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Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray Review)

Game of Thrones Season 5 Blu-ray ReviewGame of Thrones is bigger than ever in Season 5.  Don’t believe me?  Try this on for size.  It’s the winner of 12 Emmy Awards (the most of any series in one year) and a Guinness World Record holder for the largest simultaneous broadcast of a TV drama (in 173 countries and territories worldwide).  I won’t even go into all the piracy milestones the show has hit over the years.  You just have to take my word for it, the show is that good.  And guess what?  My must-see to believe, in-depth Blu-ray coverage of the series resumes with The Complete Fifth Season here available at retailers everywhere March 15th.  If you missed any of my former Blu-ray reviews of the seasons, you’re in luck because I have links to seasons 1 and 2 here, 3 here and 4 over here.   This year’s Blu-ray set features a free Digital HD copy of all 10 episodes (iTunes and UV), plus exclusive bonus content including a brand new feature that takes an in-depth look at the story behind the Targaryen civil war, known as the Dance of Dragons.  Without further ado, let’s begin this epic review.

Game of Thrones Season 5

Season 

I hope you’re okay with this, but I thought this would be a fun way to tackle Season Five rather than some long, runoff paragraph that hurts your eyes before you even attempt to read it.  As I said last year and I’ll repeat again, Game of Thrones Blu-ray reviews are very intimidating to write about.  Even though each season only consists of ten episodes, there’s still a lot of ground to cover.  No one says it better than HBO themselves so simply put, Season 5 drops us in the middle of the following powerhouse struggles:

  • At Castle Black, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) struggles to balance the demands of the Night’s Watch with those of newly-arrived Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane).  After all, Stannis is the rightful king of Westeros, right?  You sure wouldn’t think so watching him go down like a chump seasons ago in that epic battle episode.  But what’s all this talk in episode 10 of Jon Snow and the happenings that go down?  Shh…no spoilers!
  • Meanwhile, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) gets an ugly haircut and scrambles to hold on to power in King’s Landing amidst the Tyrells and the rise of a religious group led by the enigmatic High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce).  Like in real life, religion messes everything up in my opinion.  Cersei’s love interest and brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), embarks on a secret mission to rescue their child.
  • Across the Narrow Sea, in the weirdest story of the season for me, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) seeks out an old friend who helped her in the past, but is more mysterious than ever now.
  • Our favorite little fugitive, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), finds a new cause to get behind and also provides us a nice segue into Meereen where our beautiful dragon lady, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), discovers that her tenuous hold on the city requires some hard sacrifices. Duh!  That’s what leadership is all about, is it not?
  • And finally, the notion that “winter is coming” becomes more painfully ominous than ever before as we finally see what everyone dreads about the cold other than the frigid temperatures.  Of course, so much more happens including a very uncomfortable rape scene (the squeamish beware), but I feel this is a pretty good nutshell recap.  Don’t you think?  Of course you do!

What else can I say that hasn’t been said before in any of my gamut of reviews?  Game of Thrones is my Starz Spartacus of fantasy and lore.  Sure some episodes can be burdensome and a tad sleep inducing, but it’s that slow burn throughout each season that reels you in and shocks you with not only events that you did not see coming (provided you did not read the novels), but also some of the most massive and epic action sequences that rival many million dollar budget films.  From giants to dragons, gratuitous nudity to sex crimes, Game of Thrones has a little something for all.  Did they take things too far in Season 5 with that one scene in particular featuring Sansa Stark?  Many people believe they did and as a result I fear what may be censored in the upcoming sixth season.  However, I for one applaud HBO for their boldness.  They could of handled it so much worse.  After all, sometimes we need to feel uncomfortable to really lose ourselves in a story.  If it seems like I’m making excuses for HBO’s risk tasking, whatevs.  I am!  I’m a loyal supporter.  Would it have made it any better if the actor was older?  Think about it.

I mentioned the remarkable action sequences up above, didn’t I?  Of course I did!  What makes Game of Thrones one of the best television shows is its brilliant use of CGI and expansive on location, exotic sets, etc., not to mention the exquisite costuming and makeup jobs.  The production quality is like none other for a television series and is really something all action movies should strive to rival and live up to.  Again, that’s saying a whole lot considering Game of Thrones doesn’t have the budget of let’s say a Spectre.  So there’s a lot to work with here and low and behold that one episode that is balls-to-the-wall hardcore action every season doesn’t disappoint here either.  Those pesky White Walkers FINALLY get some much deserved screen time and you won’t be disappointed at all with this breathtaking battle.  However, that’s just it.  It’s that character development we all crave with this show and the introduction of new, fresh faces to keep us re-invested in the series that HBO never truly lets us down with .  Even in its dullest of moments, Game of Thrones is still exceptionally greater than any other show out there (within reason).  You can take that to the bank and cash it.  Simply put, it’s TV at its finest!

Now let’s talk about the characters real quick before moving on.  The thing I love about Game of Thrones is it’s like 24 or The Walking Dead, no character ever feels truly safe.  That uneasy feeling or tradition if you want to call it that continues here throughout Season 5 as the story arcs blossom and heighten for characters we’ve been following for the past 5 years.  Events and plans are starting to unfold and this sh1t is finally starting to get real with new allies formed, fresh faces introduced and more uneasy, squeamish moments transpire and go down to pave the way for it all.  However, let’s not forget to give credit where it’s so deserved.  It’s the performances and acting chops of these actors that bring these characters to life right off the crisp pages of George R.R. Martin’s lengthy, never-ending manuscripts.  This show may look visually stunning, but without these key performances I feel this series would be quite laughable.  I digress.

So without further ado I list for you the ten episodes below that you’ll find in this Fifth Season Blu-ray collection as well as what disc you’ll find them all on.

  1. “The Wars To Come” (Disc 1)
  2. “The House of Black and White” (Disc 1)
  3. “High Sparrow” (Disc 2)
  4. “Sons of the Harpy” (Disc 2)
  5. “Kill the Boy” (Disc 2)
  6. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” (Disc 3)
  7. “The Gift” (Disc 3)
  8. “Hardhome” (Disc 3)
  9. “The Dance of Dragons” (Disc 4)
  10. “Mother’s Mercy” (Disc 4)

Game of Thrones Season 5

Video 

  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Layers: 4 50-GB Dual Layer Discs
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Clarity/Detail: This series was shot digitally so you better believe things are clear, defined and quite stunning.  From dragon scales to chiseled bricks in castle walls, Game of Thrones on Blu-ray excels in exemplifying detail.  The costumes and makeup are always stunning in this series to behold and take in.
  • Depth: Because of the many, worldly environments in Game of Thrones, some real and some CGI, the vast landscapes are what really draw me in from the armies marching in the war torn forests to crowds Cersei is forced to shamefully walk through, not to mention the one fighting pit scene too.  Truth be told though, it’s really the breathtaking outdoor scenes that do it for me here.
  • Black Levels: Here’s where my review may differ than a few of the others, but you have to take an average of the whole rather than select seasons when grading a series such as this.  The black levels are not perfect by any means, but are you really going to discount the score here because of some occasional exceptions?
  • Color Reproduction: The colors are rich and cinematic in appearance, but don’t be fooled because there’s a lot of tweaking with them too.  However, the scenery is what counts here setting and matching the tonal quality of what’s onscreen like sun drenched ones or battling with cold frost giants on the other side of the tonal spectrum for example.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones looked natural and authentic throughout the presentation.
  • Noise/Artifacts: We already nitpicked on the black levels slightly so yes there is some noise from time-to-time in the shadows, but nothing to ever truly distract you from blissful enjoyment.

Game of Thrones Season 5

Audio 

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible — make sure to select Atmos to get this track even if you don’t have an Atmos setup), French Dolby Audio 5.1, Latin Spanish Dolby Audio 2.0, Castilian Spanish Audio 5.1, German Dolby Audio 5.1, Czech Dolby Audio 2.0, Polish Dolby Audio 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: The audio presentation here is what really makes Game of Thrones a champion when you’re speaking of television on the Blu-ray format.  The dynamics of the TrueHD or Atmos track literally pits you in the middle of everything happening onscreen and changes with each subsequent moment never sounding fake, unpolished or generic.  It truly is marvelous.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE really kicks in and makes itself known during the brutal action sequences, most notably in episode 8’s huge battle scene (no spoilers in case you haven’t seen it yet).
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The surround channels showcase the organic ambience of the series putting you in the middle of every happening.  From swords clanking, armies fighting and dragons swooshing, you’ll enjoy every minute of being stuck in the middle here in this immersive track.  Of course, the middle selection is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck here.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialog is clear, intelligible and prioritized throughout the Blu-ray series.  I have absolutely no qualms here.  Even the quiet whisper moments are understandable.  You gotta love that!

Game of Thrones Season 5

Extras 

When you purchase an HBO show on the Blu-ray format you have to expect the best of the best from the intricate packing of most HBO television sets to the bombastic barrage of special features they hit you with.  I mean that in a good way because who doesn’t like extras, right?  Of course you love extras!  Nine times out of ten, they’re free and unlike the movie studios HBO does not nickel and dime you with different packages offering different bonus content.  Sure there’s retail exclusive packaging offerings and there’s those Atmos equipped sets, but those don’t count towards the point I am trying to hit home.  Rest assured you’re getting the best bang for your buck when you invest in an HBO released Blu-ray set and Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season is no exception to that steadfast rule.  So here we go, more hours of my time invested, in the below extras I have painstakingly carved from my busy day to dissect and go into extreme detail over so you can know ahead of time what you’re getting yourself into if you decided to make this purchase.  However, the real question shouldn’t be IF, it should be when.  Like the last several seasons the Blu-ray package also houses a redemption code for you to re-live all of these episodes in glorious HD on whatever digital format you prefer, providing access to both iTunes and UltraViolet.  Isn’t life great?  It sure is!  And HBO just makes it all better.

  • The Dance of Dragons (HD, 20:27, Disc 4) – Hear the story of the Greens and the Blacks, the Targaryen civil war that led to the downfall of the dragons, featuring surprise narration from notable deceased characters from past seasons over artwork and animations.
  • In-Episode Guide (HD, Discs 1-4) – You can dig deeper into the show with this in-feature resource that provides background information about on-screen characters, locations and relevant histories.  This is pretty cool as every episode contains these and the side menu gives you pertinent information of things going on in particular within the current scene.
  • Histories and Lore (HD, Disc 4) – Here you can learn all about the mythology of Westeros and Essos as told from the varying perspectives of the characters themselves in 14 history stories.  Select Histories feature animations from the show’s storyboard artist, Will Simpson.  They tackle such subjects as The Seven Pointed Star, The Faith Militant, Volantis, Braavos, The Faceless Men, Winterfell and The Lord Commanders.
  • Anatomy of an Episode: Mother’s Mercy (HD, 29:33, Disc 4) – From the early stages of the writer’s room to the final visual effects, here you can see what went into creating “Mother’s Mercy,” the Emmy-winning season finale episode that fans will be talking about for years to come.
  • The Real History Behind Game of Thrones (HD, 18:13 and 22:00, Disc 4) – Watch historians, along with George R.R. Martin, explore the interweaving inspirations of the actual players in the era known as “The Wars of the Roses” and other historical events in this two-part series of interviews with the author.
  • Audio Commentaries (Discs 1-4) – Holy audio commentaries, Batman!  There are a total of twelve audio commentaries with cast and crew spread over the four Blu-ray discs which include David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen, Maisie Williams, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie and more.  Below you’ll find out exactly who, what and where they all are.  Just a side note, Episode 7 is the only one not represented with an audio commentary.
    • Episode 1: The Wars to Come (Disc 1) with Director Michael Slovis, Director of Photography Dave Franco and Ciarán Hinds
    • Episode 2: The House of Black and White (Disc 1) with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie and Daniel Portman
    • Episode 3: High Sparrow (Disc 2) with Production designer Deborah Riley, Costume Designer Michele Clapton and Director of Photography Anette Haellmigk
    • Episode 4: Sons of the Harpy (Disc 2) with Director Mark Mylod, Writer Dave Hill, Natalie Dormer  and Dean-Charles Chapman
    • Episode 5: Kill the Boy (Disc 2) with Director Jeremy Podeswa, Director of Photography Greg Middleton, Iwan Rheon and Michael McElhatton
    • Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken (Disc 3) with Writer Bryan Cogman, Maisie Williams and Tom Wlaschiha
    • Episode 8 Hardhome (Disc 3) with Director Miguel Sapochnik, Stunt Coordinator Rowley Irlam, Kit Harington and Kristofer Hivju
    • Episode 8 Hardhome (Disc 3) with Visual Effects Producer Steve Kullback, Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Bauer and Producer Chris Newman
    • Episode 8 Hardhome (Disc 3) with Director of Photography Fabian Wagner and Camera Operators Sean Savage and David Morgan
    • Episode 9 The Dance of Dragons (Disc 4) with Director David Nutter, Peter Dinklage and Iain Glen
    • Episode 9 The Dance of Dragons (Disc 4) with Executive producer Bernadette Caulfield, Director of Photography Rob McLachlan and Camera Operators Ben Wilson and David Worley
    • Episode 10 Mother’s Mercy (Disc 4) with Executive Producers/Writers David Benioff and D.B Weiss, Director David Nutter and Lena Headey
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 7:59, Disc 4) – A total of four deleted scenes can be found here.  They can be played individually or together.  I didn’t find anything to really rave about here.
  • A Day in the Life (HD, 26:01, Disc 4) – Three countries, hundreds of cast & crew, one epic day. Here in this documentary you can get an inside look at the production process of Season 5.
  • New Characters/New Locations (HD, 7:41, Disc 4) – Here you can explore the new characters, societies, cultures and locations of Season 5.

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Now let me do what I do best.  Bring on the unboxing pictures!!!

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Here’s a shot of the front cover before the plastic is torn off.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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Here’s what the back cardboard sleeve looks like.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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As you can below see the outer shell slides off.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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Here’s what the back looks like after the outer shell is removed.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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This beautiful sight greets you upon opening.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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Let’s unfold things a bit.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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Now let’s really start to open things up.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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Let’s go further.  Haha.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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Here’s the right side of the fold.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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Here’s an obligatory Jon Snow shot for y’all.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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And here’s just a nice shot featuring the Blu-ray set with flowers.

Game of Thrones Season 5

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Game of Thrones Season 5

Summary 

I did this the past two years so why not again.  If Peyton Manning can go out a champion, then why can’t I with this review? actually going to steal from myself and copy how I ended my Season 3 Blu-ray review last year. So instead of being my long, verbose, bumbling idiot I usually am, let’s end this review with a 3-point recap as to why Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season is a MUST-OWN on the Blu-ray format.  Here we go!

The below are essentially three main reasons why you need to hit that pre-order link below.

  1. You are getting one of the most amazing shows on television today in respect to breadth of storytelling, production value, cinematography and acting.  And let’s not forget that one episode of the season that always promises and delivers one one hell of an action thrill ride.
  2. This Blu-ray box set contains 4 Dual-Layer 50GB Blu-ray discs that houses hours upon hours of bonus material not to mention the complete ten episode season in pristine 1080p picture and HD sound PLUS a redemption code for HD Digital Copies in both the iTunes format and UltraViolet PLUS it’s all housed in of the most incredible packages too filled with very nice looking self portraits of the main characters (see screenshots above).  For that $39.99 price tag down below, this is an absolute steal!  Don’t you think?  It’s like HBO is paying you to take this off their hands.  I know, right!
  3. You know you want to help support our site so we are able to keep it running as smoothly and efficiently as possible to deliver robust, kick-@$$ reviews like this, don’t you?  Of course you do and we all at WSB thank you for your generosity, time and support!  Enjoy!

Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season doesn’t come out in retail stores until March 15th, but you can pre-order it here and ensure that it’s on your doorstep waiting for you when you get home from a hard day of work that fateful Tuesday.

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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