Ralph Potts reviews this heartwarming, fact based drama, that tells the story of an unusual bond between two unlikely people from opposite worlds.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Universal - 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 111 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Michael Gambon, Olivia Williams
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Music by: Thomas Newman
Written by: Lee Hall
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: December 19, 2017
"An Extraordinary True Story of a Queen and Her New Best Friend"

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My Take:

Victoria & Abdul is the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s (Dench) remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim (Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that the Queen’s inner circle attempts to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.

Victoria & Abdul is a charming and at times heartwarming story based on actual events that transpired in the late 1800s. Focusing on Queen Victoria’s last years, it depicts her as someone in the doldrums, having grown tired of aristocratic life, and lacking any defining purpose, other than to press on, meeting the daily requirements of her station. When she meets Abdul, a Muslim man, with a twinkle in his eye, and a zest of life, in a way that is so vastly different from hers the pair are instantly drawn to one another. Abdul awakens feelings in Queen Victoria that she had thought were long since gone, and the tow become inseparable companions. This doesn’t bode well with the Queen’s close entourage, especially when she bestows a position of prominence upon Abdul that grants him rights/privileges that far supersede his status.

I honestly didn’t have much interest in seeing Victoria & Abdul, but after hearing positive things about it, mostly from my good friend Dave Vaughn, I opted to give it a shot, and I am glad it did. I wouldn’t say that it breaks the mold of similar films of its type, but the story is compelling and the performances, especially from Dench and Fazal, are very good. It captures the period well and predominantly frames the relationship between Victoria and Abdul, in a way that doesn’t feel melodramatic while establishing a viable connection that supports the narrative’s context. I can’t speak to accurate the details are, but, Victoria & Abdul contains enough wit, elegance, charm and drama to make for a well-rounded film that I found enjoyable.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide: 

The rating is for some thematic elements and language.

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.**

Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones: 
  • Compression: 

Victoria & Abdul comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 36 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.

This is a solid looking high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail with sharp edges and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective during wide angle camera pans. Colors range from warm, vivid and inviting to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Blacks are rich and noticeably deep with a slight boost to contrast that is just enough to give the video a visually dynamic aesthetic without negatively impacting fidelity. Visible detail in low lit scenes/backgrounds is quite good, offering discernible depth of field. I didn’t see any obvious signs of video related artifacts as the video had a pristine and generally pleasing quality.

This is essentially a dialog driven film however there are aspects of the presentation that make effective use of the rear channels to expand the soundstage. Dialogue is crystal clear with discerning vocal description and refined texture. The mix relies heavily upon the front three channels. Separation, imaging and directional spacing are excellent as the mix of dialogue, music and recorded sounds are clearly articulated. The LFE channel is used primarily for subtle impact and for upper bass frequencies associated with the film’s music.

Bonus Features:
  • Judi & Ali Featurette
  • The Look of Victoria & Abdul Featurette
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital HD Copy
Final Thoughts:

Victoria & Abdul is a charming and at times heartwarming story based on actual events that took place in the latter years of Queen Victoria’s rule. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, gratifying lossless sound, and a middling supplemental package. Victoria & Abdul turned out to be better than expected, and is a solid rental choice on Blu-ray.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems