by Greg Spencer
If you’re extremely late to the Game of Thrones cataclysm that has taken over the lives of the majority of your friends like me and you want to start watching before you’re so far behind the curve then the first thing you need to know is is it worth the hype?
Well the short answer is yes. Three episodes in and I can already see my social life dwindling as the swords clash, the battle lines are slowly drawn and the tale of a horde of powerful factions is played out. With the fourth season looming, you really do want to get watching right away and if you have the technology and can spare the expense then definitely go for the Blu-Ray editions as the series looks absolutely stunning in high definition. That’s actually one of the first striking things about Game of Thrones, how tremendous the outdoor scenes come across visually with an obviously huge amount of money being spent on each episode the sweeping landscapes are beautifully filmed.
One thing that is vitally important when getting to grips with the series is remembering the vast amount of characters, there’s a heck of a lot and it definitely feels like the perfect ensemble drama. Luckily the DVD boxset of the first series comes with a character map of the many faces we see and also includes a map of the shows setting of Westeros and Essos. A noticeable aspect of the series is how well developed the characters are and how quickly this is the case, for instance the character of Tyrion Lannister can range from coming across as a cruel and egotistical dwarf to a hilarious man of the people. These sorts of shifts in character development are what keeps the drama flowing episode by episode. The other main thing which keeps you totally captivated are the struggles of power between the various families, Sean Bean plays Ned Stark who’s family we side with against that of King Robert Baratheon who brings with him to Stark’s Winterfell home a whole clan of sadistic and incestuous characters.
The tensions continue to mount and after King Baratheon’s son Joffrey is bitten on the hand by the Stark family’s direwolf, the hostility of the two factions is on a knife edge. Three episodes in and there hasn’t been any huge physical battles yet but the warring families provide uneasiness through the fantastically well written dialogue which is both gritty and humorous. In all honesty Game of Thrones is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, I’ve heard people say that its comparable to Lord of the Rings but this just seems a lazy comparison. Yeah Sean Bean features in it and its set in a time where the armour and the setting feels like its in the same realm as Tolkien’s fantasy epic but here the drama feels more visceral, there’s no quest as such but its as if we’re dealing with the day to day struggles of these characters rather than a more linear journey.
The acting is genuinely amazing at times, especially from some of the younger cast members who seamlessly slot into the ensemble and produce some blindingly good performances. What really is great about the series though (and I’m sure it comes from the books) is how even though there does seem to be a certain amount of good vs evil, it just isn’t as black and white as that. Many of the characters tow the line and show traits of good and wickedness which instead of alienating the audience, makes the drama much more engrossing. Although the character of Joffrey and his mother are two that most will loathe.
The brilliance of Game of Thrones only makes it ever more frustrating to arrive to the party late, however it really is a series that needs to be seen and I could only recommend seeing it as soon as humanly possible because I know fore sure that I want to be caught up by the time season four comes onto our screens, and so should you because Winter is coming.