Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, the 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/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

94

Details:

Studio and Year: HBO – 2019
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 425 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 2160p/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, Jerome Flynn, Liam Cunningham, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Aiden Gillen, Conleth Hill, Sibel Kekilli, Maise Williams, Gwendoline Christie, Rory McCann.
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

Release Date: December 3, 2019

“The Conclusion”

Synopsis:

The Eighth and final season of Game of Thrones brings together the shows two primary conflicts: the battle against the Night King and his Army of the Dead, and the long-awaited fight for control of the Iron Throne. The first three episodes involve the convergence and ultimate battle for mankind’s survival at Winterfell and, the final three episodes depict the war for the throne at Kings Landing in an attempt to unseat Cersei Lannister as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.

My Take:

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. I have since seen all of its episodes and am completely hooked.

Based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, Games of Thrones is a compelling and at times shocking experience that over the previous seven seasons has proved to be one of the best series made for television. Last season the continuing story rolled onward playing out with the various narrative threads coming together as reunions, alliances, payback, betrayal, the deaths of key players, and a pretty meaningful revelation, took place, putting the pieces in place for the chess game that will decide the outcome. All of this under the looming threat of the Army of Dead. Each episode proved to be a little better than the next as the engaging character interaction, bold drama, and wonderfully infused action underscored the series excellent thematic elements. The ending was among the series best, leaving the door wide open for the series final season’s key storylines, which were poised to take shape.

The final season brings together the shows two primary conflicts: the battle against the Night King and his Army of the Dead, and the long-awaited fight for control of the Iron Throne. The season is only six episodes in length and opens with Jon Snow and Daenerys arriving in Winterfell to a less than enthusiastic welcome. Over the next three episodes we see the culmination of a series of events, some of which had beginnings that started much earlier in the series. The majority of the show’s living character base find themselves in Winterfell in an effort to thwart the looming threat that is the Night King and his minions. The season’s first three episodes, while not perfect, proved engaging and did a decent job of building upon the foundational blocks of previous seasons.

Episode three, an extended episode called “The Long Night” which depicts the battle against the Army of the Dead is a white-knuckle affair that sees the loss of many, including several long-standing characters. It’s my favorite episode of the season. Episodes four, five and six focus on the quest to unseat Cersei and resolve the question of who will sit upon the Iron Thrown. In my opinion, this is where things go awry in terms of the shaping of the show’s final narrative and outcome for its characters. There is an unexpectedly darker turn that brings into question just how to interpret the mindset of one of the show’s beloved characters.

Things quickly escalate leaving the audience to feel as though perhaps they aren’t watching the same show/characters that they have come to enjoy so much. There is also a noticeable lack of diligence when it comes to fulfilling the promise of some of the show’s smaller supporting plotlines in favor simply bringing everything to a neat, tidy and bloody end. Lastly, the decisions surrounding the outcomes of who lives, dies and comes to power are far from gratifying. When the final credits rolled, I was not only disappointed but, was a little angry, felling as through my investment in the Game of Thrones was not at all brought to a satisfactory conclusion. From what I gather, I wasn’t the only fan that felt this way.

The subject of this review of this review of the Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray, Digital HD, Ultra HD Blu-ray release. I really like the steelbook packaging’s handsome exterior with the removable sigil magnet. The interior has two push button placement holders, one on each side, for the discs. My only complaint is that the discs have to mounted atop one another and I occasionally found it difficult to extract the discs by pressing the button.

Replay Value: 3.0 Stars

Parental Guide:

The show contains graphic violence, language, sexual content, 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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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

 

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Game of Thrones: The complete Eighth comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from HBO Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season was rendered from a 2K DI and up-converted to 4K.

Game of Thrones is a period drama that adheres to relatively cooler chromatic schemes, with the exception of sequences that call for richer color to provide thematic emphasis, which doesn’t make for especially eye- catching levels of color, but this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. With a noticeable increase in detail the image appears sharper when compared to the 1080p version. The plethora of close up camera shots reveal plenty of subtle refinement and textures within the image. Primary colors like blue and red are pleasingly rich while whites appear bright and punchy.

The added dimension in the grays, blacks, and shadows gives the image excellent depth. Both interior and exterior scenes during the extended nighttime battle at Winterfell are a good example. The exterior sequences in Kings Landing with their sepia toned aesthetic and razor sharpness looked terrific. The season has a variety of sequences that take advantage of high dynamic range. The contrast between the shadow details and specular highlights during the aforementioned battle at Winterfell gave the image lots of visual pop. I think that Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season benefitted from the Ultra HD treatment. The improvement isn’t a consistently glaring one, however more often than not, it truly shines.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1:

Game of Thrones was the first TV series to incorporate Dolby Atmos. Having seen previous seasons, with Dolby Atmos, and being familiar with this season’s events, I looked forward to seeing what the mix had in store. I found this offering to more active than previous offerings, utilizing the entire soundstage quite nicely. Game of Thrones has elements of action/adventure as well as moments driven almost entirely by dialog. 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, or convincingly replicating the echoed expanse of a great hall, overhead pans, rollicking battleground exchanges, and the howling winds of winter. 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. This is done to very good effect, correlating with the onscreen events quite nicely as the most minute audio cues are fully realized. The Atmos mix retains the soundtrack’s essence while adding a noticeable increase in scope.

The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless sound keeps pace with the video and is quite good. Dynamics are robust and highs are crisp without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with defining tonal expression and room penetrating depth through the center channel. The front soundstage is diffused with excellent separation and clearly articulated detail. The presentation makes ample use of the entire surround platform. At times it opens up quite nicely to create an involving surround mix containing a mix of directional and ambient sounds. Bass response doesn’t reach subterranean levels however it appropriately supports the source elements and provides an appreciably tight, and punchy low end.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

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

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
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Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
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  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

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 period specific clothing, locals and sullen complexions with aplomb. 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 easily bested the series’ original broadcast quality.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray
  • In-Episode Guides
  • Game of Thrones: The Last Watch: A documentary featured on DVD in two parts by filmmaker Jeanie Finlay chronicling the making of the final season.
  • When Winter Falls: Exclusive 30-minute featurette with showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with major stars and behind-the-scenes players, breaking down all that went into the colossal filming of the “Battle of Winterfell” in Season 8, Episode 3.
  • Duty is the Death of Love: A compelling look at how the team behind Game of Thrones and its major stars, including Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke, brought the show to its conclusion in the series finale, “The Iron Throne.”
  • Audio Commentaries: 10 Audio Commentaries with cast and crew, including the show’s creators, Benioff and Weiss, on the final season.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes: 5 never-before-seen deleted or extended scenes from season 8.
  • Histories and Lore: New animated pieces giving the history and background of notable season 8 locations and storylines.
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

In season eight 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, we see the series playout to its final conclusion. The season started out well but, unfortunately failed to provide expectant fans with a gratifyingly strong ending, given the wealth of enriching plotlines and characters over the course of the show. The Complete Eighth Season comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Combo Pack from HBO Entertainment featuring excellent overall video quality (which includes Dolby Vision HDR), engaging lossless surround sound, including a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive mix and a fair supplemental package.

Despite being disappointed by the series final three episodes Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season has a place in my collection alongside seasons 1 through 7. It’s presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray look and sound terrific so, in that regard feel free to pick it up.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems