movie film review | chris tookey

Game of Thrones (TV)

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  Game of Thrones (TV) Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
8.05 /10
Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage , Sean Bean
Full Cast >

Directed by: Alan Taylor, Neil Marshall, Alex Graves, David Nutter, Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Daniel Minahan, Michelle MacLaren, Alik Sakharov, Miguel Sapochnik,Brian Kirk, Tim Van Patten, Jack Bender, David Petrarca, Daniel Sackheim, Michael Slovis,Matt Shakman, David Benioff, D. B. Weiss
Written by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Vanessa Taylor, Jane Espenson, Davie Hill, Created by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, based on George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire book series

Released: 2011
Origin: US
Length: 0

Ruthless and violent families fight for control of the seven kingdoms on the mythical continent of Westeros.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Game of Thrones canít be faulted for lack of ambition. Itís a genuine epic, with a cinematic grandeur and action set-pieces that are revolutionary in quality for the small screen. Sets and costumes are of a lavishness previously unseen in TV drama, and the external locations (mostly in Northern Ireland, Malta, Spain and Croatia) have been superb. The fantasy and magical elements are well done, with fabulous monsters and immaculate special effects. But itís the realism that makes the biggest impression: thereís an approach to mediaeval history thatís red in tooth and claw. Traditional Arthurian notions of nobility and chivalry are rarely to be seen. This is a series that is not afraid to get down and dirty about human greed, lust and depravity.

Epic scale is coupled with a fascination for the detailed politics and chicanery of a bygone era; itís recognizably beholden to such costume predecessors as I Claudius, The Borgias and The Tudors - not to mention the real-life history of Britainís War of the Roses, upon which it draws heavily. The house of Lannister plainly refers to the House of Lancaster, and the House of Stark is likewise based on the House of York.

Direction, writing and most of the acting are on a high level; and the longform structure has enabled there to be unexpected shocks - mostly concerning the deaths of major characters - that would not have been attempted in previous shows, for fear that they would alienate followers of the series. This creates the feeling that history carries on, regardless of death, and emphasises the dangers of going to war. It also feeds the notion that the programme is bigger than any of the stars within it - though an exception may be made for the dwarf Tyron Lannister, marvellously played by Peter Dinklage (pictured), who is the devious survivor holding the narrative together.

I must admit that I found George R.R. Martinís books hard to get on with. I didnít find them as imaginative, conceptually or visually, as The Lord of the Rings or Mervyn Peakeís Gormenghast trilogy. The density of the plotting, some clunky exposition and the relative humourlessness all tested my patience. These limitations have largely been overcome in the TV version, though critical complaints have been raised that some episodes in series 7 felt rushed because of all that dense plotting. Another common objection, especially of series 5 to 7, was that there was not enough focus on major characters. Minor participants were given undue attention, which led to an impression that the pacing was too sluggish. As the series have gone on, there have been complaints that the show is both too slow and too rushed.

This hasnít been helped by the plonky nature of the dialogue. Massive amounts of exposition take place in what one critic called ďepic drama speakĒ, and some of the lesser actors - especially the children and inexperienced young female actresses - havenít been able to make it sound natural.

All the series have come under vigorous criticism for their infatuation with graphic violence, and their voyeuristic celebration of lust. The torture of Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) seemed unpleasantly exploitative and needlessly over-extended, and the same criticism has been levelled at several rapes. There has been a lot of gratuitous nudity, almost all of it female; and I came away from certain episodes all too aware that the series isnít above pandering to testosterone-crazed males under 35.

However, thereís no denying that the show has had more than its share of strong woman characters, and numerous female actors have made the most of these opportunities. Accusations of sexism and voyeurism are not misplaced; but thereís no getting away from the fact that in mediaeval times the objectification of women was probably even more prevalent than it is now. Despite its sexist reputation, the show has a huge female following.

Game of Thrones is to be praised for bringing greater realism to the often twee, asexual world of fantasy. My personal problem with the show is that its worldview is unduly negative, bordering on nihilistic. The overriding motive here is lust for power - and power here means physical strength, monetary wealth and political influence. Little else matters. Love, honour and virtue are for wimps. Anyone lowborn or female doesnít count for anything, unless they are obsessed with - you guessed it - power. Iím not convinced that the series is altogether healthy in its obsession with sexual violence (much of the sex is violent, and violence is often portrayed as sexy). From what I have read of the books, the series follows George R. R. Martinís worldview pretty assiduously. I can admire the quality of Game of Thrones and the scale of its ambition; but it is so pessimistic about human nature - and world history - that I find it unsympathetic, exploitative and immature in its cynicism.

None of this should detract from the fact that itís still a major achievement.

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