HBO’s Foray into Fantasy Off to a Solid Start With ‘Game of Thrones’

When you think of good adult fantasy, well… (I probably just lost half the readers) In all seriousness, what is there? Name a truly epic adult fantasy (on either film or television) that has tried to take itself seriously, and succeeded? Even the Lord of the Rings movies aren’t “cool” to like anymore, and they made more money than Avatar. There are plenty of good fantasy stories, but when it comes to adapting them and making them work, Hollywood has been gun-shy.

So when i first heard of HBO’s plans to adapt a multiple-book epic that takes place in a medieval-type world where swords and barbarians fight in ancient kingdoms… I knew it would be good. I heard of it three or four years ago, and have been an avid HBO fan. I began watching back when shows like the Sopranos and The Wire were just getting started… Oz had been changing the face of television for years, and HBO on it’s own ushered in a new age of serious, dramatic, adult entertainment on television. So a medieval fantasy epic? Oh hell yes.

Four years or so later, and Sunday night was the premiere episode of Game of Thrones. ‘Winter is Coming’ begins the story of what has been jokingly called, The Sopranos in Middle Earth. Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring), Lena Headey (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and Mark Addy (The Full Monty) are just a few of the HUGE cast of characters that populate this world.

Let me stress the importance of that word in this context… world. The world is set in the fictional, large, South America–sized continent, with an ancient history stretching back twelve thousand years. The seasons last for years in this strange place, and as the title of the pilot episode would have us now, ‘Winter is Coming.’

The product value of this saga is feature-film worthy, the effects amazing. I haven’t seen anything this large since HBOs Rome… One of the best things ever put to film. The first episode picks up in the middle of a crisis. The king of the land is under threat from many sides, and the main character, Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark must leave his wintery home land for the capital city. Meanwhile trouble brews to the north, where an ancient ice wall guards a terrible secret. There is swordplay, feasts, elegant costumes, and superb special effects. There is also a level of class that HBO brings to all of it’s productions, and they haven’t missed a beat. This series is bound to be one the greatest achievements for fantasy fans.

Plus the recent news that Ron Howard is making Stephen Kings epic The Dark Tower series over a span of three movies and three seasons of a television show… Well it’s just proof that special effects have caught up to the level where studios can make quality, adult entertainment for enough to still turn a profit. I can’t expressed the level of excitement I have for The Dark Tower… (It is the greatest epic fantasy story written in the past 50 years.) Bravo to HBO, to Ron Howard, and to those of us who’ve known these stories are out there… And the special effects guys.. Game of Thrones‘ first episode is brilliant, I can’t wait to see more.

Oh and check out one of the greatest opening sequences ever made. Everything about this series is extremely well done so far.