Belfast appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a solid presentation.
Sharpness was strong most of the time. Despite a handful of slightly soft shots, the majority of the flick felt accurate and well-defined.
No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. Source flaws also failed to create problems.
After a brief color look at modern-day Belfast, the film switched to black and white and stayed there for the vast majority of the tale. The rare color elements boasted nice range and vivacity.
Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows showed good delineation. All of this left us with a quality transfer.
Despite the movie’s character orientation, its DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack boasted more involvement than expected. Of course, the smattering of violent scenes – such as the pivotal assault early in the story – created an absorbing sense of place and used the channels well.
Quieter scenes worked nicely too, as we got a lot of localized speech and general environmental material that seemed appropriately placed and balanced. Music brought positive presence as well, so this added up to a much better than anticipated soundfield.
Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded natural and distinctive, without edginess or other issues, while music was bright and full.
Effects were clean and accurate, with fine low-end as necessary. This was a stronger than expected soundtrack for a character piece.
As we shift to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Kenneth Branagh. He provides a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, factual material, liberties and personal impressions, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, photography, the impact of COVID on the production, and connected domains.
From start to finish, Branagh provides a strong commentary. He mixes reflections of his childhood and historical elements with filmmaking domains to make this a thoroughly enjoyable chat.
Two featurettes follow, and A City of Stories runs nine minutes, 47 seconds. It includes notes from Branagh, production designer Jim Clay, costume designer Charlotte Walter, and actors Ciarán Hinds, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Lara McDonnell, Lewis McAskie, and Jude Hill.
“City” examines story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and costumes. This becomes a fairly superficial overview.
Everyone’s Inner Child goes for one minute, 54 seconds and features Branagh, Hinds, Dench, Dornan and Balfe as they relate some childhood memories. It seems insubstantial but amusing.
In addition to an Alternate Ending (5:36), we find three Deleted Scenes. Those occupy a total of two minutes, 44 seconds.
The “Ending” features Branagh as modern-day Buddy on his return to Belfast after many years. It’s interesting to see as a Blu-ray extra but would feel out of place in the final film.
As for the “Deleted Scenes”, they offer minor additions to the story. While enjoyable, they don’t add much of substance.
We can view the “Alternate Ending” and the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Branagh. He gives us some good notes about the sequences.
A look back at his childhood, Kenneth Branagh delivers a quality ‘coming of age’ tale with Belfast. Aided by a good cast and an interesting perspective, the film becomes an engaging drama. The Blu-ray offers solid picture and audio along with a mix of bonus materials. Belfast delivers a likable effort.