Will House of Dragons, the prequel to Game of Thrones, live up to the original series?
This is the question that critics are trying to answer after the first showings of the long-awaited new series, but the answer is incomplete.
Some, such as the Guardian newspaper, are declaring it a “huge success” that is “as great as the previous series in its best days”.
Others are somewhat milder. The Telegraph newspaper says the series “doesn’t satisfy”, while the Wrap portal went a step further, calling it “pale in comparison” to the original.
House of the Dragon cost almost £20m per episode. The show starts on Sunday in America and from Monday in Britain.
Lucy Mangan of The Guardian described the series as a “relief”, saying that “good times are coming”.
“In short, everything is like the best days of Game of Thrones,” she wrote.
“Fun, thought-provoking, looks great and sounds acceptable.”
With a five-star rating, The Times magazine describes the new series as “visually lavish, well-acted (for the most part), clearly written and cleverly staged.”
It will be “completely accessible to anyone who hasn’t watched a second of Game of Thrones, and reassuringly familiar to those who have watched every episode of the original,” writes Ben Dowell.
Los Angeles Times magazine critics agree that House of the Dragon “retains the power and grandeur of the original”.
Almost instantly immerses viewers in the familiar sights and sounds of the Game of Thrones universe.wrote Lorraine Ali
Great Success of Game of Thrones TV Show
“You still need a strong stomach to return to Westeros (beware of beheadings, carts full of dismembered bodies and worse scenes), but you don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to enjoy the House of Dragons.”
But he also notes that the first scenes depicting childbirth and competition are “powerful enough on their own to make the first episode a huge success and show that House of Dragons has a deep understanding of its female characters that Game of Thrones took years to find.”
The Washington Post’s Inko Kang says the series speaks for itself, “but not right away.” It’s “wobbly” at the beginning, she adds, and “the first three settings are generic in the course of the story,” she wrote.
It takes all six episodes that are available to viewers (there are 10 in the first season) for the authors to “place all the pieces on the chessboard,” she added.
“But once the game is set, things get better quickly. The relationship between former friends Rhaenyra and Alicent becomes particularly prickly when it turns into a heated and potentially deadly competition mixed with motherhood.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, House of the Dragon is primarily the story of Rhaenyra, played as an adult by Emma D’Arcy, and Alicent, played by Olivia Cooke, who “navigate the paths of power in a predominantly male world while being raised by fathers who have no idea how to do it.”, while Matt Smith rides kites and chews the scenery.”
He has to find his own voiceThe Hollywood Reporter
“We spend most of our time in King’s Landing, whereas in the original series we were walking around the entire kingdom,” Finberg writes. “That means a lot of Targaryens and a lot of incest.”
There’s also “a lot of impressive stuff in the first six episodes,” Finberg wrote. But he added, “The show needs to find its voice, though if that voice stays this long on the Targaryen side, winter may be coming for my former curiosity.”
“It’s a bit like the current HBO hit Succession, with kites instead of helicopters.”
The characters are flat in House of Dragons
Hal adds, “That kind of seriousness doesn’t translate into attention-grabbing drama, though. There is a lot of sitting around tables and talking about the travails of the kingdom, which would be fine if it were moderate.
“But the characters are flat, pressed into Martin’s factory line of epic fantasy production. And when the show gets into battles or romance, the filmmaking feels like it’s done by heart, too, but without the overlay of fast-paced special effects that Game of Thrones offers.”
Rollingstone magazine gave a negative review, saying that House of the Dragon contains “all the courtly intrigue of the original series, but without the same energy”.
The characters are “almost all boring,” while filling the entire series with “a mostly Targaryen gang gives the whole project a Star Trek prequel feel,” wrote Alan Sepinwall.
“While Smith is very impressive on camera, his performance is a little too similar to Prince Philip, who he played in The Crown. He plays Demon as a sullen, overgrown child, rather than a mystical hardened warrior, as the show wants to portray him.”
Sepinval concludes: “No matter how many computer-generated dragons there are, the new series will not warm the hearts of Game of Thrones fans.”