PictureThe Other Boleyn Girl was shot in HD, a fact that the director points out more than once in his commentary. Such a recent film, shot in the format natively should look gorgeous, and I am pleased to say that it most certainly does. The source print is, not surprisingly, pristine and I could detect no visible flaws with the picture in terms of edge enhancement.
The film displays plenty of depth and is a good example of that 3D “pop” to wow any friends who may be visiting. Contrast level is deep and pronounced, and detail level is ramped up, especially in dark scenes which are always clear, and easy to follow.
The director does tend to use a rather subdued colour palette, and this is a shame as costumes don't quite show the brightness that may have been prevalent at the time. This also means that people's faces also appear rather unnaturally pale. This may well be to fit in with the fashions of the times (being tanned was considered unhealthy, and the whiter the skin - the more noble you were), but the way it is done here does seem rather fake. However, this is a flaw with the way the film is shot rather than the transfer itself.
Overall, then, for a film which is hardly high budget this is actually one of the best transfers I have seen. Certainly, it is hard to see how any SD release could come close to matching this.
SoundAfter the stunning picture, I had high hopes for the included Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, and initially I was impressed. The opening scene is of the three Boleyn siblings as children, running through the grass - and the ambience of this scene is amazing. You can hear the grass rustling in the breeze, and the trees moving behind you. Birds chirp all around the sound field, and you are truly immersed. I sat back preparing myself for an absolute treat.....
Only for the sound designers to seemingly completely forget they have more than three speakers! After the majesty of the beginning scene, there is virtually no attempt to immerse the viewers at all. The sound is very much anchored to the front of the stage, and even here there is very little right and left separation. The rear speakers only spark into life on one or two occasions during the rest of the film.
The sub is also very overused, and whenever horses appear the effect they were trying for was to really make the viewer feel the pounding of the horse. Instead, in these scenes the LFE overpowers the rest of the dialogue to the extent where you just get a booming mess. I had to adjust my sub accordingly.
Apart from these scenes where dialogue is drowned, the rest of the time the dialogue is clear and easy to hear, if rather one dimensional. When people talk in a stately home, I would imagine there is a lot of ambient echo. The chance to bring this to life was here - but sadly it is wasted.
ExtrasAt first glance, there is a lot of material to digest amongst the extra features, with the back of the box promising everything from commentaries, through to featurettes, and trivia tracks. Whereas there is certainly plenty here, a lot of it is rather superficial.
We start, as always, with the director's commentary - and what Justin Chadwick lacks in directorial skill he makes up for on this excellent chat track. He really does reveal a plethora of informative information here, but does so in a consistently entertaining way. He has a natural enthusiasm for the project which really does shine through when he speaks. He covers everything from the technical side of the production (shooting in HD) through to historical background and all points in between. It is a shame that this enthusiasm didn't shine through into the actual film, but this is an excellent track.
We are then treated to 24 minutes of deleted scenes - and the best thing I can say about these is that they deserved to be excised. Had they been left in a turgid experience would have become even worse. We are then presented with three historical documentaries that I was quite looking forward to. The first one I headed to was the 17 minute long Members of the Court Biographies. I was hoping for some detailed historical background, and although some if the information was indeed interesting, this was far too perfunctory to be truly interesting. Translating history to screen (10 mins) is an even briefer look at how the filmmakers achieved the period look, and finally the 11 minute long To Be A Lady looks at the role of the lady at court during Tudor times. All these documentaries would have benefitted from being a lot longer and more detailed - but it seems the producers of the disc expect the average viewer to have just a rudimentary interest in the history behind the story, and that is a shame.
Much more interesting is the Picture in Picture Track - Inside the court. This gives lots of background information whilst the film is playing, and whilst much of it is repeated from the other extra features there is enough here to make it worth a watch on its own (if you can bear watching the film a second time - sometime this job isn't all it's cracked up to be).
Finally, we have BD Live capability, which I sadly couldn't get to work, camera tests, and trailers.
VerdictThe Other Boleyn Girl is nothing but a huge disappointment. History as soap opera can work if handled correctly, but here the story is let down by a terrible script and lacklustre performances from actors who quite frankly should be doing a lot better than this.
The film is served with an excellent transfer - shot in HD this transfer is easily up there with the best that the format has to offer, but is let down by a very flat and one dimensional sound mix.
All the extras from the SD release are here, thankfully, and there are also a couple of HD only exclusive features including an excellent trivia track.
Overall, then, if you enjoy the film then you will want to look no further than the Blu ray release. Sadly, those who have not yet seen it are advised to steer well clear, even if you have an interest in the period. I cannot recommend this film.
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