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A wonderful historical drama with phenomenal costume and production work, "Elizabeth" stars Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I, who began her rule at 25 and ruled for years afterwards. The film chronicles the years of her rule and how she fended off assassinations, potential suitors and other such problems. The film is all about confidence; confidence as power, confidence as a shield and confidence as tone.
Director Shekar Kapur may have taken some liberties with the history of the film, but the movie is not insecure about the tale it tells. The film is full of strong emotions, intense colors, defined moments. It steps forward with a cofidence that I found refreshing. Performances are also excellent; Cate Blanchett is funny, smart, witty and very strong as the queen and the film also boasts excellent performances from Geoffrey Rush and Joesph Fiennes(who were both in "Shakespeare In Love" as well).
It's a period thriller- there is a constant sense of danger that's lurking around a corner or only mere moments away. It's that sense of danger along with the excellent performances and phenomenal sets and costumes that make "Elizabeth" royally entertaining.
VIDEO: Not always perfect, the transfer of "Elizabeth" by Polygram looks stunning at times, revealing a palette of breathtaking and accurate colors. The only problem is that a few of the very dark interiors looked a little on the soft side. Otherwise, most of the disc looks crisp, clear and sharp, especially the daylight exteriors, which look goregous. Really, the most impressive part of this presentation is the accurate rendition of the colors; the intense, rich colors are brought forth with no color bleeding. Shadow detail is another element that is worth noting here: in a film that frequently takes place in shadows and darkness, the detail is quite good here. Flesh tones look accurate and lovely throughout, even in the darker rooms. Detail is good, but especially excellent in some of the brighter outdoor scenes. Artifacts are kept to a vary bare minimum- there are really no terrible noticable problems here. The print used by Polygram is excellent. Along with Polygram's other recent special edition of "What Dreams May Come", they really have been doing excellent work lately.
SOUND: A lush, breathtaking sound mix. There are frequent scenes that really bring forth a convincing complete environment- there are many locations in this film that are churches or other such wide-open indoor spaces and there is an incredible detail to the ambience to bring forth the accoustical nature of rooms like that. There are other great instances, such as a bell-tower or a wonderful dance that sound rich, pure and beautifully recorded. The score sounds excellent and clear and dialogue is natural throughout. A pleasant suprise.
MENUS: Nifty animated film-themed menus.
EXTRAS: There are some very good extras here, but not quite enough to justify a $34.98 price tag.
Commentary Director Shekar Kapur gives quite an excellent presentation on this disc, providing an incredible amount of historical information to provide additional layers for the viewer to go further behind what is going on on the screen, talking about the details that went on with these characters and the effects of the choices that they made. I think this has all the elements that I really look for in a solid commentary track; Kapur gives all of the parts equal time and structures the talk about the technical aspects, the history and the characters in a way that keeps the information informative, entertaining and enhances the viewing experience.
Trailers The teaser and full trailers are included.
Documentaries: There is a very good full documentary called "The Making Of Elizabeth" that has interviews with the cast and crew, along with some interesting production and historical information. There is another, smaller featurette that doesn't fare as well- like some of the other recent featurettes from companies like Disney, it just seems like an extended trailer.
Photo Gallery: A pretty solid photo gallery, giving viewers a chance to view some of the costumes and locations a little closer up.
The Film: 85/B = (425/500 possible points)
Video: 93/A = (372/400 possible points)
Audio: 92/A = (368/400 possible points)
Extras: 89/B+ = (267/300 possible points)
Menus: 89/B+ = (178/200 possible points)
Value: 85/B = (255/300 possible points)
Presentation:90.75/A- = (90.75/100 possible points)
Final Thoughts: A little on the expensive side, but the film is quite good and the DVD is of fine quality. Recommended.
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Elizabeth:Special Edition Polygram Home Video
1.85:1/ Dolby 5.1/2.0