a Victoria & Abdul [Blu-Ray] (2017)
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Stephen Frears
Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Michael Gambon
Writing Credits:
Lee Hall

Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$4,171,870 on 732 screens.
Domestic Gross
$21,951,755. MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
English DVS 2.0
French DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 12/19/2017

• “Judi & Ali” Featurette
• “The Look of Victoria & Abdul” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


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Victoria & Abdul [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 4, 2017)

Does Judi Dench ever make movies in which she doesn’t play a British monarch? Yeah, but it sure feels like she bases her career around various queens.

Dench finds herself in that position once again with 2017’s Victoria & Abdul, a period piece set in the late 19th century. Queen Victoria (Dench) approaches 50 years on the throne, and a “golden jubilee” intends to celebrate this reign.

As part of the occasion, clerk Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) comes from India to bring a gift. This leads to an improbable friendship between the young man and the elderly monarch.

If you go into Abdul with an expectation that you’ll get a movie that breaks new ground, you’ll encounter disappointment. Everything about the film follows predictable paths, as we’ve seen many “unlikely relationship” stories like this.

That becomes a clear negative, especially via the one-dimensional manner in which the movie paints Victoria’s underlings. They all oppose her relationship with Abdul, usually in trite racist/cliché ways. These elements create a tiresome drag on the tale.

Granted, I recognize that the film likely depicts the attitudes of the era well, as I’m sure most Brits did view the Indians in the negative ways depicted here. I just think the movie gives the characters with no sense of humanity or breadth – these supporting roles exist as cardboard caricatures and little more. Victoria ends up as the only semi-full-fledged character of the bunch, and Dench makes the most of the part. She ignores vanity and allows Victoria to emerge, warts and all. Dench becomes easily the strongest aspect of the movie.

Though even the queen seems stuck with script-related flaws. In particular, Victoria seems unusually naïve and forgiving related to Abdul, as she ignores a multitude of concerns. There seems to be nothing Abdul can do to disturb her faith in him.

This means Victoria makes a mix of perplexing choices along the way, all of which go without real rationale. The queen displays unshakable trust in her pal, even when this lacks logic, and the movie never attempts much explanation.

It probably doesn’t help that Abdul comes across like little more than a happy-go-lucky simpleton much of the time. He wanders through the film with little obvious talent or depth – we’re supposed to invest in him due to Victoria’s affection, but he feels too superficial to make a dent.

All of this is a shame, as the film could’ve worked. Instead, it winds up as a one-dimensional effort that wastes a good lead performance from Judi Dench.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

Victoria & Abdul appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a fine transfer.

Overall definition seemed positive. Virtually no softness materialized, sof the movie appeared accurate and concise.

I noticed no signs of jaggies or edge enhancement, and shimmering was absent. The film lacked print flaws and seemed clean.

Many period pieces opt for subdued palettes, and that was true here. The colors tended toward teal tones, with some amber along for the ride as well. These appeared fine within the film’s stylistic choices.

Blacks seemed dark and tight, and shadows demonstrated good clarity. This added up to a satisfying presentation.

A character drama wouldn’t seem to be a candidate for a whiz-bang soundtrack, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Abdul fell into expected realms. A few scenes – mainly related to foul weather. – used the various channels well. Usually the track remained oriented toward ambience, though, so don’t expect lots of sizzle from the mix.

Audio quality satisfied. Although didn’t get much score, the music was full and rich, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy.

Speech – obviously an important factor here – appeared concise and crisp. Nothing here soared, but it all seemed perfectly adequate for the project.

We find two featurettes here. Judi and Ali goes for four minutes, 55 seconds and offers comments from director Stephen Frears, screenwriter Lee Hall, and actors Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, and Olivia Williams.

“Ali” looks at characters, cast and performances. It becomes a fairly perfunctory overview, with a bent toward the promotional side of the street.

With The Look of Victoria & Abdul, we get a six-minute, 46-second piece with Frears, Dench, Fazal, Hall, producers Tracey Seaward and Beeban Kidron, supervising location manager Adam Richards, chargehand standby prop Campbell Mitchell, and costume designer Consulata Boyle.

“Look” discusses sets and locations, costumes and period details. This one offers more depth than “Abdul”, but its length restricts its impact.

The disc opens with an ad for Darkest Hour. Previews adds clips for The Danish Girl, Suffragette, A Monster Calls, Hyde Park on Hudson, The Zookeeper’s Wife and The Theory of Everything. No trailer for Abdul appears here.

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

A tepid drama about an improbable friendship, Victoria & Abdul suffers from too many clichés. These make it a lackluster journey. The Blu-ray brings us excellent visuals along with adequate audio and minor supplements. Despite a strong story at its core, the film never breaks free and prospers.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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