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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - May, 2011

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"The Kings Speech" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-may-2011-the-kings-speech

Synopsis

Prince Albert (Colin Firth) is the second son of King George V of England. He is second in line to the throne behind his brother Edward, but with the advent of radio he often has to make speeches to the public. Unfortunately, he has been a stutterer since he was a young child and the fear of addressing a large audience practically paralyzes him from talking. He has searched out for help from numerous specialists, but to no avail.

His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) continues to look for someone to help him and comes to find Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist that takes a far more laid back, and unorthodox, approach to his treatment. Believing that there is a mental root cause to his speech issue beyond a mechanical one, and tries to get to the root of that with the Prince but is stopped in his attempts.

As Edward begins to fall for a twice divorced, married woman that the Church of England would never allow him to marry, and as Hitler rises to power and eyes taking over all of Europe, the importance of being able to overcome his inability to speak to provide comfort for his country becomes more apparent to Albert.

Specifications

  • Anchor Bay
  • 2010, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 58 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p, AVC
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Colin Firth, Geofrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
  • Directed by Tom Hopper
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

The Kings Speech was the winner of the Best Picture Oscar this year, and it was a very enjoyable film. While very deliberate in pacing, it is never slow and it really sucks you in. While my vote would have gone to The Social Network, The Kings Speech is a very well made, deserving film that does a wonderful job of recreating the era of 1930’s England while telling a story that most of us had probably never known, bracketed by two stories we probably all know far more well.

Technical

As good as the film was, the picture and sound are a let down on this disc. While some shots come through with fantastic detail, there are far more that are just a bit soft, as if from an older master or too much clean up that is smearing fine details. A forehead can look totally realistic in one scene, and look like there is a thick layer of makeup hiding all the details in another. Similarly skin tones will go from perfectly natural to overly red in a single cut. It’s a shame, as some scenes seem to show what this transfer could be, but overall it is middle of the pack at best.

The soundtrack fares better, but also lacks. While this is a dialog driven film and heavily reliant on the front channels, many opportunities to use the surrounds are missed. When Albert and Logue are in an empty Westminster Abbey as he works on his speech we are only using the front of the sound stage to hear what they are saying, when the surround could be used to provide a sense of the great, large open area they are inside of. They are hardly used when at a party to provide a sense of the noise and ambiance, instead just focusing on using the front of the soundstage to provide the dialog. While everything is clear, and it’s a faithful transfer of the original soundtrack, for a movie released in the past year it’s impossible not to grade it down for failing to take advantage of the immersion they should have provided.

Extras

The Blu-ray features a commentary track, a couple of featurettes, real speeches from King George VI, and a PSA for the Stuttering Foundation.