opportunity that simply wasn't taken.

This may well be because the kinds of scripts which could have unlocked the depth of his capabilities were either never written, or if they were, they didn't go into production; either way, I still keep hoping. Perhaps he can have the sort of career Sean Connery had and towards which John Travolta is heading; with a (mostly) wasted youth and getting massively impressive in the dotage. As I say, I keep on hoping ...

Game Of Thrones might or might not be the place for this; I don't know yet, only having seen the first episode, in which Sean Bean plays the lord of the Northern keep who is very Sharp-like, oh, and is called Stark too.

I laid my musings about that aside and so the Game of Thrones begins, with a very interesting and frightening opening sequence that lets us know that the White Walkers are not extinct, and really worth fearing, indeed.

This was filmed well, acted fairly and atmospheric; a good sign.

Then we cut to the title sequence for Game of Thrones and this, I really liked.

Ok so it had a touch of the mechanical about it, a touch of Lord of the Rings, a touch of computer game intro screen, but what the hell - every good fantasy fiction story needs a map, needs its kingdoms, its cities, and what I did appreciate was that considerable effort had been expended in the making of this title sequence. I also liked the music, I thought it was very appropriate and even moving in parts and in general, the sound was very good indeed, another indicator that care was taken in the making of Game of Thrones. I forgive a great many things if I can perceive, feel, an attempt at making something special is being made in a TV show. Nobody's perfect but at least if you're trying, what more can you do?

So on to the story.

I am happy to say that I was completely engaged with it, had no desire to check my email, make a snack, brush my hair, play on my Game Boy, doodle, play guitar or engage in all the many different things that let me know I don't care that much and the TV show has clearly bored me enough so I'm looking for something else to do.

This doesn't  happen too often these days and the very fact that I watched the entire first episode of Game of Thrones without interruption and was entirely absorbed by it is high praise indeed.

There were some standout moments. Robert Addy, who plays the king, breezed in with presence and immense vitality; he blew the cobwebs of the fairy tale feel with his arrival and made things real and urgent. Very impressive.

Really enjoyed Peter Dinklage in his role as Tyrion Lannister; a great role, a great opportunity and he took it with both hands (as well as other body parts, to be sure!) and really ran with it. A powerful and edgy performance with a lot of depth, this is a character I shall be watching out for, and an actor as well.

Young British actor Harry Lloyd delivered the "evil quote of the day" with great aplomb and generally oozed all sorts of deliciously evil things as Viserys Targaryen - there is a future hall of famer in the making I'd say. And a more perfect victim than his poor sister could hardly be found ... which brought forth the appearance of Jason Momoa, whose presence I used to enjoy on StarGate Atlantis and in spite of the war paint, was instantly recognised and cheered.

Perhaps it won't be all bad for that poor sister ... only time will tell :-)

I haven't read the series of books on which The Game of Thrones is based, I actually might head over to Amazon and acquire. Or I might not. When I did this with "True Blood" it caused my head to go twisty and three whole series before I'd recovered from it ...

In the meantime, I thought it was a great start, lots of interesting characters and story lines unfolding. It really helps a TV show to be based on a book. Touches like the six wolves just wouldn't occur unless someone really wrote the story, lived in the world for a couple of years and brought that all together in a cohesive sequence of events.

So we've got something that is very promising to me.

A sound story with some nice writing that translates into good words to say for the actors; a production that was done thoughtfully and with real effort and attention to detail; a huge cast of very interesting, divergent and memorable actors, some of which are very good indeed, and lots of, "What's going to happen next?"

This only works if you care about the characters; the author did, it survived the transition to the scripts and that's what makes me look forward to finding out more.

Great start, really enjoyed Games Of Thrones, bring on Episode 2!

Game Of Thrones Review by SFX April 2011


Update:

I've just watched the 8th episode and I'm really super-impressed with the whole thing.

Tremendous kudos to the author of the original book/s for creating a world that is on the one hand very traditional, but on the other hand contains so many exciting characters, unfoldments and surprises.

In other words, this is *really good.*

The characters have real depth and one cares what will happen to them; one admires them in different ways and that's for friend and foe alike. No simple black and whites here, and in many instances there are breakthroughs to reality which so many fantasy endeavours painfully lack.

This is no fairy tale, and I would also like to say that the people who translated this story to a TV show have done an amazing job which must have been very, very challenging in every sense of the word. So many scenes, so many characters, so many locations and it's all working together.

Beautiful, beautiful job by all concerned and THANK YOU, I've been waiting and waiting for something decent to come along. Here it is!

SFX June 2011

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"What do we do when we get stuck? When we have no answers? When there is nowhere else to turn? We do Project Sanctuary. Of course. What else?" Silvia Hartmann