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Amma Asante
David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport
Writing Credits:
Guy Hibbert

The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana's loving but controversial marriage to British white woman Ruth Williams put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/6/2017
• “Making Of” Featurette
• “Filming in Botswana” Featurette
• “The Legacy of Seretse and Ruth” Featurette
• Opening Night Gala Premiere
• Trailers and Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


A United Kingdom [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 22, 2017)

Based on a true story, 2016’s A United Kingdom takes us England circa 1947. In that setting, Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland (David Oyelowo) pursues studies intended to prepare him to eventually lead his native land.

During this stay, Seretse meets Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a local clerk. The two fall in love and marry, an action that creates massive controversy in Seretse’s home realm as well as in the UK. The couple deal with these issues and the threat to Seretse’s role as a leader.

On the surface, this tale can’t help but remind me of what happened with Britain’s King Edward VIII, the ruler who gave up the throne for the woman he loved. Kingdom clearly nods in that direction, but it still manages to make its own way.

The film comes with more than a few positives, one of which stems from its basic narrative. Unlike the famous tale of King Edward and Mrs. Simpson, this one lacks familiarity for the general public, so the history gets good exposure here, and it merits the attention.

Kingdom also offers a solid cast. Oyelowo and Pike have become reliably strong actors, and they bring heart and depth to their parts. Throw in quality supporting performers and that side of things holds up its end.

As directed by Amma Asante, Kingdom manages a fairly romantic feel without too much sentimentality. To be sure, Asante could’ve milked the material for all the tear-jerking it was worth, but she tends toward a lower-key vibe that suits the film.

With all these strengths, why does my ultimate impression of Kingdom remain only mildly enthusiastic? I think that while the movie presents a noble enterprise, it never really digs as deep as it should.

That means a largely superficial take on the subject matter. We don’t get a great feel for the core of the Seretse/Ruth romance, and secondary characters tend to be treated in a semi-cartoony manner.

At least that’s true for the white roles. To its credit, Kingdom shows a two-way street in terms of racial judgment, as it initially reveals the citizens of Bechuanaland to resist Ruth as much as the Brits revile the marriage of their white Ruth to a black man.

However, the racial animosity toward Ruth evaporates pretty quickly, as she wins over the locals without a whole lot of effort, while the white negativity toward Seretse remains, and the latter elements feel pat. While I certainly won’t claim that these bad feelings didn’t exist, the movie could’ve explored them in less of a predictable manner.

Still, I do appreciate aspects of Kingdom and I think it ends up as a mostly satisfying drama. It gives us an intriguing look at a valuable story that does right for itself much of the time.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

A United Kingdom appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer seemed largely good but it could be erratic.

Sharpness became a minor weak link at times, as a handful of shots looked oddly soft. I suspect these concerns came from the original photography, as the movie seemed to desire a diffuse look at times, but the instances still appeared “off”, as they gave the image a distracting lack of definition.

I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes were minor at worst. Source flaws remained absent.

As for the palette of Kingdom, it went with a bent toward orange and teal. These choices seemed odd for a period piece, but the Blu-ray reproduced them acceptably.

Blacks showed good depth and darkness, while shadows were mainly good. However, darker-skinned actors could occasionally get a little lost in the low-light shots. I found this to be a mainly positive presentation with some drawbacks.

Given the film’s character scope, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of United Kingdom didn’t boast a great deal of dynamic material. Most of the material focused on general environmental information, with little else to note. There wasn’t much to stand out, but the track did what it needed to do.

Audio quality was quite good. Speech was natural and concise, as the lines lacked noticeable concerns. Music showed nice range and clarity, with a pleasing reproduction of the score.

Effects didn’t have a ton to do, but they were full and clear; the occasional louder elements showed positive punch as well. While nothing here impressed a ton, the track still was good enough for a “B-“.

A few featurettes flesh out the disc, and we start with Making of. It goes for six minutes, 19 seconds and provides notes from director Amma Asante, screenwriter Guy Hibbert and actors David Oyelowo, Jack Davenport, Jack Lowden, Terry Pheto and Rosamund Pike.

As expected, “Making” gives us a few production basics. It offers a few nuggets of information but remains promotional in nature.

Filming in Botswana lasts six minutes, six seconds and features Asante, Oyelowo, Davenport and Pike. As expected, they tell us about shooting on location. This becomes another passable but superficial piece.

Next comes The Legacy of Seretse and Ruth. It goes for three minutes, 48 seconds and includes notes from Asante, Pike, Oyelowo, Lowden, Pheto, Hibbert and actors Vusi Kunene and Laura Carmichael. They give us minor thoughts about the real people behind the movie’s characters in this forgettable clip.

Finally, we visit the London Film Festival Opening Night Gala Premiere. This pieces takes up six minutes, eight seconds and offers red carpet notes from Asante, Oyolewo, Pike, Davenport, Pheto, Carmichael, producer Rick McCallum, filmmaker Sarah Gavron and actor Tom Felton. This becomes another superficial puff piece.

The disc opens with ads for Hidden Figures, Jackie and Rules Don’t Apply. Sneak Peek adds promos for This Beautiful Fantastic and Table 19, and we also find the trailer for United Kingdom.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Kingdom. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Well-meaning and likable, A United Kingdom provides a largely enjoyable drama. However, it lacks the depth it needs to become better than just “pretty good”. The Blu-ray brings us mostly positive picture and audio along with minor supplements. I’m glad I saw the film but I can’t claim it stayed with me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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