Mary Queen of Scots (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Mary Queen of Scots 4K ReviewMary Queen of Scots will forever I’m afraid be known as Johnny Depp’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland where he reprises his role of the Mad Hatter.  I’m joking of course, but you did see the way Margot Robbie looks in the film’s trailer did you not?  The resemblance is uncanny.  Ha ha.  Okay now that I had my fun with that let’s briefly take a look at that subject matter.  Yawn!  The trailer nearly puts you to sleep.  Am I right?  However, what it all comes down to is the fact that the real life incarnation of Harley Quinn, the actress who portrayed her, is in this movie.  For that reason alone I was interested in at least giving this movie a chance.  I know that may be the wrong way to look at things, but I have to justify it.  It’s kind of like that whatever helps you sleep at night kind of viewpoint.

Mary Queen of Scots 4K Review


Mary Queen of Scots is billed as a historical drama.  Drama is the keyword here because sadly there’s not a whole lot of action.  I’m sorry.  I couldn’t resist the primal urge to attack it there.  It’s directed by Josie Rourke and written by Beau Willimon, which is ultimately based on John Guy’s biography Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.  The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots and Margot Robbie as her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.  The movie follows the 1569 conflict between their two respective countries.  Last but not least, starring in supporting roles here includes the likes of Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant and Guy Pearce.  

Before we chat about the movie itself let’s take a closer look at what the general populous and my critical peers thought of it all.  The film received mixed reviews from both.  There was praise, however, for Robbie and Ronan’s performances and costumes.  Surprise, surprise there on the latter.  LOL.  The screenplay on the other hand was scorned a bit in regards to its historical inaccuracies.  The movie did receive three nominations at the 72nd British Academy Awards and two nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 91st Academy Awards.  Robbie also rightfully earned nominations for a SAG Award and BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress.   We also saw a box office take in of over $34 million against an initial $25 million dollars.  So there’s that too!

Truth be told this may be the closest thing I have ever seen to a female version of Braveheart, albeit not a very exciting one like the aforementioned title. I have my reasons for why I make this comparison, but rest assured in an effort to avoid spoilers my lips are sealed. See if you agree with me after your viewing. My problem with this film is it never really goes anywhere for me. Sure there are emotional story arcs and moments for growth, but beyond the two leading ladies and the excruciating long wait to see their meeting nothing really happens. Now that’s not completely true and kind of unfair. You remember an old Iron Maiden song called “The Evil That Men Do?’ Well that perfectly sums up the movie and makes you question. Had it not been for the manipulating men in this feature would Queen Elizabeth and Mary have been best fo friends? That’s the unusual part of this film as the gender roles are flopped around hence why I kind of called this a female version of Braveheart.

So I guess I should come in with more detail about what all goes down here, huh? That would be nice! Well I already mentioned not a lot, but let’s be serious for a paragraph. Mary Queen of Scots explores the life of Mary Stuart (Ronan). She was Queen of France at age 16, but widowed at 18. She defies all peer pressures to remarry and returns home to her native Scotland to reclaim the throne there. Because of birth and religion (I definitely won’t bore you on that tedious subject) she also has a strong claim to England’s throne, which is currently occupied by Elizabeth I (Robbie). Elizabeth also has no husband nor offspring so naturally she feels threatened by Mary. Thus is the conundrum. Is Elizabeth’s fears justified or does Mary just want what’s fair? This movie explores the choices made by both Queens, their love lives, conspiracies, betrayals and more. The fashion in which it does so, viewer beware, is just not that thrilling. Thus the overall experience of watching Mary Queen of Scots ultimately unfold is just a mildly mundane one.

Mary Queen of Scots 4K Review


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Universal’s Mary Queen of Scots.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Dolby Vision: Yes
  • HDR: Yes (HDR10)
  • Size: BD-100
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Mary Queen of Scots is a beautiful looking film to behold on the 4K format. Grain is all in check and the overall image is very organic and earthy looking. In other words its very pleasing to the eyes. Closeups on the actors reveal minute fine details like hairs, freckles and even pox scars. However, the most impressive pieces here are the fine details in the costumes of the period and the amazing beards. I don’t know who did the beard and wig work throughout, but they need to be involved in every film. They were majestic and great looking too. Textures also pop from the many castle walls and stones to trees and bark in the forest. I especially loved the pasty cracks in the white makeup Robbie’s character adorns to cover up the pox scars.
  • Depth: There’s a lot of majestic beauty to take in here. No I’m not talking about Margot, but instead the majestic landscapes to behold and gaze upon here. We’re talking vast beaches, mountains, forest, castle sets and even crowded hallways.
  • Black Levels: The black levels are all natural and pretty great looking despite some of the murky moments and bad lighting conditions. The contrast of the flames really sets things apart with no orbs or blooming present. The flames pop here and ensure nothing gets lost in the darkness of it al.
  • Color Reproduction: Things are for the most part soft and natural looking throughout. There’s a very organic feel to it all. The reds and blues pop out in costumes, but perhaps the most striking and vivacious of colors at all times are the orange wigs Robbie’s character wears as well as her pasty white face. It could literally light up the night sky by the film’s end.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones are for the most part are very natural and healthy looking throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Other than a very light veil of grain there’s really nothing to write home about in the way of distractions.

Mary Queen of Scots 4K Review


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Universal’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Mary Queen of Scots.  I do want you to know that both the 4K UHD Disc and 1080p Blu-ray one houses the same Dolby Atmos surround track.

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: Mary Queen of Scots surprised me with the fact that it arrived on the 4K format with a Dolby Atmos surround track. It actually sounds quite terrific hence the somewhat high score here. The height channels really allow this one to breathe and take advantage of special dimensions, which I’ll talk about in more detail below. This is mostly a romantic drama film so there’s really no robust action sequences, but there is ambiance and a great score that infects the soundscape of everything going on here with no drop outs to dialogue or other little nuances.
  • Height: The height channels as I mentioned up above are fill with well “height.” It takes advantages of the high castle walls and employs ambiance and heightened atmospherics throughout. Other examples of items heard in these channels include score, rain falling, explosions and my favorite…thunder.
  • Low Frequency Extension: This one is surprisingly also strong in the LFE department with thunderous moments of score thanks to the many drums, a few gunshots, explosions and more. Basically the LFE track gives things a sense of heft and engagement whenever necessary.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Continuing on with my praise for atmospherics here includes engagement from the rear speakers filling the room with a sense of inclusion. The score fills them, bird chirps, voices carry, footsteps scuttle and so much more behind you creating that sense of immersion despite this not being an action film.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels are clean and clear throughout the presentation. There were no problems understanding what was said.

Mary Queen of Scots 4K Review


So there’s not much at all to write home about in the Extras category here. We only have three very short featurettes and one audio commentary, which we do really appreciate (they are very rare nowadays). Rest assured too that Universal provides you with a redeemable Digital Copy code so you can watch Mary Queen of Scots in 4K UHD in both VUDU and iTunes giving you the best of both worlds outside of your house.  Let’s take a closer look though at the supplemental materials you’ll find housed on both the 4K UHD and 1080p Blu-ray Discs.

  • An Epic Confrontation  (HD, SDR, 3:58) – Here we take a brief, but closer look at the film’s most built up scene, the meeting of the two leading ladies. This quickly examines how the two actresses prepared their characters for the fateful, first encounter. They rehash in these extras a couple times had it not been for the men in their lives, these two would probably have a much different relationship. After seeing Margot so wretched looking throughout the movie it was kind of shocking to see Robbie in her normal, radiant form.
  • Tudor Feminism (HD, SDR, 3:35) – As I kind of already stated above this quick extra explores how Queen Mary and Elizabeth both ruled in a time when ultimately the men still called the shots. That’s pretty apparent when you watch this feature.
  • Something About Marys  (HD, SDR, 2:24) – This one gives a behind the scenes looks into the bond formed by Saoirse Ronan and the girls who portrayed her four handmaidens in the film. They laughed together, cried together and even sang together on set. Their chemistry created a bond between the entire cast and crew.
  • Audio Commentary – This feature length audio commentary found on both discs includes Director Josie Rourke and Composer Max Richter.

Mary Queen of Scots 4K Review


There you have it folks. Mary Queen of Scots on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray has it where it counts, in the audio and video departments, but ultimately the story and extras are weak. There is an audio commentary (thank you for that), but it doesn’t magically make the story more enticing or thrilling. Story-wise I’m good with everything. All the performances and props worked, but ultimately I just felt like it was a bloated two hours to get to the big moment (which if you asked me, wasn’t that mind blowing either). I came into this simply as another opportunity to see the lovely Robbie, but the truth of the matter is I would be perfectly fine having never seen this either. With these thoughts in mind I can only recommend this one as a rental. For completists like me who need everything Robbie or Ronan is in, then you know what to do. The pre-order link is your best friend down below. Enjoy and thanks for reading!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  The above screenshots are not taken from the actual 4K product.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


Mary Queen of Scots



4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

February 26th




Mary Queen of Scots 4K Review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “Mary Queen of Scots (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Ulises

    Gonna watch just for the Max Ritchter score