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Blu-ray Review: YOUR HIGHNESS

Jan 15 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride) is second-in-line for the throne, and as such, he doesn’t take his princely duties very seriously. His father, King Tallious (Charles Dance), has sent him on 28 quests, but he hasn’t managed to complete any of them. Meanwhile, Thadeous’ brother Fabious (James Franco) is the epitome of a hero and beloved by the kingdom. He has just returned from his latest quest, along with his bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). But as the couple is about to be wed, Belladonna is kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), who plans to take her virginity and in a bizarre ceremony he refers to as the f*ckening, make her the mother of dragons (literally), fulfilling an ancient prophecy.

Now the useless Thadeous and his trusty squire Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker) join Fabious on his quest to find a magical sword, the only weapon that can defeat Leezar, and help him rescue Belladonna before she is defiled. While Fabious’ servant Julie (Toby Jones) and right hand soldier Boremont (Damian Lewis) aren’t thrilled to have Thadeous along for the ride, Fabious is overjoyed to finally be questing with his brother. He doesn’t see his brother as the inept buffoon that he appears to be. Thadeous, on the other hand, would rather just be at home enjoying leisure in the kingdom.

Along their journey, the brothers will join forces with the stunning and cunning warrior Isabel (Natalie Portman), who’s on a similar quest of her own, and cross paths with evil witches, a creepy pedophile wizard, and a horny minotaur. Their quest also finds them fighting for their lives in a thunderdome, facing off with Leezar’s minions, and facing many other perilous dangers. Can Thadeous be the hero that his brother believes him to be, or is he just a useless screw-up who will fail to save the princess-to-be before it’s too late?!

Your Highness is a raunchy fish-out-of-water comedy, crossed with an classic sword and sorcery fantasy tale, tossed with a buddy road trip action/comedy. Prince Thadeous is a rude, crude, screw-up who is quite out of place among these bold, revered knights on this noble quest to save the princess-to-be. And while he doesn’t seem to fit in, he may be the damsel in distress’ only hope. At its core, the film feels like a straightforward fantasy epic, though one with over the top blood and gore, and a litany of sex jokes and euphemisms. While this humor sometimes feels a bit endless and sophomoric in nature, the film is also quite a solid sword and sorcery tale with tremendous production value. I’m not generally a Danny McBride fan, but I still found this film to be quite enjoyable, with lots of wacky characters and unexpected turns. The acting is a bit campy and over the top at times, but that also adds to humor, and helps to evoke the feeling of those classic, often trashy fantasy films of the 80s and 90s.

While there is a lot of humor, everything is still played quite seriously and matter-of-fact, no matter how absurd the story or characters get, which makes the film even funnier. Justin Theroux particularly chews the scenery whenever he’s on screen, obviously enjoying every minute of playing this bizarre, over-the-top villain. The rest of the cast is also a delight. There is this really fun dynamic between Thadeous and his ever-positive and cooperative minstrel Courtney, which leads to some great moments of physical humor between the two actors. There is also this hilarious love/hate relationship between Fabious and Thadeous, and the relationship between the two brothers develops nicely over the course of the movie. There is also similarly playful banter between Thadeous and Isabel—and Natalie Portman has some really exciting action scenes. I never found myself bored from start to finish, and could easily have re-watched the film immediately, which I guess I did, with the audio commentary.

The Blu-ray includes both a 103-minute R-rated theatrical cut and a 106-minute unrated cut of the film. There isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two cuts, just some minor changes here and there with some additional or different footage, and some dialogue changes to make things a little more graphic (in every way).

Your Highness was previously released 10 years ago on Blu-ray by Universal, but has now been re-released by Mill Creek. The audio and video presentation is excellent. The picture is very clean and looks remarkable throughout, even in the darker sequences. There is a high level of detail in faces and textures, and the effects look quite impressive, blending in perfectly with the rest of the scenes. The audio was even more impressive, making excellent use of the stereo and surround channels to provide a fully-immersive viewing experience. This is noticeable right from the film’s opening title sequence, which plays out like an audio play. We see sketches and drawings as Price Thadeous and minstrel Courtney make their escape from the latest situation Thadeous had gotten them into—he slept with the wife of the dwarf king he was supposed to have signed a peace treaty with! The audio is also impressive in other scenes, such as where there is a bit of an echo in the room, and dialogue remains clear and easy to understand throughout.

The Blu-ray disc comes packed in a standard HD keepcase without a slipcover. Most of the bonus material from Universal’s previous Blu-ray release has been ported over. This includes both cuts of the film, nearly 36 minutes of deleted/alternate/extended scenes, a 30-minute Making Of featurette, and an audio commentary. Missing from the previous release are the digital copy, and four short featurettes—”Gag Reel” (5 min), “Line-O-Rama” (4 min), “Perverted Visions” (3 min), and “A Vision of Leezar” (3 min).



What’s Included:

Film: (Theatrical: 1:42:16, Unrated: 1:45:24)

  • 1080p / Widescreen 2.35:1
  • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Subtitles: English SDH

Extras:

  • Alternate Scenes (2:07)
    Two alternate scenes play back-to-back:

    • “Fab & Court Talk at Camp”
      Fabious tells Courtney how he’s jealous of his brother, while Courtney tells Fabious how his brother adores him.
    • “Fab & Bella Married”
      At the wedding, Thadeous suggests to his father that they go find some weed and get f’d up.
  • Deleted Scenes (8:15)
    Six deleted scenes play back-to-back:

    • “The Quest Begins”
      Boremont questions Fabious about the nobility of his brother.
    • “Heroes Escape Marteetee”
      Thadeous and Isabel argue after the fight.
    • “Shitty Moans”
      Musical duet between Belladonna and Fabious.
    • “Muldiss Darton”
      Thadeous and Courtney talk about the patrons at the tavern. Fabious questions a local about the labyrinth, as Julie lurks nearby.
    • “Labyrinth Hallway”
      Thadeous and Courtney offer to guard the door of the labyrinth.
    • “Birth of a Dragon”
      Just as Fabious is about to declare the quest over, Leezar rises from being presumed dead, and gives birth to a dragon.
  • Extended Scenes (15:13)
    Four extended scenes play back-to-back:

    • “Leezar Chamber”
      In order to try to win her over, Leezar tells Belladonna about the rumors (mostly sexual in nature) he has heard about Fabious.
    • “Campfire”
      Thadeous brags about his abilities in order to try to impress Isabel, and once they are alone, they trade barbs as he fails to seduce her.
    • “Minotaur Love”
      The minotaur roughly rapes Courtney.
    • “Fairies”
      Leezar crushes and snorts fairies as Belladonna questions him about the prophesy and how he’s sure it is true.
  • Damn You Gods: The Making of Your Highness (30:14)
    The cast and filmmakers talk abut how the film came about, how Danny got into acting, casting the film and the auditions, James Franco’s reading on set, the crass dialogue, improv, the well-endowed minotaur suit, the budget, filming in Belfast, and more. Includes fun behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director David Gordon Green, creature and makeup effect designer Mike Elizalde, executive producer Jonathan Mone, production designer Mark Tildesley, and stars Danny McBride (executive producer/co-writer/”Thadeous”), Zooey Deschanel (“Belladonna”), James Franco (“Fabious”), Justin Theroux (“Leezar”), Toby Jones (“Julie”), Natalie Portman (“Isabel”), Damian Lewis (“Boremont”), Rasmus Hardiker (“Courtney”), John Fricker (“Marteetee”) & Ben Wright (“Dastardly”).
  • Feature Commentary (Theatrical: 1:42:16, Unrated: 1:45:24)
    The commentary is available on either version of the film, and starts off with a 30-second on-camera introduction by the participants—director David Gordon Green, executive producer/co-writer/star Danny McBride and actors James Franco and Justin Theroux. The commentary is non-stop and thoroughly entertaining, with the cast and director sharing lots of fun behind-the-scenes stories. They talk about how the film came about and evolved over the drafts, the cast, the improv, and so much more.



Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Film:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Recommended

Your Highness is a solid sword & sorcery fantasy film, with campy and over-the-top performances, and a lot of raunchy humor. This is certainly not a film for those who are turned off by the latter as it is quite prevalent throughout, even in the rated cut of the film. However, as someone who’s not generally a Danny McBride fan, I found it to be thoroughly entertaining and amusing, with lots of fun twists and turns. Mill Creek’s Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent and includes a great selection of bonus material. There’s no reason for those who already own Universal’s previous Blu-ray release to purchase this re-relase as it doesn’t include anything new (in fact, the previous release included a bit more bonus material and a digital copy). That said, the release comes recommended for those looking for a hilarious adult comedy/fantasy adventure, who don’t already own a copy of this amusing film.