“Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season” – Blu-ray Review by Matt Marshall

"Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season" (2014) - Blu-Ray Review

Games of Thrones Blu-ray Gets Down and Dirty in Season 3

Once you watch just one episode of HBO hit series, Game of Thrones, it’s so hard not to turn 60 minutes into a full-blown marathon. The third season of Game of Thrones is by far its most ruthless set of 10 episodes to date. So sit back and watch the densest web of backstabbing, ambition and lovemaking on television’s finest scale.

Season Three is quite a departure of Season 1 and 2, delving into the first half of George R.R. Martin’s third book “A Storm of Swords.” The first two seasons managed to wrap up “A Game of Thrones” in the first and “A Clash of Kings” in the second. But the award-winning producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss waste no time whatsoever and at the end of 10 episodes just begun to scratch the surface.

The War of the Five Kings remains underway with King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), Robb Stark ( Richard Madden) and Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) all contending for the Iron Throne. And that’s just one facet of the overall arc in Westeros. Exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) spends the entire season growing her forces in the east from city to city, while turmoil unfolds in the north with Jon Snow (Kit Harington), the Night’s Watch and what lies ahead beyond the wall.

The only drawback to splitting “A Storm of Swords” in half is the anti-climactic ending to the season. While the first two seasons ended with a punch befitting of their respective sources, “Swords” misses this unfortunately. But don’t worry, the second-to-last episode “The Rains of Castamere” is much to process that it alone is a fine stopping point until Season Four kicks off in early April.

As said previously, Season Three is intensely complicated, full of new faces and agendas that aren’t exactly spelled out in black-and-white. Natalie Dormer is a delight as usual as Margaery Tyrell, the bride-to-be who has Joffrey by the claws. A glance over in the second season, she is a certainly such a duplicitous force to be reckoned with. Her grandmother, Olenna (Diana Rigg) is also a fine addition to the season’s newcomers. Ciaran Hinds and Mackenzie Crook are worthy additions as well to the subplot with Jon Snow beyond the wall.

However, the veteran of the series – Peter Dinklage, Jack Gleeson, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Aiden Gillan, Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau carry the heart of the season in the midst of the mayhem.

There’s no real misses in this season. All of the episodes hold their own, especially when handling the subplots in King’s Landing or far in the east with Daenerys. It’s no surprise to say that “The Rains of Castamere” episode previously mentioned is the highlight of the season. Granted, the events of the episode will change the landscape of Game of Thrones forever, but the manner in its execution is highly mesmerizing.

Likewise, the Blu-ray combo pack is one of the strongest releases to debut in 2014. HBO knocks the release out of the park once more. The 10 episodes are spread out over five Blu-ray discs and two DVD discs, depending on viewing pleasure. Each Blu-ray typically features two episodes – the exception being the three episodes on Disc 3 and Disc 5 for just the season finale “Mhysa.”

Disc 1 kicks the season off with “New Characters” and “A Gathering Storm.” “New Characters” introduces all the new faces in the third season and wouldn’t be a bad watch before diving headfirst into this latest batch of episodes. “A Gathering Storm” recaps the previous two seasons. It’s surely a good way for veteran fans of the show to play catch-up, but as a newcomer, it’s better to just watch the first 20 episodes. Disc 5 on the Blu-ray is packed full of impressive special features including – “Histories and Lore,” “The Politics of Marriage” and “Roots of Westeros.” Cast and crew commentaries are featured on every disc.

After watching the first two seasons on DVD, the 1080p video transfer for Season Three is a massive improvement. HBO went all out in capturing every single detail of Westeros. Yes, even better than many theatrical releases to make their way to home media. Audio is equally impressive across the board. The DTS-HD 5.1 track is a realistic cornucopia of sounds from dragons to clanging swords.

If you’re new to Game of Thrones or have watched since the very beginning in 2011, this latest boxset hits all the right buttons in becoming one of those releases that cannot go ignored. Just make sure you have a strong stomach for 10 hours of nonstop murder and sex. Otherwise, you’ll be pleased to know that winter is still coming.

Written by
Matt Marshall has been reviewing films since 2003, starting with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." He specializes in home media, including 4K UHD, Blu-ray as well as box office analysis. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.

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