REVIEW: Games of Thrones the Complete First Season 4K Ultra HD
With still a year-plus to go before the final season of HBO’s brilliant Game of Thrones, and who knows how long before the next novel in the Song of Fire and Ice series, there is anticipation that needs tending. HBO is addressing that with the roll out of their 4K UltraHD editions of the first six seasons.
Out Tuesday is Games of Thrones the Complete First Season in a four-disc slick package. If you own the DVD, should you upgrade? Absolutely. If you own the Blu-ray, should you upgrade? Well, that depends. If you have the first Blu-ray release, you might want to upgrade to get not only the sharper image but the Dolby Atmos audio track. If you have the edition with Dolby Atmos, then you have to decide how much you crave the slightly better picture.
The 2K to 4K upgrade is certainly lovely to look at and they do an amazing job with the shadows, rather important for a series such as this. However, it’s incremental so you have to decide for yourself. This is a nicely enhanced upgrade of the original footage, shot digitally at 10 bit, 1920×1080 resolution. With Blu-ray often providing us with 8-bit recordings, the extra 2 bits makes quite the difference. Apparently, the technicians coaxed every bit out of the original digital recordings and provides with additional visual detail as well as a more natural range of colors in the texture of people, places, and things. While not revelatory, you certain gain a new visual appreciation for the production values that were present from the outset.
Keep in mind that all the Blu-ray special features are carried over to this set and the Digital HD code provides you with the same sharp streaming option. You should be aware that the In-Episode Guide feature isn’t here. It would have been nice, for completeness’ sake, to have HBO include the retail exclusive featurettes that appeared on Target, HBO Shop, and Walmart editions.
Looking back at the show, you think about how much younger and more innocent we, and many of the characters, were back then. The, ahem, starkness of good versus evil was very clear and only towards the end of the first ten episodes were the moral gray areas beginning to cast its own shadows over the characters and their connections.
There are far worse things you could with your lazy summer days than revisiting Westeros and enjoying how it all began.