Film Length: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 High Definition 1080p
Disc Type: BD-25 Single Layer
Audio: English Uncompressed 5.1 PCM, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish & French
Release Date: April 24, 2007
It seems that British royalty is all the rage these days. With “The Tudors” making a splash on Showtime and Helen Mirren’s big Oscar win, being a Sovereign has never been as fashionable. So, it is with a bit of surprise that I find myself absolutely smitten with The Queen. Elizabeth II is quite a woman and this movie might just surprise you.
As the events surrounding the death of Princes Diana unfold, the British royal family finds itself locked away in their estate in Scotland and ignoring the world. Newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) seems to be the only person in England capable of convincing the Queen (Helen Mirren) that she needs to step up to the plate and actually get involved with the British people. Royal traditions will be threatened as the Royal Family face their biggest challenges since the abdication of Edward VIII.
Firstly, Helen Mirren deserves all the praise that can be heaped upon her for her amazing performance as Elizabeth II. She manages to show grace, pride and a certain amount of shame with a true eloquence that I haven’t seen on screen for quite some time. Secondly, The Queen was a huge surprise to me as the film is incredibly entertaining. I found the situations and characters compelling and extremely interesting. What we are left with is a very subtle and engaging film of surprising complexity.
Disney has made a few changes for this release on Blu-ray. Most notably, Disney has switched over to VC-1 for the encoding job. The results are indeed impressive. The film is presented with a good deal of grain in many scenes and also makes use of a large amount of stock footage. This gives the film a very uneven presentation that is nothing if not authentic looking. I was not fortunate enough to see The Queen theatrically, so I can’t comment on how true to the original theatrical presentation this Blu-ray is. I can, however, comment on this transfer’s complete lack of any compression artifacts, noise, ringing or edge enhancement. The source print seems to be pristine as there were no noticeable dropouts or signs of dirt or grime. All in all, this is a very pleasing transfer but not high-octane demo material.
Disney has provided a PCM audio track for The Queen that is extremely well mannered and very subtle, just like a good Monarch deserves. This is a dialog heavy film and the PCM track brilliantly delivers every hushed whisper and snarky bit of dialog with aplomb. Surround activity is practically non-existent and there is absolutely nothing here that will impress your friends, scare the cat or make your neighbors angry. Instead, this soundtrack handles the source material without fault.
Here’s what’s included:
-“The Making of The Queen”
-Feature Commentary with Stephen Frears & Peter Morgan
-Feature Commentary with Historian Robert Lacey
“The Making of The Queen” is a fairly in-depth behind the scenes look with your standard interviews and on-location shooting scenes. It’s a little more than standard EPK material, but does have a few nice anecdotes. The Frears and Morgan commentary, frankly, bored me to tears. I honestly had trouble staying awake as they offered little less than a running commentary on technical aspects of the film and various meaningless nuggets of information. On the other hand, the Robert Lacey commentary is outstanding. Lacey is a British historian who specializes in the Royal family. This track is full of fascinating stories about the royal family and it gives a huge amount of insight into their behavior during the events of the film.
The Final Analysis:
Great video and a faithful soundtrack are always fantastic things to have in a Blu-ray release. Thankfully, The Queen has all of that to offer. The film, itself, is spectacular. You owe it to yourself to seek out this truly great film.
Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray Player
Panasonic PT-AE1000 Front Projector
Carada 93” diagonal 16x9 Criterion Series/Brilliant White Screen – www.carada.com
Rotel RSX-1056 Surround Receiver
Rotel RB-1080 Amplifier
M&K MX-125 Subwoofer