Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: 'Game of Thrones' Season 1

(Photo Source: HBO)

Late last year, I reviewed and recommended A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Now that I've watched season 1 of the HBO show Game of Thrones, I thought I would come back on here and gives my thoughts on the adaptation as well.

My favorite characters from the book were Arya, Dany and Tyrion. And the same holds true for the series. (It almost seems obvious this should be the case, but with the wrong actor a favorite character might not be as well liked--Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore in Harry Potter after Richard Harris died, comes to mind.) The girl who plays Arya, Maisie Williams, portrays her perfectly--she's sweet and innocent looking, but she's much stronger than anyone would give the character credit for. And Peter Dinklage as Tyrion is one of those casting decisions where you can't picture anyone else playing the "Imp."

When they were first making the series, there was no guarantee that it would succeed, and so it's obvious the budget wasn't as big as it maybe should've been. This is highly evident at the end of the season when we don't even see the battle take place. Instead, they use a gimmick where Tyrion bumps his head and goes unconscious. When he wakes, the battle is over.

Something else that bothered me was the character of Sansa. I feel that, comparing the two mediums, she's less likable on the show. And I think it has to do with the actress. To me, Sophie Turner acted almost as if she were still in the 21st century modern world. I didn't believe her as someone living in a medieval time period. I don't know if it was just bad acting or what, but she kept bothering me throughout.

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Having the visuals of the story instead of just reading them really brings everything and everyone to life in a way that improves the plot. Because there are an endless number of characters that are hard to keep track of in the book, seeing the characters on the show really helped me to keep track of who everyone was. In that sense, the show may have been better than the book.

And just as I feel that the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is better than the books (in probably the only instance where a movie is better than the book), in many ways I can say the same thing about Game of Thrones. Even though they were given 10 hours to adapt the book, there are areas where they of course had to continue distilling the story down not only into a manageable length, but also to make it work as a TV show. And by doing so, they hewed pretty close to the book while not boring us with unnecessary characters or narrative.

As I said in my review of the book, I knew going in that there was a lot of sex and gore. And so when I started watching the series, I had that in my mind. But it still came as a bit of a shock seeing how much HBO is able to get away with. (I don't have HBO, so I'm not used to their other programs.) They showed full-frontal nudity, genitalia and all. And not just the girls, but the guys as well. And with the gore/violence, when Ned's head was sliced off, I already knew the story, but I still jumped when it happened. If a movie/TV show can still accomplish that, then they're doing something right.

Also, the season ends just how the book does, with Dany "rising from the ashes," so to speak, with the dragons hatched. I was blown away after reading it. And the way it's adapted, the only word that comes to mind is 'epic.' What a way to leave us on a cliffhanger.

I really enjoyed the book, but I loved the TV show even more. And I'm looking forward to moving on to season 2 once I'm done reading A Clash of Kings, which I'm currently in the middle of.

I Recommend: Game of Thrones Season 1

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