Let’s get right down to it. HBO Home Entertainment has issued Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray (with Digital HD copies included) and you, the devoted fan, need some reasons to spend your hard-earned money on the most illegally-downloaded show of 2015. First of all, the most important reason: stealing is wrong (duh). As much as some folks don’t want to accept it, rampant pirating has had a tremendously detrimental effect on the entertainment industry as a whole. But even if you have a paid HBO subscription, the fifth season belongs in your Game of Thrones collection because the Blu-ray set has an awesome array of bonus features.
You most likely already know if you’re in the market for this release. No one should jump into Thrones, the brilliant adaptation of fantasy author George R.R. Martin’s book series, at any point other than the very beginning. If you’ve seen the first four seasons—and specifically HBO’s corresponding Blu-ray releases—you’re already well aware of how awesome these shows look. The 1080p transfers of all 10 episodes are darn near perfect, with rich colors, spot-on contrast levels, and razor-sharp rendering of the series’ digital cinematography.
I’m envious of those equipped for Dolby Atmos audio presentation, since The Complete Fifth Season boasts that premium format. But the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixes do just fine for those of us not up to snuff. As with previous Thrones BD releases, the lossless surround mixes are sweepingly cinematic.
Commentary tracks dominate the special features, with all but the seventh episode (“The Gift”) having at least one accompanying track. Episode eight (“Hardhome”) has three commentary tracks; episode nine (“Dance of the Dragons”) has two. Participants range from episode directors and directors of photography to writers to cast members (including Peter Dinklage).
Not everyone has the time or patience to delve into commentary tracks. If that’s you, rest easy—there’s a wealth of video-based features as well. Fans might’ve caught “A Day In the Life” on HBO, a 26-minute featurette that spends some time exploring the international shooting locations of season five. “New Characters/New Stories” runs about eight minutes (the title is fairly self-explanatory). Don’t watch “Anatomy of an Episode: Mother’s Mercy” if you haven’t seen the season finale. But after you have, this half-hour piece offers a thorough examination.
“The Real History Behind Game of Thrones” is a two-part doc (about 40 minutes total). “Histories and Lore” is a series of seven bite-sized featurettes about a variety of Thrones-related topics (ex. “The Faceless Men,” “The Seven-Pointed Star”) that totals about 25 minutes. “Dance of the Dragons” is another 20-minute piece. There are about eight minutes of deleted scenes thrown in for good measure. Comprehensive extras package? I’d say so. Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season delivers the goods, making it a must-purchase for fans.