Elizabeth appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was an inconsistent – and often unsatisfying – transfer.
Sharpness was one of the issues, as significant parts of the movie seemed mushy. The presence of obvious edge haloes caused some of this softness, and the film also could look a bit blocky at times. Much of the flick showed adequate definition, but it rarely boasted sharpness that seemed better than simply pretty good.
No issues with jagged edges popped up, but I saw some light shimmering at times; none of those instances were major, but they occurred. Source flaws were also fairly insignificant. I noticed a few small specks but no prominent defects.
Colors acted as a strength, though they also were inconsistent. Some scenes boasted vivacious hues, but others tended to be a bit ruddy and flat. Still, colors were the best aspect of the transfer; though up and down, they had some nice moments.
Blacks were reasonably dark and tight, but shadows were hit or miss; more than a few low-light shots seemed somewhat mushy. Ultimately, Elizabeth provided a watchable image, but too much of the time, it lacked the sparkle of Blu-ray, so a lot of it just looked like a really good DVD.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix of Elizabeth offered a surprisingly robust sonic experience. Another of my art-house assumptions was that this film's soundtrack would not be up to snuff with the fare meant for a more "widespread" audience.
Again, I was wrong. No, it's not Twister, but Elizabeth made fine use of the various channels through the reproduction of music and a surprisingly high number of ambient effects. Scenes with thunder, fireworks and battle boasted nice involvement of the different speakers and made this an involving soundfield.
Audio quality was strong. Speech consistently appeared natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music was lush and vivid, while effects demonstrated positive clarity and range, so bass response seemed deep and full. The track lacked the constant oomph to enter “A” territory, but it ended up as a solid “B+”.
How did the Blu-Ray compare with the original 1999 DVD? Unfortunately, I was unable to directly compare the two. I thought the DVD looked great in 1999, but I’d be shocked if the Blu-ray didn’t offer superior visuals.
Even with its drawbacks, the picture seems likely to easily surpass the standards of a DVD from 1999. Audio is probably more similar, though I’d expect the lossless DTS-HD mix offered better kick and precision.
Most of the DVD’s extras repeat here, and we open with an audio commentary from director Shekhar Kapur. He offers a running, screen-specific look at what led him to the project, story and script areas, cinematography, cast and performances, editing, themes and symbolism, sets and locations, and some history.
Though the track occasionally sags, Kapur usually makes it move pretty well. He delivers a lot of information and seems honest about his film; he even happily acknowledges elements he lifted from other movies. Despite the slow spots, this becomes a good commentary.
A documentary entitled The Making of Elizabeth runs 24 minutes, 54 seconds and provides notes from Kapur, writer Michael Hirst, producers Tim Bevan and Alison Owen, and actors Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, and Joseph Fiennes. The show looks at story/character elements and the script, cast and performances, sets and locations, and Kapur’s take on the material.
With almost 25 minutes at its disposal, one might expect a good film overview from “Making”. One won’t find such a show, however, as “Making” concentrates more on movie clips than anything else.
“Making” comes with an absurd amount of this footage, so when we get speakers, they tend to offer bland info. A few minor notes emerge – mostly from Hirst – but this is an inefficient program that lacks much good material.
Finally, we get a featurette simply called Elizabeth. It goes for six minutes, four seconds and offers statements from Kapur, Blanchett, Fiennes, Rush, Eccleston, and actor Sir Richard Attenborough. This acts as a long trailer; the participants tell us about story and characters but little else. That makes it essentially a waste of time.
The Blu-ray loses a few extras from the DVD. It drops a photo gallery, some text elements, and trailers.
Though I expected a dull history lesson, Elizabeth brought home a pretty vivid tale. It delivered an engrossing experience capped with strong acting. The Blu-ray offers very good audio and an interesting commentary, but picture quality seems inconsistent and somewhat weak. I like the movie and parts of this release, but the visual problems make it hard to endorse this Blu-ray.