Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Queen

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
6 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Helen Mirren as HM Queen Elizabeth II
Michael Sheen as Tony Blair
James Cromwell as Prince Philip
Sylvia Syms as HM The Queen Mother
Alex Jennings as Prince Charles
Helen McCrory as Cherie Blair
Roger Allam as Robin Janvrin
Tim McMullan as Stephen Lamport
Douglas Reith as Lord Airlie
Robin Soans as Equerry
Lola Peploe as Janvrin's Secretary
Joyce Henderson as Balmoral Maid
Pat Laffan as Head Ghillie
Amanda Hadingue as Queen's Dresser
John McGlynn as Balmoral Head Ghillie

Special Features:
Commentary by: Director Stephen Frears & writer Peter Morgan, British historian & royal expert Robert Lacey, author of Majesty
The making of "The Queen"

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 103 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Winner of the Academy Award® for Best Actress, Dame Helen Mirren gives a spellbinding performance in 'The Queen,' the provocative story behind one of the most public tragedies of our time — the sudden death of Princess Diana. In the wake of Diana's death, the very private and tradition-bound Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren) finds herself in conflict with the new Prime Minister, the slickly modern and image-conscious Tony Blair. 'The Queen,' also starring Academy Award® Nominee James Cromwell (Best Supporting Actor, 'Babe,' 1995), takes you inside the private chambers of the Royal Family and the British government for a captivating look at a vulnerable human being in her darkest hour, as a nation grieving for its People's Princess waits to see what its leaders will do. Suspenseful, heartfelt and riveting, it's a fascinating story you won't soon forget."

"The Queen" is rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

The Movie:
I can't say I've ever had any interest in British Royalty, but "The Queen" certainly was an engaging film. Like the rest of the world, I was stunned by the death of Princess Diana. This film pulls back the curtain and shows what likely went on behind the scenes among the Royalty and newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Most interesting is the insight into Queen Elizabeth herself. The movie certainly doesn't paint a very flattering picture of her. She comes across as cold hearted, out of touch with her people, and stubborn. She is perfectly portrayed by Helen Mirren. It is one of those rare performances where the actor or actress is so utterly transformed that you no longer see them within the character. Mirren does play Elizabeth with a bit of humanity, but it's only when she's felt the cold, hard slap of reality and public opinion turning against her. It's also unusual to see the Queen cruising around in a Land Rover or chatting with her husband informally. It's not the usual formal and stuffy image we have of her.

Also notable is Michael Sheen as Tony Blair. Blair didn't become well known to most Americans until after 9/11, but we see him dealing with his first political crisis in the film. If anyone comes out smelling like roses in this soap opera, it's Blair. Not faring as well is Prince Philip played by James Cromwell. He comes across as arrogant, insensitive, and a bit of a moron. I have a feeling that none of the creators of this film won any friends in the British Royalty with "The Queen."

The Extras:
This DVD is rather light on bonus features. You'll find two commentaries. One is by Director Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan. The other is by British historian and royal expert Robert Lacey, author of "Majesty." Rounding out the bonus features is "The Making of 'The Queen'". It is a 20 minute video which focuses on the cast discussing how they portrayed real-life people in the movie. It's a unique acting challenge and each actor has a different approach towards it.

The Bottom Line:
"The Queen" is an interesting character study with a little bit of history thrown in. If you have any kind of interest in British Royalty, this is required viewing. Fans of Helen Mirren will also definitely want to see this landmark performance by her.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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