So, most of you have probably heard of Game of Thrones, and a lot of you who have heard of it have probably already watched episodes one and two, as we are now pretty much done with season two at the moment >.> I, however, am reading the books and refuse to watch the series past where I’ve read in the books. That being said, I’m actually over half-finished with A Clash of Kings (The second book, which the second season covers), so I should get catching up on the series fairly soon, I just haven’t had the time quite yet. I enjoy both the series and the books (So far), but there are a few things that bother me and I’d like to address them. Why? Because I’m on the internet, and the internet makes me feel damn important. I’m going to do my review on the music (Specifically the opening theme song, as it’s used quite prominently in the show), the characters and the plot of the overall episodes, as well as how they compare to their literary counterpart.
Let’s start by talking about the opening theme song. The opening theme song is AWESOME. It’s actually what got me to want to pick up the series and I’m quite glad I did. You can give the opening a looksie on youtube by clicking this wonderful link right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7L2PVdrb_8 The animation is strong, and it doesn’t really spoil anything about the plot. If anything, the opening animation is a perfect guide to the story as it gives a good insight into the layout of the world the characters reside in, as well as subtle hints as to the factions that will compete for the throne (That being a Dragon, a Stag, a Direwolf, and a Lion). The composition by Ramin Djawadi is AMAZING, and it echos throughout the show (perhaps too much sometimes. I feel like the theme sounds too epic and grand a few times when it’s played in the show itself, when I feel a darker tone theme would have been more appropriate).
Because the episodes are an hour long each, they manage to introduce a lot of characters and concepts in the first two episodes. I think that the opening theme really helps to augment this, because it allows viewers to have an idea of what the world looks like so they feel less thrust into this unknown world. The series opens with a similar prologue to the book, which is essentially several members of the Black getting massacred by the Others (Or White Watchers). Not much is known about the White Watchers, but we do get to see them kill a bunch of people and they apparently have a slew of corpses that they can magically make disappear. In the book, there’s a bit more exposition as to what they actually are, but in the series they tone down the exposition, which kind of makes me feel like there’s a part missing. This is really the big thing that makes this series as well as films like The Hunger Games (Which I’ll probably review too, eventually) fall short of their literary predecessors. The book is written from the point of view of several characters during chapters devoted to their respective position. While they aren’t first person narratives like in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, they are told with a clear bias to that character, and the audience isn’t told anything that character doesn’t know. This is effective because it helps the audience feel connected to that character and to sympathize with them, but it also prevents the audience from suffering all of a character’s prejudices (Which was my biggest problem with Hunger Games being told directly from the first person. Katniss is a dumb as Hell character, and sometimes her analysis of the situation just makes me face-palm. But I’ll save that for THAT review)
Look at all of my emotions!
The reason this fails in the series is because it denies us that insight into the character’s psyche that the books give. In the Hunger Games film, there’s a lot we don’t know about Katniss having trust issues with Peeta and Rue, we don’t see her figure things out, and instead some of those things are LITERALLY narrated out for us by commentators. This problem is present as well in Game of Thrones, but with more working time than two hours to satisfy the books, they were able to take a few artistic liberties to allow characters to ‘read’ into the emotions of the characters. For example, there’s a bitter moment at the end of episode 2 where Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean’s character) is forced to do a task that is considerably foul. Sean Bean does an excellent job of portraying the character’s guilt, and it’s obvious what his beliefs are. Peter Dinklage also does an excellent job of showing Tyrion Lannister’s personality, although the character hasn’t done too much overall as of the first two episodes.
Yeah, I pretty much deserved this.
Where this method fails is in characters like Jon Snow. Jon Snow is one of my favorite characters, the bastard son of Ned Stark. However, his actor, Kit Harington, has been almost devoid of emotions during these two episodes.
Look at all MY emotions!
In a scene in episode two where he presents his sister Arya with a sword, it’s supposed to be a tearful and sad farewell, but Kit Harington makes it feel just business. Hopefully he’ll open up more and show us a lot more of the thoughtful and complicated character Jon Snow is, but for now I’m sorely disappointed in his performance.
Now, outside of the characters, there are a few things that bother me about the execution of the plot of the overall story. There haven’t been too many differences between the plot of the book and the series, but there are a few things here and there that bother me. For example, Catelyn Stark still obviously harbors contempt for Jon Snow, but it doesn’t quite show how much she hates him. There are a couple of lines of dialogue that are missing that really affect the tone of their relationship. Also, there are other aesthetic differences in some of the sets and costumes that actually devalue some of the development that happens later in the story. However, at the base level that is just nitpicking, as they still do a good job for the most part in showing that, and most of the key lines are still present in the series. What really does bother me is some of the choices I can only assume were to meet some breast quota that HBO has in place. The story is definitely an HBO story, and even in the books there are a lot of things that are obviously HBO material. Yet, for some reason, they actually addmore. For example, the first time we see Peter Dinklage’s character, he is with a whore. … Who is shortly joined by more whores. None of which wearing anything. His first appearance in the book was following closely behind his older brother, as they are described as being very close and loving siblings. I guess this still makes sense, I mean, while Tyrion is missing the other characters notice him (Which is funny because his appearance was one of the most important aspects of the chapter that he was introduced in, as he has sort of a companionship he develops with Jon Snow, being that he is a dwarf and dwarves are all also, “Bastards in their father’s eyes”), so his brother is the one who brings him a batch of more whores. That’s cool, I mean, at least they still do have SOME of that brotherly love? There’s also this weird pseudo-lesbian relationship Daenyrys Targaryen shares with one of her maids. I may just not have read far enough into the books yet, but I haven’t read a DAMN thing about that relationship. I’m kind of confused by it. My guess is it is again some sort of fulfillment of a fan service quota by HBO. We need girl-on-girl action, dammit!
Overall, I give the series a good hearty check-it-out. It’s a bit gratuitous, dirty, and violent, so don’t let the kiddies view it, but it’s a plenty good series for everyone else out there. Have fun out there kids, and remember the words, Ours is the Fury!