'Mary Queen of Scots: 4K Ultra HD'
(Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / R / 2019 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: 'Mary Queen of Scots' explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan). Queen of France at 16, widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry and instead returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne.
4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this February with the release of this quite beautifully filmed and cinematically captured, 'Mary Queen of Scots' in the new 4K home video format on February 26th, 2019.
For my money, this 'Mary Queen of Scots: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.
So, what we have is 'Mary Queen of Scots' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: 4K (2160p); HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10; Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.
Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.
Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; like the delicious hues and nuances of he outdoor scenes involving the two Mary's, the countryside rolling up to meet the blue skies so magnificently.
Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably some scenes where the governmental talks are being held in the chambers) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.
As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1.
Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.
Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself. In truth, if you like costume dramas but abhor their sometime surface charms, watch 'Mary Queen of Scots' - a down and dirty and brilliant costumer about 16th-century's Queen Mary Stuart's (Saoirse Ronan) rise and fall.
Cousin to Queen Elizabeth, the two have an uneasy alliance against men who want to depose them and the times that wish to marginalize them but can't.
If for only helping to clarify the succession, from Henry VIII to James, the first king of England and Scotland, this docudrama is worth seeing.
Of course, history is not the main reason to spend 2 hours mucking around gloomy castles. It's the people! Besides the superb portrayals of the two queens by Ronan and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth, a barrage of authentic looking and acting Earls and Knights gossip and plot enough to challenge the audience about allegiances.
In other words, the audience is immersed in the workings of English and Scottish monarchies and religion to a degree rarely seen on the screen.
Because of this authenticity, the audience cares about the players while it gets a first-rate history lesson. When Mary gets her head chopped off, she keeps her dignity and the audience, mindful of Marie Antoinette's end, is saddened, but accepting of monarchs' cruel fates, then and now.
"In my end is my beginning," she embroidered on her estate cloth, perhaps sensing well that her son, James, would one day rule. Tough lady. Great mother. Exemplary acting.
"How much better everything would be, if the two queens were indeed friends! For I see now that the world is not that that we do make of it, nor yet are they most happy that continue longest in it." (Mary to Randolph after death of two Guise relatives).
As for those things that many (oh so many, sadly) others have nitpicked and pulled apart, for me, the major events were pretty accurate - according to history and the events that people are complaining about were rumored to have happened.
Like most parts of private lives of historical figures, there's always some grey area. It just depends on if the story is crafted based on official history or based on rumor at the time. This movie draws from both and so, ultimately, shouldn't offend the masses as much as it seemingly already has!
Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on some of the special features included. One of the most eye-opening is the historically fascinating Something About Marys, that brings both of their histories to the fore in a way that, personally I had not seen before.
The Feature Commentary with Director Josie Rourke and Composer Max Richter is also a doozy, albeit a slowly methodical vocal roll. Neither gets overly excited about anything on screen, Rourke explaining the moment when certain things had to be recalculated due to weather and such.
Richter, a quite brilliant composer in his own right, chips occasionally on where his work, to his mind (and rightly so, as it turned out, of course), enhanced the cinematic event on screen - and why he chose to do certain orchestral works over others, etc. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:
An Epic Confrontation
Something About Marys
Feature Commentary with Director Josie Rourke and Composer Max Richter