Game of Thrones, the most-watched HBO original series and best-selling TV on DVD title for the past five years, is once again releasing in collectible Steelbook packaging on Blu-ray. Following the release of Steelbook Seasons 1 and 2 this past fall (see our giant review here), the collection continues, with seasons 3 and 4 releasing in a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set with the revolutionary new audio technology Dolby Atmos (more about that is discussed down below in a couple of places). Game of Thrones Steelbook Seasons 3 and 4 will be available on June 7, 2016. Read on to learn all about this fourth season re-release in collectable steelbook packaging.
The steelbook sets feature art designed by Elastic, the agency responsible for the series’ Emmy Award-winning opening credits. Each Steelbook showcases a specific location that is significant to that season and includes usable magnets on packaging featuring Game of Thrones sigils and symbols. The icy landscape of Castle Black and the Wall–where the brothers of the Night’s Watch fend off an army of wildlings from the far north–graces the packaging of season 4 including a crow and Jon Snow’s sword, Longclaw as the featured magnet.
In addition to all of the bonus content from the previous Blu-ray sets, the Game of Thrones Steelbooks mark the first time a TV on Blu-ray title has been released with the revolutionary new audio technology Dolby Atmos. The Blu-rays feature a newly remixed Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which places and moves sounds and music anywhere in the room, including overhead, creating a captivating experience that brings entertainment alive all around the audience. With the new Steelbook set, fans can hear Daenerys’s dragons swoop past them and feel the soaring score rise and fall around them. There is a catch though. To experience Dolby Atmos at home, Dolby Atmos-enabled AV receivers (may I recommend the one I have here) and additional speakers are required; however, Dolby Atmos soundtracks are fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment and will automatically play in the best possible way.
Below is the original Blu-ray review published on January 31, 2015 over here. New content for this special steelbook release can be found interspersed throughout.
Game of Thrones Blu-ray reviews are very intimidating to write about. Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of ground to cover here. Do you take the high road and skim over everything without spoilers in fear or ruining it for anyone reading that has not seen the fourth season yet, or do you grow a pair with the assumption that your parents are the only ones on planet Earth who have yet to experience the epic awesomeness of Game of Thrones and everyone else just wants to find out all they can about this February 17th HBO Blu-ray release? I’m going to err for the latter as I boldly set out to accomplish two things here within this Blu-ray review, recapping what Season 4 is all about and more importantly, candidly capturing everything about this MUST-OWN Blu-ray set.
Let’s see, where do we even begin? How about how Season 4 of the hit HBO series broke ratings records and even topped The Sopranos to become the most popular show in the network’s history? Does that tickle your fancy? It does mine! It was also nominated for 19 Emmy awards including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Lena Headey). Game of Thrones is also one of the best-selling TV on BD/DVD titles in each of its years of release.
We already all know the history how Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series so let’s tackle all the players here now. The fourth season of Game of Thrones features returning cast members Emmy and Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister), Aidan Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish), Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Diana Rigg (Lady Olenna Tyrell, Emmy-nominated for her role), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Conleth Hill (Varys), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Sibel Kekilli (Shae), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Rory McCann (Sandor “The Hound” Clegane), Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Snow), Carice van Houten (Melisandre), Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Jojen Reed), Nathalie Emmanuel (Massandei), Ciaran Hinds (Mance Rayder), Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell), Ellie Kendrick (Meera Reed), Kristian Nairn (Hodor) and Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy). Wow! That was a mouthful! And guess what? Those are only the returning cast members. There’s some new ones for Season 4 to cover too. I think those deserve their very own paragraph.
So here we have a set of new faces for Season 4. They include the likes of Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell), Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand, Oberyn’s paramour), Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Lord Mace Tyrell), Michiel Huisman (Daario Naharis, a mercenary ally to Daenerys), Yuri Kolokolnikov (Styr, a wilding chief) and Hafour Julius Bjornsson (Ser Gregor Clean, a.k.a. “The Mountain”). Now that we have all the seemingly endless names out of the way, let’s talk about what all goes down in Season 4, shall we?
Season 4 finds the Lannister family still holding onto the Iron Throne. However, new and ongoing threats from the south, north and east threaten to tip the scales. While Stannis Baratheon rebuilds, Daenerys Targaryen continues to grow her armies, freeing slaves. Meanwhile the arrival of the Lannister-loathing “Red Viper of Dorne” poses a more immediate danger to them. The men of the Night’s Watch find themselves overmatched against the advances of Mance Rayder’s army of wildlings. Little do they know that they are being trailed by an even more formidable foe: the undead White Walkers. That’s just Season 4 from a high level. Are you ready to dive in deeper with me?
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
If you have not seen Season 4 of Game of Thrones yet and you want everything to be a surprise, I suggest you skip down to the audio/video sections to see how everything looks and sounds here. Plus I give you a glimpse of all the special features you’ll find here and just when you think it does, it doesn’t. The buck doesn’t stop there. Oh yes! Brian White’s exclusive unboxing pictures prevail down below too. So if you don’t want to spoil anything, scroll down now! Otherwise, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
Just like the unbelievably shocking episode “The Rains of Castamere” in Season 3, rest assured Season 4 has it share of equally mind-blowing moments too. Who can ever forget where Tyron’s fate is decided in “The Mountain and The Viper”? Tragically for me, I lost one of my favorite characters on the show, the tyrant King Joffrey Baratheon. I had little time to weep though as the bombastic Episode 9 (“The Watchers on the Wall”) came barreling fiercely towards me and in usual Game of Thrones fashion, the action, thanks to my man Neil Marshall, was bombastic as ever. In fact, I don’t know what was more shocking to me, the death of Joffrey, or seeing Jon Snow tenderly hold the limp and lifeless body of his fallen love, Ygritte, passionately in his arms as he rocked her back and forth during the fiery conclusion of the battle within Episode 9. That one scene, as tear jerking as it was, had to be one of the most beautiful scenes ever in the show and for all I cared, Season 4 could have ended there because all time was stopped in my world as I looked on in heartbreak at Jon’s loss.
Of course, that’s not all that happened in Season 4 and you’d be gullible to believe me if I said it was. LOL. No, as usual, the show runners did their absolute best to not only account for and further develop all the endless major characters and subplots in the show, but they also went out of their way to attract and attach you to brand new ones, no matter how long they planned on them sticking around for. Hodor! And of course, there’s still more than enough sensual moments and scenes of gratuitous nudity to go around, for which the show is famous for, including a brother and sister doing the boom boom too. If nothing else, the conclusion of Season 4 brings about the culmination of heightened story arcs for everyone still alive and vowing to take control of the throne, no matter if they are a frontrunner in the effort or a supporting player caught in the moments. Everyone has an endgame and by the conclusion of Season 4 you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment for them all. Death by toilet! Say what?! However, that’s not to say that Season 4 doesn’t end on a wonky moment or two, because it does, at least for me. What were those zombie ice skating skeletons and what’s going on inside that tree? I guess we’ll have to wait and see in Season 5, huh? Truth be told, I used to be rooting for Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, but now I find myself curiously rooting for the underdogs, the heartbroken bastard son, Jon Snow, and the hopeful revenge that Sansa Stark may set out upon. Can you tell I have not read the books? Please don’t tell me what happens next! Speaking of that, check out the awesome sauce Season 5 trailer here!
- Episode One: Two Swords (writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by D.B. Weiss) – Tyrion welcomes a guest to King’s Landing while at Castle Black, Jon Snow finds himself unwelcome. Dany is pointed to Meereen, the mother of all slave cities. Aya runs into an old friend.
- Episode Two: The Lion and the Rose (writer George R.R. Martin, directed by Alex Graves) – Tyrion lends Jaime a hand. Joffrey and Margaery host a breakfast. At Dragonstone, Stannis loses patience with Davos. Ramsay finds a purpose for his pet. North of the Wall, Bran sees where they must go.
- Episode Three: Breaker of Chains (writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves) – Tyrion ponders his options. Twin extends an olive branch. Castle Black isn’t safe, and Jon proposes a bold plan. The Hound teaches Arya the way things are. Dany chooses her champion.
- Episode Four: Oathkeeper (writer Bryan Cogman, directed by Michelle MacLaren) – Dany balances justice and mercy. Jaime tasks Brienne with his honor. Jon secures volunteers while Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor stumble on shelter.
- Episode Five: First of His Name (writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by Michelle MacLaren) – Cersei and Tywin plot the Crown’s next move. Dany discusses future plans. Jon Snow embarks on a new mission.
- Episode Six: The Laws of Gods and Men (writer Bryan Cogman, directed by Alik Sakharov) – Stannis and Davos set sail with a new strategy. Dany meets with supplicants. Tyron faces down his father in the Throne Room.
- Episode Seven: Mockingbird (writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by Alik Sakharov) – Tyrion enlists an unlikely ally. Dario entreats Dany to allow him to do what he does best. Jon’s warnings about the Wall’s vulnerability fallon deaf ears. Brienne follows a new lead on the road with Pod.
- Episode Eight: The Mountain and The Viper (writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves) – Mole’s Town receives some unexpected visitors. Little finger’s motives are questioned. Ramsay attempts to prove himself to his father. Tyron’s fate is decided.
- Episode Nine: The Watchers on The Wall (writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by Neil Marshall) – Jon Snow and the rest of the Night’s Watch face the biggest challenge to the Wall yet.
- Episode Ten: The Children (writers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves) – An unexpected arrival north of the Wall changes circumstances. Dany is forced to face some harsh realities. Bran learns more of his destiny. Tyron see the truth of his situation.
Just like my Blu-ray review of the third season found here, things are flawless in the audio/video sections once again. I can’t find a damn thing to nitpick about with this HBO Blu-ray set. That’s an awesome feeling to write about too! So let’s take a closer look at how things “look” here.
- Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Clarity/Detail: Things are so vividly clear here that I kid you not, I was able to make out and clearly read text out of an onscreen manuscript on my 55″ HDTV screen. That’s when you know you have a winner, winner chicken dinner on your hands! The outdoor scenes literally pop, sizzle and dazzle your eyes while other environments are rendered with the utmost of accuracy such as sharp detail in snowflakes, stitchings in clothing, fabric textures and more. Even frozen wood beams in my beloved Episode 9 glisten with pristine beauty.
- Depth: Equally impressive is the depth of field here. And tell me, how could it not be? Have you seen the size of the scale in which the sets are constructed here? Even inside castle interiors and oh hell the outside forest exteriors, your eyes can look on and on out at the vast, seemingly endless space between the foreground and the minute objects in the backgrounds. That’s production value, baby!
- Black Levels: The black levels for me were all deep and inky throughout.
- Color Reproduction: Here’s where Game of Thrones truly shines on Blu-ray. From the earthy tones and hues to the contrast in fire against the night sky, everything looks spot on awesome and accurate with vividness and brightness baked in whenever the scene warrants it.
- Flesh Tones: The flesh tones were all rendered natural and accurate to my eyes. I have nothing negative to report on here.
- Noise/Artifacts: Unless my old eyes are failing, I didn’t see anything here that would negatively impact your viewing experience in the way of ugly artifacts, noise, specks or anything else derogatory.
Like the video section up above, I believe you’d be hard pressed to find anything to b1tch, whine or complain about here with Game of Throne‘s audio presentation.
- Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos 5.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French Dolby Audio 5.1, Latin Spanish Dolby Audio 2.0, Castilian Spanish Dolby Audio 5.1, German Dolby Audio 5.1, Italian Dolby Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Latin Spanish, Castilian Spanish, German, Italian SDH, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
- Dynamics: So tell me people. How accurate do you like you Middle-aged sounds of war to be? If you have OCD and want the best like me, then you’re in luck here! The sounds of swords clanging and wars raging never sounded better for a premium television series set on the Blu-ray format. The swooning score will sweep you under too!
- Low Frequency Extension: Look no further than the Neil Marshall directed Episode 9 to deliver the LFE goods from the drum beats of war to the screams of the mammoths, the action in Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season takes center stage thanks to the bass infused within this audio presentation.
- Surround Sound Presentation: Let’s put it this way. My dogs were frightened by the surrounds here. When the horns in Castle Black sounded they all leaped from their slumber on the couch and immediately went into a barking frenzy not knowing what the hell those sounds from behind them were. However, that’s not all! The score infects the rear channels as equally as the action does too from the clanging of swords and other weapons to the multitude of arrows flying overhead. This one picks a fight with rival Blu-ray action movies.
- Dialogue Reproduction: The dialog is all loud and clear. However, it’s up to you to understand. As you and I both know, Game of Thrones is very heavy dialog driven. Get used to it!
So like I mentioned way up above, in addition to the marketing ploy here that is new collector-style packaging the main attraction here is the fact that Game of Thrones is the very first television series on the Blu-ray format to arm itself with Dolby Atmos, the most immersive and interactive way to enjoy a movie in the privacy of your home theater. Why watch a film when you can be part of a film? That’s the added benefit that Dolby Atmos gives you here. You are now smack dab in the middle with all the other parties vying to claim the iron throne for themselves. Who will win and lose? You better fight if you want to survive!
- One of the best references I have found on the Internet explaining what Dolby Atmos is can be found in a FAQ here brought to you by the good folks at Pioneer.
- Another great reference I found in regards to Dolby Atmos speaker set up can be found on Dolby’s website here.
If Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season‘s package feels a bit lighter and thinner to you compared to last year’s set (review here), that’s because there’s no DVDs enclosed. I say good riddance. Who needs DVDs anyway? Not I! This is a Blu-ray set for crying out loud. It’s made for adults. DVDs are for children. We don’t want no stinking DVDs. Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about everything we have to work with here in Extras section, complete with exclusive unboxing pics down below of everything you’ll physically find here. Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season is packed with exclusive new bonus content including roundtable discussions, on-set interviews, audio commentaries and brand new animated histories giving fans hours of extensive, never-before-seen material. There are two features that are Blu-ray exclusives, meaning you won’t find them on the stinking DVD set of the television series. They are the In-Epsiode Guides and Histories & Lore. HBO also provides you with a Digital HD redemption code to enjoy the entire fourth season anywhere you want, and best of all, it works for both UltraViolet and iTunes. You have to love that!
So what I decided to do down below is not only list and dissect all the extras you’ll find in this 4-disc Blu-ray set, but also let you know on what discs you can find them on as well.
- In-Episode Guide (Discs 1-4) – A selectable in-feature resource that provides background information about on-screen characters, locations and relevant histories during the episodes.
- Histories & Lore (Disc 4, HD) – Here you get the chance to learn about the mythology of Westeros as told from the varying perspectives of the characters themselves. And are you ready for how much knowledge and wealth is within here? Well let’s see. It’s mind-blowing to me and covers all of the following told through voiceovers on top of illustrations and animation: House Martell, House Baelish, Dragons, Poisons, The Bastards of Westerns, The Iron Bank, Robert’s Rebellion, Sellswords & Hedge Knights, The Wall, The Nations of the North, The Kingsguard – Jaime Lannister, The Kingsguard – Bronn, The Maester’s Chain, The Death of Kings, Valyrian Steel and Justice of the Seven Kingdoms.
- Behind the Battle for the Wall (Disc 4, HD, 37:11) – Here we follow the cast and crew as they create the most ambitious battle to date. This 37-minute documentary explores the challenges of putting together one of the series’ most intense episodes, with never-before-seen material. It’s the most “giant” episode ever in Game of Thrones, Episode 9, where things always get bat crazy every season. The filmmakers, the mastermind of Neil Marshall, the actors and the stunt team talk about how it was so much larger than Episode 9 in Season 2, “Blackwater,” and how the planning of this VFX-wise is absolutely epic. This one was worth the price of admission to me from the making of the mammoths with giants riding them and the 400-foot green screen wall to the fire, fight scenes, character losses and whatnot. Wow! What impressed me the most was the uncooperative weather and how they shot through the rain and then removed the rain out in post production. Say what? Yes, you heard me right! This extra was amazing!
- The Fallen: A Roundtable (Disc 4, HD, 29:37) – Writer Bryan Cogman sits down with a few of the many cast members who meet their demise in Season 4, including Jack Gleeson, Rose Leslie and Charles Dance. From first learning of their deaths to shooting their final scenes, this 30-minute feature will shed light on what it’s like to live-and die-in the Game of Thrones world. It was very interesting to see Jack talk outside of his onscreen character and joked about how he had to learn to ride a horse in the first season. Honestly, this one is probably my second most enjoyable extra here. I loved hearing the actors recount their experiences on the show such as their first appearances, death scenes, favorite moments as well as fan encounters.
- The Politics of Power: A Look Back at Season 3 (Disc 1, HD, 25:02) – Here we get to revisit all the brutal events of Season 3 to see power shifts that define Westeros at the start of where we are at with this Blu-ray set, Season 4. This recap is accomplished with footage from Season 3 (duh) and interviews with the cast members discussing the events in the previous seasons.
- Bastards of Westeros (Disc 1, HD, 7:16) – Showrunners David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and author George R.R. Martin discuss the role bastards (i.e. Jon Snow) play in the Seven Kingdoms and how they are treated differently by geographic regions. There seems to be a lot of them in this show. And by bastards I don’t mean an unpleasant or despicable person. Oh no! I mean a child born out of wedlock, such as Jon Snow, probably the most famous bastard on this show.
- New Characters & Locations (Disc 1, HD, 7:39) – Here we explore the new locations, societies and cultures of Season 4 as the cast and George R.R. Martin chime in with footage of the new “stuff” being discussed here.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD, 3:05) – There’s a Play All option here or a choice to watch the two deleted scenes, “Bornn and Shae” and “Dany Missandei”, individually.
- Season 4 Blooper Reel (Disc 4, HD, 2:02) – Lots of funny faces, dancing and line flubs can be found here. Peter Dinklage definitely takes center stage in this one and I’ll let you find out why on your own. Long story short, it’s humorous to see these outtakes when this show is usually so serious in tone.
- Audio Commentaries – This one is kind of self-explanatory because we all know what audio commentaries are. However, what you didn’t know was that there are a total of 11 commentaries with cast and crew including showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Pedro Pascal, Aiden Gillen and more! For your convenience I have broken them all out below as to what episode, disc number and who appears on what audio commentary track. Please note that Episodes Nine and Ten have two commentary tracks each while for some reason Episode 3 gets a big goose egg. I have no idea why that is, but nonetheless I’m sure you’ll enjoy all of these as much as I have.
- Episode One (Disc 1) – David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Pedro Pascal
- Episode Two (Disc 1) – Jack Gleeson, Natalie Dormer, George R.R. Martin, Alex Graves
- Episode Four (Disc 2) – Michelle MacLaren, Robert McLachlan
- Episode Five (Disc 2) – Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams
- Episode Six (Disc 3) – Alik Sakharov, Bryan Cogman
- Episode Seven (Disc 3) – Aidan Gillen, Kate Dickie, Bernadette Caulfield, Chris Newman
- Episode Eight (Disc 3) – Deborah Riley, Michele Clapton, Anette Haelmick
- Episode Nine (Disc 4) – [Commentary 1] – Kit Harrington, Rose Leslie, John Bradley, [Commentary 2] – Steve Kullback, Joe Bauer
- Episode Ten (Disc 4) – [Commentary 1] – Rory McCann, Gwendoline Christie, Alex Graves, [Commentary 2] – Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
And now it’s time for my exclusive unboxing pictures of Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season Steelbook Collectors Set on Blu-ray. I love doing these photo shoots so I hope you find what you’re looking for down below here and most importantly, enjoy!
Here’s the front of the Blu-ray collectors set still sealed.
Here’s the back of the set still sealed.
Now we’re ready to play outside the box!
Here’s the magnet up close and personal.
Here’s the front cover of the steelbook case that houses all the magic.
And here’s the rear of the steelbook case. There’s not much to see here.
Last but not least here’s the internal guts of the steelbook set. Two discs are housed on the left side and three discs reside on the right spindle and yes, unfortunately they are very difficult to get out.
I’m actually going to steal from myself and copy how I ended my Season 3 Blu-ray review last year. I think it was a grand way to end it in going out on top like the great John Elway did with his second ring before calling it quits. I know this one’s a long one, so I appreciate you hanging in here with me and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your time traversing through this review. As you can see above, I tried my best to make it as interactive as humanly possible. However, there’s just only so much you can cover before you say you just need to experience it for yourself. With a Blu-ray box set as massive as this sometimes all you can do is be as robust and detailed in your reporting as space allows. Thankfully, space is not an issue around here, but hopefully you’re picking up what I’m dropping so let’s do a quick recap here.
What does Season 4 of Game of Thrones offer you on the Blu-ray format other than the fancy steelbook housing? Well I’m glad you asked because I can think of three main reasons why you need to hit that pre-order link below. Ready? Here we go!
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 the 9th episode of this season that always promises 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 (see screenshots above).
3. This one is quite simple. You know you want to help support our site so we are able to kep it running smoothly and efficiently and able 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 this one!
Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season Steelbook Collectors Set doesn’t come out in retail stores until June 7th, 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.
Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season
Steelbook Collectors Set