The Queen appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A release from the format’s relatively early days, the Blu-ray looked subpar.
Some of the concerns stemmed from definition. Sharpness usually seemed good, but more than a few exceptions occurred, as some shots came across as a bit soft and without great clarity.
Edge haloes created some distractions. These weren’t especially heavy, but they seemed more noticeable than I’d like. A few small specks popped up, and the movie took on a somewhat harsh “digital” feel much of the time.
In terms of colors, The Queen went with a decidedly low-key presentation. The hues tended to seem somewhat pale and a little blown-out, though they manifested acceptable delineation at times. Much of this stemmed from the visual design, though even when I factored that into my opinion, the tones tended to be a bit less vivid than anticipated.
Blacks were somewhat inky, and shadows were fairly clear, though a few shots appeared too dense. I thought this was a decidedly lackluster presentation.
Given the chatty nature of the flick, I didn’t anticipate a lively Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundfield, and the movie delivered the expected subdued affair. Dialogue and score dominated the mix, with effects in a passive role.
Those offered a moderate sense of atmosphere without much on display. A couple of scenes – like the recreation of the chase through the streets of Paris – opened up a bit more, but usually the music became the main element in spots other than the center speaker. This was fine for the material, though it didn’t make for a memorable impression.
Audio quality was perfectly satisfactory. Speech sounded distinctive and concise, with no problems connected to the lines.
Effects didn’t challenge my system, but they seemed appropriately full and well-defined given their low-key parameters. Music was rich and lush throughout the flick, as the score appeared well-rendered. This was an appropriate mix for a character-driven flick.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio seemed a little warmer and fuller, while visuals appeared a bit tighter and smoother. The benefits of the format meant the Blu-ray beat the DVD, but it did so by a fairly small margin.
The Blu-ray repeats the DVD’s extras, and it includes two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan.
Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track – this very screen-specific track, I might add. The men chat about the script and changes made for the final flick, sets and locations, research, facts and liberties, and a few general production topics.
Don’t anticipate a great amount of insight during this fairly slow-paced chat. We get a fair amount of dead air, and the remarks tend to be superficial.
These don’t give us a particularly good look at the flick, as the commentary fails to cover the production in a rich manner. A few decent facts emerge along with a smattering of amusingly acerbic remarks, but overall, the commentary doesn’t tell us much.
For the second track, we hear from British historian and royal expert Robert Lacey. He also offers a running, screen-specific discussion.
Lacey looks at facts and liberties in the movie. He gets into research, background for some elements, and issues that impacted the production. Since he also worked as a consultant on The Queen, he can throw in his perspective on his involvement as well.
Lacey’s chat seems more satisfying than the first one. He tells us a lot of notes that prove useful for those of us without much knowledge of the royals, and he offers a decent glimpse of some production issues as well. This isn’t a great piece, but it’s informative and enjoyable.
The Making of The Queen lasts 19 minutes, 30 seconds and gives us remarks from Frears, Morgan, producer Andy Harries, production designer Alan MacDonald, costume designer Consolata Boyle, and actors Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam and Sylvia Syms. The program looks at cast and performances, set and costume design, and thoughts about the film’s subject matter.
Though “Making” doesn’t provide a remotely comprehensive view of the production, it does offer some nice details. I especially like the aspects that look at the actors and their work.
We get good notes about the challenges they faced and how they reacted. This turns into a surprisingly tight and useful program.
The disc opens with ads for Invincible, The Guardian, The Prestige and Déjŕ Vu. No trailer for Queen appears here, but we do get Movie Showcase, a pointless form of chapter search.
My favorite of the 2006 Oscar nominees, The Queen gives us a revealing and insightful look at recent history. We get a good feel for the inside perspective of these events and find a consistently interesting and intriguing take on the participants. The Blu-ray offers mediocre picture with acceptable audio and a few supplements. As much as I like the movie, I don’t feel impressed by this drab Blu-ray.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of THE QUEEN