Feb 162019

Mary Queen of Scots is certainly a rich movie in terms of the technical aspects including costumes, hair/makeup and set designs, and while both Ronan and Robbie’s performances were great, the story in of itself lacked much of an emotional punch.



Mary Queen of Scots

Genre(s): Drama, History
Universal | R – 124 min. – $39.98 | February 26, 2019

Date Published: 02/16/2019 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Josie Rourke
Writer(s): Beau Willimon (screenplay)
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce
Features: Commentary, Featurettes
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2
Audio (4K/BD): English (Dolby Atmos), French (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video (4K): 2160p/Widescreen 2.39
Video (BD): 1080p/Widescreen 2.39
Dynamic Range: HDR10
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265 (4K), MPEG-4 AVC (BD)
Region(s): A, B, C

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.5/5

Plot Synopsis: Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary Stuart (SAOIRSE RONAN) defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. However, Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I (MARGOT ROBBIE). Each young Queen beholds her sister in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence.

Review: I’m vaguely familiar with the story behind Mary, the Queen of Scotland and her “controversial” rule that spanned a couple decades before being exiled and ultimately executed following her apparent complicity to have Elizabeth assassinated. In any case, although I didn’t find this telling of her story, and it is primarily hers, Elizabeth is very much a supporting role (more so than what I expected, I guess), Mary Queen of Scots is a visually rich film under Josie Rourke’s direction marking her feature film debut following a career as a stage director; helping is the striking cinematography from two-time Oscar nominee John Mathieson (The Phantom of the Opera, Gladiator), utilizing the beautiful Scottish and English countryside.

Similarly, the 16th century production and costume was equally impressive, the latter with Alexandra Byrne receiving an Academy Award nomination for her work (the film also received a nod for Makeup and Hair). Despite me not really getting emotionally involved with either Mary or Elizabeth’s ploys and distasteful circumstances of the era, the stunning work at least did keep my captivated through the film’s two hour duration.

As for the acting, I can’t really fault Saoirse Ronan or Margot Robbie, as both gave it their all in spite of only sharing the screen for maybe 15-minutes. Perhaps with a tighter script or maybe this were instead adapted into a mini-series allowing the nuances of 16th century political turmoil between the two allowed to breathe, it might’ve made for a more compelling story, plenty in here reminded me of Game of Thrones minus the dragons of course. In any case, the pair do give strong performances alongside David Tennant as John Knox, the real life priest who led a moral revolt against Mary and Guy Pearce as Elizabeth’s chief advisor.

In the end, Mary Queen of Scots is a well made if not also a bit of a forgettable historical drama that is more notable for its costume, makeup and production designs more so than the actual story, in spite of two solid performances from Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. As such, I still say it’s recommendable as a rental especially if you’re interested in the era.



This release comes with a matted and title-embossed slip cover and inside is the Digital HD copy redemption code. Not a packed release, but there are a few featurettes (totaling only ~10 minutes) including An Epic Confrontation (3:58) about the scene when both Ronan and Robbie first met; Tudor Feminism (3:35) on the two women and their challenges of the era; Something About Marys (2:24) which profiles the actresses who play Mary’s attendants; and finally there is a decent Audio Commentary with Josie Rourke and Composer Max Richter as they break down and discuss the project, obviously with Richter on his approach to composing the score.


4K VIDEO – 4.75/5, BD VIDEO – 4.5/5

Universal releases Mary Queen of Scots onto the 4K format, along with Blu-ray, presented in the film’s original 2.39 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 2160p high-definition transfer ((HEVC / H.265 codec)  and 1080p for the Blu-ray. The video looks rather brilliant, showcasing the Scottish landscape in vivid detail while colors are nicely balanced between the darker tones of the era with some nice pops such as with Elizabeth’s wig or the natural tendencies in the costumes. The biggest difference between the 4K and Blu-ray, beyond the former being slightly sharper, is the Blu-ray does show a little more banding which was absent on the UHD.

AUDIO – 4.5/5

Both formats comes with a Dolby Atmos track. This isn’t the most lively movie to begin with outside of one major battle sequence, and even then it was brief, but even so this is an excellent lossless track showing off clear dialogue levels and some decent enough depth making use of the front and rear speakers, where ambient noises are discernible, including the sounds of nature not to mention composer Max Richter’s wonderful dramatic score.


OVERALL – 3.5/5

Overall, Mary Queen of Scots is certainly a rich movie in terms of the technical aspects including costumes, hair/makeup and set designs, and while both Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie’s performances were great, the story in of itself lacked much of an emotional punch, though the history of the two does make it an interesting enough film to at least rent. This 4K/Blu-ray combo pack has excellent video/audio transfers but some lackluster bonus material.




The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.

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