The Last King of Scotland appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not flawless, the transfer usually looked solid.
Colors stood as a strong point. The movie embraced a warm, rich palette typical of flicks set in Africa, and it depicted those hues well. The tones seemed vivid and dynamic. Blacks were full and dense, and low-light shots came across with good clarity and definition.
Sharpness was usually good, though some exceptions occurred. At times the movie looked a bit soft, though some of this appeared to relate to photography choices. In any case, most of the flick was concise and accurate. No jagged edges or shimmering manifested themselves, and edge haloes remained absent. Other than a little grain at times, the movie lacked source defects. The end result earned a “B+” for visuals.
No notable flaws manifested themselves during the solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. I can’t say I expected much from the soundfield, but it opened up the material well. Scenes with military elements fared the best. These involved the viewer in a lively manner, as the various elements created a good setting. Music showed fine stereo presence, and general atmosphere was very nice. The movie offered a clear three-dimensional presence.
Audio quality consistently seemed very good. Speech was warm and natural, with no edginess or other flaws. Music sounded quite vivid and dynamic, as the score and songs presented excellent response. Effects also appeared accurate and full. Bass response brought out good depth when necessary. Overall, I found myself very pleased by this soundtrack.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-ray compare to the 2007 DVD? The Blu-ray’s lossless audio didn’t blow away its DD 5.1 counterpart, but it added some warmth and punch; it was a bit clearer, I thought, though not enough to boost it into “A” territory.
The visuals also demonstrated improvements, especially in terms of definition. Even with some light softness, the Blu-ray looked tighter and more concise. The Blu-ray offered a decent step up over its DVD counterpart.
We get the same extras found on the DVD. We start with an audio commentary from director Kevin MacDonald. He offers a running, screen-specific chat. MacDonald discusses how he came onto the project, cast and performances, sets, locations and issues connected to shooting in Uganda, music, costumes and period details, and other production notes.
MacDonald provides a consistently engaging commentary. He gives us a nice glimpse of what became involved in the shoot and throws out more than enough details to illuminate his topics. Only a little happy talk comes along the way, so this ends up as a useful chat.
Seven Deleted Scenes last a total of 11 minutes, 43 seconds. We find “Uganda, 1948” (1:44), “The Mission” (0:27), “Good Times (Alternate)” (1:35), “Idi’s Test/Nicholas’ Suit” (1:25), “The Same Woman” (1:03), “The Press Conference (Alternate)” (4:12), “Stone Leaves/Nicholas Prepares” (1:14). “1948” proves moderately interesting as it shows a young Amin, though we simply see him box, so this isn’t particularly revealing. “Conference” doesn’t stand as all that different than the final segment other than the fact it shows the scene in its entirety without cutaways. The remaining segments offer minor character bits without anything substantial. None of the clips seems memorable.
We can watch these with or without commentary from MacDonald. He gives us basic notes about the scenes and lets us know why he cut them. The remarks provide acceptable details about the excised segments.
A featurette called Capturing Idi Amin runs for 29 minutes, two seconds. It mixes movie clips, behind the scenes shots, archival elements and interviews. We hear from MacDonald, Ugandan Deputy Prime Minister/Amin’s finance minister Moses Ali, youth coordinator Chris Rugaba, journalist Jon Snow, author Giles Foden, producers Andrea Calderwood and Lisa Bryer, Amin’s former commander Major Iain Grahame, Amin’s education minister Abu Mayanja, Amin’s physician Dr. David Barkham, extras Joshua and Florence Mabonga-Mwisaka, Amin’s health minister Henry Kyemba, and actors Forest Whitaker, Stephen Rwangyezi, Kerry Washington, Abbey Mukiibi, Michael Wuwayo and James McAvoy. “Capturing” looks at the view of Amin in present-day Uganda, thoughts about the man and his regime, and elements of shooting the film there. We learn about the novel and its adaptation, depicting fact and fiction, and a few other elements of the production.
“Capturing” stands as a somewhat awkward mix of history and “making of” featurette. The best parts come when the show focuses on the former. After the fictionalized movie, it’s good to get a stronger view of the real Amin. However, the mix of pieces connected to the film undermines the concentration on history. These result in an interesting but frustrating show that can’t quite establish its focus.
Next comes Forest Whitaker – “Idi Amin”, a five-minute and 59-second piece. It features Whitaker and McAvoy. They offer general reflections on the story, the characters, and the movie. This acts as a pretty broad promotional clip in which movie clips dominate.
In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session - The Last King of Scotland. In this eight-minute and 36-second program, we find notes from MacDonald, Calderwood, Whitaker, and casting director Jina Jay. We get notes on how MacDonald wound up as director, casting Whitaker, and his performance. Another show with promotion as its emphasis, “Casting” nonetheless offers enough good notes and insights to make it worthwhile.
One note about the extras: they include subtitles but I couldn’t get these to function properly on my player. The text would display in a huge font that left most of the words off the screen. I don’t know if this problem plagues the disc on all players or it was a quirk on mine, but as presented, the subtitles were useless.
Despite an Oscar-winning turn from Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland presents a deeply flawed flick. The tale fails to provide a rich examination of its subject and turns into little more than a cheap, predictable thriller. The Blu-ray offers positive picture with very good audio and a mostly useful mix of extras. Although I can’t complain about the Blu-ray – which delivers the most satisfying rendition of the film to date - I find the movie to be a disappointment.
To rate this film visit the original review of THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND