‘Game Of Thrones’ In IMAX Will Change The Way You See Westeros Forever


An army of thousands versus a handful of thieves, murderers, cowards and children. Giants riding mastodons roaring at an impenetrable gate, with fire-tipped arrows raining all around them. Swords rip through guts, hammers smash through skulls, and arrows break the hearts of two worlds apart lovers who should have stayed in that damn cave.

None of this is new, if you’ve seen “Game of Thrones.” But there’s a very new way of looking at all the horror and bloodshed that turned the great Wall of Westerns red in season four, thanks to HBO’s decision to screen two episodes of “Thrones” season four as part of a one-week limited event.

The two episodes — director Neil Marshall’s epic “The Watchers on the Wall” and the season four finale “The Children” — have never looked so big, never roared so loud, never quickened the pulse quite like this. Like the sworn brothers who sit upon the Wall, “Thrones” fans often gather together in droves as their watch of each episode begins.

But until you sit in a dark movie theater, hearing the collective gasps and laughs and screams of more than 100 fellow fans sitting next to you, all eyes affixed on Stannis Baratheon’s takedown of Mance Rayder or Tyrion Lannister executing his miserable father — then you know nothing, like Jon Snow, about just how massive and immersive the “Game of Thrones” viewing experience can get.

And yet, the “Game of Thrones” IMAX experience makes one fact abundantly clear: a “Game of Thrones” movie simply cannot work, at least not as a means of ending the HBO series. Rumors persist that “Thrones” could one day wrap up its spectacular story in theaters, and the IMAX release challenges the merit of such a thing. The story is too expansive, the characters far too many, to do all of them justice in a two-hour run-time; even three or four hours wouldn’t suffice.

Even knowing how the events of “Watchers on the Wall” and “The Children” play out, it’s still a bit of a struggle to sit through two hours of “Thrones” waiting for Tyrion’s first appearance at the very end of the event; waiting for Daenerys to lock away her dragons, for little more than a five-minute appearance; waiting for Arya to stand witness as Brienne of Tarth sends her guardian Sandor Clegane plummeting to his doom.

The “Thrones” IMAX experience does wonders for the size and scale and grandeur of this world, but not the intricate details — the characters, conspiracies, and how these various threads may one day meet — that make the show such a show-stopper. It’s the show of it all, the 10-episodes-per-season format, that affords “Thrones” the room to breathe and grow and explore its rich world. A stand-alone “Game of Thrones” movie, set sometime before or after the main events of the series, could work; but any whispered plans to wrap the series up with a big-screen event should be reevaluated.

In any event, while “The Watchers on the Wall” and “The Children” take up most of the IMAX experience’s run-time, they’re not the main event. That distinction belongs to the two-minutes at the very end of the showing: the “Game of Thrones” season five trailer. And what it reveals is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

The trailer begins with Jaime Lannister standing over his late father Tywin’s corpse (guess that answers how Charles Dance will be on “Thrones” this season), before moving on to Littlefinger grabbing Sansa by the shoulders and giving her cold advice: “There’s no justice in this world, not unless we make it. Avenge them.”

Music starts to kick in — a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” — as we see glimpses of Tommen Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell’s wedding, Jorah Mormont battling an enemy in an arena, Jon Snow leading a battle charge somewhere in the North, Arya Stark looking taller and gaunter than usual as she water-dances with Needle — and a very bearded and very depressed Tyrion Lannister having an incredibly interesting conversation with Varys the Spider.

“The Seven Kingdoms needs a ruler loved by millions,” says Varys, “with a powerful army and the right family name.”

Tyron chokes back a sneer. “Good luck finding him,” he says.

“Who said anything about him,” Varys replies.

The scene cuts to Daenerys Targaryen, majestic in Meereen, followed by the ferocious fire-breathing of the uncontrollable Drogon. And while Varys is speaking the words that “Thrones” fans have longed to hear for seasons now, it doesn’t look like Dany’s road to Westeros is about to get any easier; the trailer ends as the great Harpy statue atop the pyramids of Meereen is taken down by force, making it clear that Dany’s current reign could be nearing its gruesome end.

Winter, hurry up and get here already.