By Matt Cummings
If in the course of the day, you find yourself as one of the only people on planet Earth who still hasn’t watched GAME OF THRONES, it’s probably time you did so. Certainly a landmark series, HBO’s brilliant, dark medieval family throwdown drama now offers Season 1 on 4K. And while that alone may not seem like a reason to pony up for the additional cost, the results are worth your time. Season 1 looks and sounds even better, bolstered by a great Dolby Atmos track and an upscaled H.265 codec.
For our really great Season 1 review of the Blu-ray, please consult THIS LINK.
HBO’s GAME OF THRONES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON arrives with on 4K UHD with impressive results. Although some have claimed that poor camera choices forced a terrible 4K transfer, I cannot see any issues whatsoever. There is improvement across the board from the Blu-ray version, especially when one considers that most of Season 1 was shot in relative dim and even darkened environs. There’s no black crush and detail is impressive in every scene. Blood, facial features, and hair enjoy improved definition, while costumes and sets look even better. GoT really loves Dolby Vision, as color looks lifelike, showing off new highlights while keeping the comic-book tone out of things. If you already have one of the many, many, many versions of Season 1 and are wondering if you should spend the money, I’d say it’s probably worth your time. It’s not a slam dunk per say, but it is a marked improvement.
Where HBO really hits it out of the park is in its Dolby Atmos track. Starting at – well, the first scene – the full force of the LFE is utilized to its fullest degree, booming and thundering across the landscape with sheet force. Then the theme arrives, and you feel as if you’re being serenaded by a real orchestra. Surrounds are simply fabulous, pushing out a variety of crowd noises and outdoor sounds to make you think you’re really there reliving all the fun. Forest wind and running streams resonate through the rears, while the score by Composer Ramin Djawadi towers above the clouds with fantastic results. This performance alone might be enough to consider replacement, as it’s only going to get better as the seasons progress.
SEASON 1 is missing some of the original supplements from previous versions, which could make you want to impale yourself with a rusty medieval-era sword. Why these things happen is beyond, but let’s talk about what is there. Everything here has been upscaled to HDR. Audio commentaries appear on all discs, with the following specific episodes enjoying their moments in the sun:
- Winter is Coming, The Kingsroad, Lord Snow
- Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things, A Golden Crown
- The Pointy End
- Fire and Blood
The remainder of the supplements are located on Disc #4.
- Character Profiles (30:42): Various overviews are presented.
- Anatomy of an Episode (1:00:31): This one gets into Episode 6.
- Making of Game of Thrones (30:02)
- From the Book to the Screen (5:15)
- Creating the Show Open (5:07)
- Creating the Dothraki Language (5:27)
- The Night’s Watch (8:07)
- Histories and Lore (1:09:04)
- Cast Auditions (10:37)
Our evaluation copy arrived as a 4K Ultra HD and with a digital copy of each episode. The 4K slipcase is embossed and is quite nice. As of this posting, there were no other versions available…yet. Count on HBO to release various versions of the packaging, in an effort to separate more of you from your money.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The real question here is whether you should double, triple, or quadruple-dip for GAME OF THRONES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON 4K. I’d say it all depends on whether you can take advantage of Dolby Atmos AND Dolby Vision and your eye has become trained to notice the differences between them and mere high-definition. If instead you’re willing to wait until this series takes its final bow with what will be a massive re-release of the 4K’s into a box set, then I’d wait for that day to arrive. That might not sit well with HBO brass, but it’s a consideration one must make in these days. However, you’ll be happy if you accept the challenge, as technical elements are stellar across the board.