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The King's Speech - Blu-ray Movie Review

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The King's Specch - Movie Review

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5 Stars

On the surface, The King’s Speech plays like another obligatory Oscar-season melodrama rife with weighty performances, lofty prestige and convictive import. It is all that. But deeper within its soul, where few filmmakers have the courage - much less the talent - to go, The King’s Speech has another layer of substance. Beneath the stuffed-shirt eloquence resides something far more accessible and more charming - a heartwarming buddy story where the kinship comes from a theme of “the royals are really just like us” and where the comedy is driven by the running joke of a jester’s naiveté poking at the royal aristocracy.

The royalty in this story is Albert (Colin Firth), the second son of King George V (Michael Gambon), who grew up with a speech impediment, which caused him to stammer and stutter for much of his life.  About the only expectation of a turn-of-the-twentieth-century king was to “look respectable in uniform and not fall off his horse.” But with the advent of radio, with its relentless stare of the red “on the air” light, came the necessity of public speaking, which didn’t fall within the realm of a stutterer’s strongest suits.  But Albert is eventually forced to face his greatest fears when his father dies and his brother, Edward (Guy Pierce) abdicates the throne to marry a twice-divorced American woman. Albert becomes King George VI, and periodic live radio broadcasts will become an expected part of a king's duties.

Following several failed attempts to treat his ailment - including marbles in the mouth and heavy does of nicotine - Albert finally consents to the behest of his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), and seeks the help of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a speech therapist who lacks not only a medical degree, but also an obligatory respect for the protocols of British royalty. Lionel insists on calling Albert “Bertie,” and possesses the uncanny knack of emerging from the loo – having just flushed the toilet – each time his royal charge arrives for sessions.

The film begins to crackle with life the moment Rush and Firth first appear on screen together. The story’s gloomy backdrop – stippled by the looming European invasion by Hitler’s army - is beautifully offset by the playful and witty banter of two actors at the top of their game. The film’s supporting performances are to near perfection as well - especially that of Bonham Carter who brings a measured sense of patience and acerbic bite to her role as supportive wife. She perfectly channels the queen mum as a take-charge kind of woman who shaped the role of the monarchy for years to come.

The film’s course could have easily tipped over into absurd farce or fake nostalgia, but in the skilled hands of director Tom Hooper, and with the seasoned experience of Rush and Firth, it maintains a delightful path of touching, witty, significant, and at times, even moving. And that’s what really puts The King’s Speech on the map. It’s so much more than just another British period piece or costume drama steeped in historical significance or factual accuracy. Like 2006’s The Queen, it’s a story about the effect of ordinary people on the vitality of the monarchy and, specifically in the case of The King’s Speech, how a sympathetic teacher befriended a reluctant king and helped him overcome his fears and disabilities to lead the free world to victory over Hitler and his Nazi army.

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The King's Specch - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for some language.
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer
: David Seidler
Cast: Colin Firth; Geoffrey Rush; Helena Bonham Carter
Genre: Drama
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Tagline:
It takes leadership to confront a nation's fear. It takes friendship to conquer your own.
Memorable Movie Quote: "In the past all a King had to do was look respectable in uniform and not fall off his horse. Now we must invade people's homes and ingratiate ourselves with them. This family is reduced to those lowest, basest of all creatures, we've become actors!"
Official Site: www.kingsspeech.com
Theatrical Release Date: December 17, 2010
Blu-ray Release Date:
April 19, 2011.

Synopsis: George VI, also known as Bertie, reluctantly takes the throne of England when his brother, Edward, abdicates in 1936. The unprepared king turns to a radical speech therapist, Lionel Logue, to help overcome his nervous stutter and the two forge a friendship.

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The King's Specch - Movie Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Review:

Available on Blu-ray - April 19, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

The 1080p transfer isn’t going to convert many to the HD format, but it’s simply following the artist’s intentions with the pale and overcast hue that echoes throughout this film.  Detail is a little flat in areas, but no image is ever too dull for the quality of the format.  Interestingly enough, texture is off the chart throughout this transfer, making this an interesting viewing.  The dramatic DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that accompanies Anchor Bay’s release is full of natural surroundscapes and makes the film a totally immersive experience.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Excellence, thy name is Tom Hooper.  Finally, a commentary not just for die-hards of the film, but for anyone interested in the art of filmmaking.  There are very few commentaries this interesting and detailed.  Hooper talks about camera choices, coaching the actors and how certain shots were used or edited for the film.  This is a need to hear commentary that goes into the heart of the construction of the narrative nicely.  Well done, Mr. Hooper.

Special Features:

The supplemental material here does not disappoint.  From a few wartime speeches and an interesting making of featurette that details the history behind the film’s figures and the performances from the cast, these special features – while few – make up a remarkable release from Anchor Bay.

  • The King's Speech: An Inspirational Story of an Unlikely Friendship (23 min)
  • Q&A With the Director & the Cast (22 min)
  • Speeches from the Real King George VI (6 min)
  • The Real Lionel Logue (10 min)
  • The Stuttering Foundation – A PSA (1min)

Playback

  • Region A (locked)

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