REVIEW: Game of Thrones: The Last Watch (2019 – Documentary)

Release Poster – HBO

The following is a short review of Game of Thrones: The Last Watch — Directed by Jeanie Finlay.

Jeanie Finlay’s Game of Thrones: The Last Watch is a feature-length documentary released on HBO a week after the series finale of Game of Thrones aired. Though it does show us the last scenes that several pivotal actors appeared in, the documentary is less interested in the cast and creators than you may have thought. Game of Thrones: The Last Watch is, on the other hand, really a documentary about the unsung heroes of the show. These include production designers, extras, and even those who operated the food truck next to the set.

A lot of people are going to be (and are already) talking about the documentary scene in which we see the table read for the series finale. The most discussed moment is the one where Kit Harrington reacts to the script for the first time and Emilia Clarke knowingly reacts to his reaction. The most fascinating moment in this scene is the one where Conleth Hill throws the script away as his character dies, which perhaps indicates that he was frustrated with his own ending. But those are mere minutes in a documentary primarily concerned with those who experience the show differently.

I wish more people would talk about the documentary’s scenes with the actor playing the Night King, who seems to be enjoying his moment in the spotlight. More people should probably be talking about everything that the aforementioned unsung heroes have sacrificed to make the show what it is. Like, the birthdays and holidays they didn’t get to spend with their families because they had to make sure the wights or the fake snow looked just right.

This is a ‘making of’ documentary about the hardship that went into making every inch of the show you see on-screen. You won’t hear from Benioff, Weiss, Martin, or most of the actors. So you should set your expectations accordingly. But, for what it was, I enjoyed it, even though I think it could’ve been more than it was. It feels scattershot and unfocused in the state that it is in.

I think it could’ve easily been multiple different mini-videos for HBO to put on YouTube. HBO already does this with their ‘Game Revealed’ or ‘After the episode-discussions’. I don’t think the documentary is focused enough to merit a feature-length runtime. Still, though, the one-two-punch of Kit Harrington and Andrew McClay saying goodbye to the show really broke me.

Did I find out about a lot of necessary information about the making of the most expensive show ever made in The Last Watch? Maybe not. However, even though I didn’t know who Andrew McClay was, by the end of the episode, he made me emotional. Other than that? Well, I didn’t know the ‘club’ in ‘Club Sandwich’ was an acronym. That’s the one lesson for which I’ll remember the documentary in the months to come.

That said, I am glad that in a moment where the fanbase is divided and angry, there is a documentary that reminds them of the individuals who sacrificed their livelihood to make a show for all of us to watch. You may have issues with Benioff or Weiss or whomever, but everyone this documentary introduced us to did their job well and should be thanked by the massive fanbase. While I appreciate what Game of Thrones: The Last Watch represents right now, I do think it is inessential and unfocused even if it is momentarily moving.

5.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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