Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review

Check out our review of the fifth season of this engaging and compelling HBO Series based on the bestselling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92

Details:

Studio and Year: HBO – 2015
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 559 minutes
Genre: Drama/Action/Adventure/Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Lain, Spanish, Castilian, Polish, Brazilian, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Nikolai Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Iain Glen, Alfrie Allen, John Bradley, James Cosmo, Liam Cunningham, Stephen Dillane, Natalie Dormer, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Aiden Gillen, Conleth Hill, Sibel Kekilli, Maise Williams, Rose Leslie, Pedro Pascal, Diana Rigg, Gwendoline Christie, Jonathan Pryce
Directed by: Various
Music by: Ramin Djawadi
Written by: ] D.B. Weiss & David Benioff based on the “Song of ice and fire by George R.R. Martin
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 15, 2016

“Valar Dohaeris”

My Take:

Season 5 begins with a power vacuum that protagonists across Westeros and Essos look to fill. At Castle Black, Jon Snow struggles to balance the demands of the Night’s Watch with those of newly-arrived Stannis Baratheon, who styles himself the rightful king of Westeros. Meanwhile, Cersei scrabbles to hold on to power in King’s Landing amidst the Tyrells and the rise of a religious group led by the enigmatic High Sparrow, while Jaime embarks on a secret mission. Across the Narrow Sea, Arya seeks an old friend while a fugitive Tyrion finds a new cause. And as danger mounts in Meereen, Daenerys Targaryen finds that her tenuous hold on the city requires some hard sacrifices. This season features some of the most explosive scenes yet, as the promise that “winter is coming” becomes more ominous than ever before.

I was late the Game of Thrones phenomenon and didn’t begin watching it until season three. I haven’t read any of the books so my exposure to it going into viewing season three was limited and held only to what I had heard from friends that have been following from the outset. Needless to say it was a challenge trying to put the various storylines, characters and their correlation or lack thereof together. Once I began putting the pieces and associations in place I was able to begin absorbing the show’s cache of characters and the multitude of subplots.

The primary plots playing out over the course of the season and the ones that I found to be the most interesting/entertaining were the continuing saga of Arya and Sansa Stark, the last remaining of their house (or are they?), each finding themselves struggling to integrate into the newly shaped world, which isn’t so kind. Jon Snow’s new role within the Night’s Watch and his less than popular decision to seek a union with an old enemy. Tyrion and Jorah followed by Tyrion and Daenerys. Jamie and Bronn’s trip to the land of Dorn (never before seen in GOT). The rise of the High Sparrow and course of events that turn King’s Landing upside down. Lastly, the continuing thread surrounding Stannis’ quest to claim the Iron Throne and the resultant fervor over the scene that sent shockwaves throughout the GOT fan base. As always the door is wide open for next season with key storylines poised to take shape.

Part political thriller, part epic fantasy, season 5 bristles with bloody battles, betrayals, and head turning drama/melodrama. Based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, Games of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season is a compelling and at times shocking experience that despite a few shortcomings kept me engaged. This season features returning cast members Peter Dinklage(Tyrion Lannister), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Aidan Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Diana Rigg (Lady Olenna Tyrell, Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Conleth Hill (Varys), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), New cast members include: Alexander Siddig (Doran Martell), Jonathan Pryce (High Sparrow), Keisha Castle-Hughes (Obara Sand), Rosabell Laurentie Sellers (Tyene Sand), Jessica Henwick (Nymeria Sand).

Season five’s ten episodes are spread over four BD-50 dual layered Blu-ray discs. The integrated bonus material contains multiple featurettes, extended and deleted scenes, and audio commentaries. The set comes housed in an attractive and sturdy cardboard keep case that comes with an embossed slipcover.

Parental Guide:

The show contains graphic violence, language, sexual content, graphic nudity and strong thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA

 

Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion:
  • Soundstage integration:
  • Audio object placement:
  • Effectiveness:
  • Entertainment factor:

 

Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 4.6 Mbps.

This high definition video presentation offers clear, refined images that primarily boast a relatively subdued color palette that is rarely eye catching but conveys the earth tones and time period specific clothing, locals and sullen complexions with aplomb. There are instances where deeper more vivacious hues are utilized and their presence is not only welcomed but their application is purposefully vivid and boldly stated. The rendering of fine detail can range from exquisite to moderate. This leaves certain long range and mid-level shots with less dimensionality but not to the point of appearing soft. Black levels fluctuate however contrast is stable which when coupled along with the prevailing use of low level lighting mates well with the visual style of the presentation. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts/anomalies and felt that this high definition presentation closely mimicked and bested the series’ original broadcast quality.

The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack isn’t bombastic or overly aggressive but that doesn’t prevent it from being remarkable. Its attributes come in the form of superlative high level detail, defining clarity, and subtly distinctive surround sound that doesn’t disappoint. This is a sophisticated sound design that incorporates a vast number of sounds/effects that are intricately mixed to engage the listening position. Bass can be deep and room energizing but never rises inappropriately in prominence. The mix expertly handles the delicate blend of music, discrete/ambient sounds, crystal clear dialogue and low frequency effects as it weaves an aurally stimulating pattern across the soundstage.

Game of Thrones is the first TV series released on Blu-ray to incorporate Dolby Atmos. Having seen previous seasons, including 1 and 2 on Blu-ray, with Dolby Atmos, I looked forward to seeing what season five’s mix had in store. As with Atmos mixes for seasons 1 and 2, I found this offering to be of the moderately active variety in its use of overhead sounds but considering the source material that’s not a complete surprise. Game of Thrones has elements of action/adventure but much of the time is driven by dialogue. The show features a variety of interior and exterior locations/sequences containing a host of recorded sounds/effects designed to replicate its environs.

The Atmos mix uses the entire soundstage placing audio objects in the form of discrete on and off camera cues, the creaking, thumps and rocking of the interior of a horse drawn wagon, the echoed expanse of a great hall, the realistic feel of the confinement of a dungeon cell or the busy sounds of a street market. The music score is beautifully mixed over the platform so as to add natural dimension and prioritization to its orchestrated elements while complimenting the story’s thematic details. When the action kicks (such as the extended engagement with the White Walkers) the level of immersion increases as the sound field comes alive with the visceral details of battle. This is done to very good effect, correlating with the onscreen events quite nicely as the most minute audio cues are fully realized.

I appreciated the fact that the sound designers didn’t go overboard with the freedom of object versus channel based mixing. The Atmos mix retains the soundtrack’s essence while adding a noticeable increase in scope. I tip my cap to HBO for their support of Dolby Atmos on Game of Thrones. Keep them coming..!

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) The Dance of Dragons – Hear the story of the Greens and the Blacks, the Targaryen civil war that led to the downfall of the dragons, featuring surprise narration from notable characters from past seasons.
  • In-Episode Guide – Dig deeper into the show with this in-feature resource that provides background information about on-screen characters, locations, and relevant histories.
  • (HD) Histories and Lore – Learn about the mythology of Westeros and Essos as told from the varying perspectives of the characters themselves in 14 history pieces. Select Histories feature illustrations from the show’s storyboard artist, Will Simpson.
  • (HD) Anatomy of an Episode: Mother’s Mercy – From the early stages of the writer’s room to the final visual effects, see what went into creating “Mother’s Mercy,” the Emmy-winning episode fans will be talking about for years to come.
  • (HD) The Real History Behind Game of Thrones – Watch historians, along with George R.R. Martin, explore the interweaving inspirations of the actual players in the era known as “The Wars of the Roses” and other historical events in this two-part series
  • Audio Commentaries – Twelve audio commentaries with cast and crew including David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen, Maisie Williams, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie and more.
  • (HD) Deleted Scenes – 4 deleted scenes
  • (HD) A Day in the Life – Three countries, hundreds of cast & crew, one epic day. Get an inside look at the production process of Season 5.
  • (HD) New Characters/New Locations – Explore the new societies, cultures and locations of Season 5.
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

In season five of the HBO original series Game of thrones , which is based on the bestselling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, this epic drama, set in the grounded fantasy continent of Westeros, survival will be the overarching theme, with major characters finding themselves spread out in unfamiliar territory. Season five from HBO looks and sounds terrific, with a complimentary Dolby Atmos mix bringing an added dimension to the show’s presentation, while fans can spend time perusing the assortment of worthwhile bonus features that enhance the experience on Blu-ray. Game of Thrones is an entertaining and compelling series that continually pushes the envelope. This four disc set comes recommended for fans looking to brush up on last season’s storylines before the premiere of season six.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player
Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package