Critical acclaim certainly isn’t everything when it comes to finding the best shows to watch on television. But it doesn’t hurt to have near unanimous praise for your budget-busting fantasy epic either! While the previews and trailers HBO has released in recent months left little to doubt, last night’s 1 hour premiere seems to have won over the hearts and minds of most television critics both online and off.
A quick look at the show’s metacritic score has the show at a respectable 81% with the fans giving the show almost universal praise! Most of the reviews are extremely positive including this one from TV Guide:
“With a cinematic sweep reflected in its brilliant world-building opening credits, Thrones covers a vast medieval landscape of geographic and thematic ground as it weaves an intricate saga of honor, family, treachery, revenge and heroism.”
The Hollywood Reporter gave the show it’s highest praise saying:
“There’s a real allure to costume-dramas that pair dense mythology with all of the crowd-pleasing elements of war, honor, pride, lust, power and, yes, even humor. Thrones has all of those in spades and supports them with exceptional storytelling, strong writing, superb acting and some stunning visual effects.”
Entertainment Weekly urges viewers to:
“Stick with it. Free your eyes to take in the spectacle, and your brain will magically start following the intricate storytelling. And there’s a magical realism to Game of Thrones.”
While Time Magazine says that watching Game of Thrones is like:
“…falling into a gorgeous, stained tapestry. This epic, unflinching fantasy-noir takes our preconceptions of chivalry, nobility and magic and gets medieval on them.”
Most critics praised the amazing production value of the series using words such as ‘epic’ , ‘dazzling’ , and ‘loving detail’ to describe George R.R. Martin’s Westeros on HBO’s screen. Aside from the praise of the art direction, many critics also found the acting to be on par as well calling it ‘very well-acted’ with a ‘steady pacing’. The gratuitous sex and violence seemed to be a topic of admiration as well with PopMatters calling it “tremendously entertaining”.
*A few critics seemed to struggle with the story’s multiple central characters, varied locations and fantastical vocabulary. The New York Times warned that:
“If you are not averse to the Dungeons & Dragons aesthetic, the series might be worth the effort. If you are nearly anyone else, you will hunger for HBO to get back to the business of languages for which we already have a dictionary.”
While the Wall Street Journal seemed to struggle with the fantasy aspects of the show:
“The production has a satisfyingly brooding, ominous look and it’s possible to see the basic appeal for role-players and other fans of a realm that provides a limitless playing field for their own imaginations. Thrones also has wolf pups, which is always cool. But then we’re back to the familiar favorites of the infantile.”
Most of the complaints about the show were along the same lines as these. They complain that the show is too dense and that the vocabulary, name-places and varied characters are difficult to keep track of. Having watched the show myself with a handful of non-role-playing types, I figure that these characters, faces and places will become more clear and memorable as we watch the rest of the ten part series. It certainly helped considerably to have read the novels beforehand myself but I don’t think it’s fair to call the series unsuccessful based on the fact that you can’t keep a few names and places straight upon first viewing of the premiere episode.
HBOWatch will have our own review of the first episode up this week so stay tuned for our (largely positive!) reflections on a truly amazing new series.
If you missed the opening sequence that so many of the critics referenced take a look at it now! It’s absolutely astounding!