The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 115 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/Spanish/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Natalie Portman, Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Scott Thomas, Mark Rylance
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
Music by: Paul Cantelon
Written by: Peter Morgan
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 10, 2008
"Blind ambition can sometimes have disastrous effects"
Based on the best-selling novel The Other Boleyn Girl is a captivating tale of intrigue romance and betrayal starring Natalie Portman Scarlett Johansson and Eric Bana. Two sisters Anne (Portman) and Mary (Johansson) are driven by their ambitious family to seduce the king of England (Bana) in order to advance their position in court. What starts as an opportunity for the girls to increase the family fortune becomes a deadly rivalry to capture the heart of a king and stay alive.
I had seen the trailer for The other Boleyn girl late last year and thought it looked interesting. It is based on the novel of the same name by Philippa Gregory. This was an interesting film from a historical perspective. It drove home quite well the desperate need of some families for power and status. It detailed how women were used in furtherance of that need. In this case it was the will of the Boleyn’s (led by their father and his brother-in-law) to elevate their family to a position of prominence within the English Kingdom of Henry the VIII. The belief is that the King is unhappy in his marriage with a wife who cannot bear him a son and heir to the throne. Their plan is to have their Daughter Anne seduce the King while he is visiting which will eventually lead him to bring the entire group back to Court. Through a series of events things don’t work out as planned and the King becomes smitten by Mary Anne’s sister. The problem is that Mary is a newlywed and has no desire to go to Court but wants to settle down and raise a family.
She is coerced by her family and ends up going. From there the story begins a roller coaster ride of adultery, betrayal, passion, and blind ambition the likes of which I have never seen. Portman is one of my favorite actresses and she is clearly the foundation upon which the cast is built. Without her strong performance as Anne the story loses its solid footing. Johansson is really coming into her own as an actor. She made Mary a believable and sympathetic character who you couldn’t help but like even though she was an adulterer. I like Eric Bana but I am not so sure that I found his portrayal of Henry VIII to be his best. David Morrissey was much better as The Duke of Norfolk.
I enjoyed this film quite a bit and appreciated its historical significance as well as the strong performances by the cast. There is an alternate ending contained in the Bonus Supplements. Personally I found it to be superior to the one chosen for the theatrical release.
The rating is for mature thematic elements, sexual content, and some violent images. There are scenes that include references to incest, as well as a beheading. This is not one for younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The other Boleyn girlcomes to high definition Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio with an average bitrate of 1.6 mbps.
I had high hopes for this film’s video presentation and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed. I was treated to beautifully vibrant and eye catching colors that looked great when set against the drab interiors used in the film. Detail was exquisite as images looked three dimensional with fine rendering at every turn. There are numerous sequences shot within the dank and shadowy confines of the period dwellings and castles. I never had any trouble making out shapes and visible structure in the uneven light within these areas. Blacks were noise free and crisp with plenty of dynamic range and extension. Exterior shots benefited from the higher contrast used as they looked dynamic and punchy. The downside is that it washed them out a bit. It looked to me like there was some post production filtering done to give certain scenes a desaturated color effect. This spilled over onto flesh tone reproduction which made them look lifeless, lacking in tonal variance, and flat. I found it to be distracting as everyone had the same complexion. This did not negatively impact resolution in any way. Several sequences were intentionally basked in blue and golden hues to gain a desired visual effect. Overall this is a pristine video transfer that is sure to look great on even the largest displays.
The lossless Dolby TrueHD audio hit all of the high points and mated quite well with the program material. This is essentially a dialogue driven soundtrack but it made good use of the surround field to reproduce the music score, ambient background details and a few discretely mixed spatial cues. Low frequency detail had solid weight and depth when used but there was rarely a call for it. Dialogue was rich with excellent tonal distinction and crystal clarity. I enjoyed the open and transparent nature contained in this TrueHD soundtrack as it definitely had a realistic ‘you are there’ feel to it.
I enjoyed the Bonus supplements but would have liked to have seen more on the production itself. There was some great info on the time period and those who were portrayed in the film. There is enough here so that fans of the film won’t feel cheated. I found enough entertainment value so that I didn’t feel that way.
Blu-ray Disc Exclusive Feature
- Inside the Court: A picture in graphics pop up fact track
- Commentary by Director Justin Chadwick
- 10 Deleted & Extended scenes + Alternate Ending
- (HD)Members of the Court: Character Bios
- (HD)To be a lady - A look at life for women during the time period depicted in the story
- (HD) Translate History to the screen - Behind the scenes look at the process involved
- Camera Tests with Director Commentary
- 8 Blu-ray Disc Previews
The other Boleyn girl is not your average “chick flick” type of film. It takes a hard look at the realities associated with life for upper class women during a turbulent time in England (and probably other parts of the world as well). I appreciated its direct story telling, historical significance, and solid casting. Sony is releasing it on Blu-ray Disc Day and Date with DVD and this presentation is easily worth the price of admission. Recommended.
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Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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