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Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) is an A-list film actress. William Thacker (Hugh Grant) is the owner of a small travel bookshop in Notting Hill. By chance, the two meet, forming a quick friendship that will turn into a romance. Due to Anna's fame, the couple is faced with choosing to love each other or go their separate ways, never knowing what could have been.

Notting Hill: Ultimate Edition
Movie
I have been a Julia Roberts fan for quite some time so whenever she appears in a new film, it is always a "must see" for me. And despite a few of Roberts' films being duds in recent years, she continues to ride her wave of success of "My Best Friend's Wedding", "Runaway Bride" and now "Notting Hill".

Roberts is fantastic as the actress who has everything and lets people know it. There were times that I wasn't too fond of her character, yet she pulled it off quite well. Grant as well is the well mannered and at times shy bookshop owner who hasn't quite found what he is looking for in the romance department. At first glance, the pairing of Roberts and Grant as a couple does appear to be a little odd, considering that she is taller than Grant. However, the two are able to pull it off with grace and style.

Some of the funniest moments in the film come from the scene stealing Rhys Ifans, who portrays Spike, William's not so bright roommate. His screen presence is outrageous and he gives the film some of its funniest moments. If for nothing else, watch this film just to see his scene stealing scenes. There is some bright comic talent here!

Video
The video transfer on "Notting Hill" is fantastic! The ultimate edition from Universal is an anamorphic widescreen transfer and displays the colors perfectly. I was not able to detect any evidence of pixelation and the blacks were extremely strong. It just simply looks great.

Also on this 2-disc set is a full screen transfer of the film (for those who think the little black bars are annoying.) Once again, this transfer looks great as a pan and scan transfer. Throughout the film, the picture was smooth and those anti-widescreen viewers will be equally satisfied. However, I urge those of you who don't like the widescreen format to make an effort at watching these films in their original aspect ratio, which includes viewing it with the black bars. Honestly, its not that bad, and you are actually getting the better deal by seeing exactly what you would have viewed if you were in the theater. Okay, rant over.

Audio
Notting Hill: Ultimate Edition is presented in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound on both the widescreen and pan & scan versions with most of the sound coming from the front speakers. In regards to surround sound, the speakers don't utilize them too much. I thought the dialogue was crisp and clear however, I noticed just a few moments where it was hard to hear what was being said because of an overbearing soundtrack. Overall though, it was a typical sounding audio format. Also added is a French 2.0 surround track with English captions and Spanish subtitles.

Notting Hill: Ultimate Edition
Extras
As a two disc set, I was hoping to have a bountiful collection of extra features, however, I am sad to report that is not the case. I am satisfied, however, I think that fans of this film will be disappointed.

Disc one includes a screen-specific audio commentary with director Roger Michell, writer Richard Curtis and producer Duncan Kenworthy. All three individuals were able to contribute something to this commentary which made it an enjoyable listening experience. The commentary runs the gamut from hilarious to technical and then at times not too exciting. For some Americans who just "don't get" British humor the track may come off as being annoying; however I enjoyed it very much. In addition, a subtitle track has been included that allows the viewer to read along with the commentary.

Universal has also included some deleted scenes that includes an alternate ending. Be warned, these scenes are not completed and in rough cut form. However, the standout scenes were the ones that included William's idiot roommate, Spike. These are quite funny and prove that Rhys Ifans is a great comic talent. Overall though, the deleted scenes are unnecessary.

We also have the standard promotion "Spotlight on Location" featurette which covers the production process of the film. Michell, Curtis, Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant and other members of the production team. The feature didn't impress too much, but it was enjoyable for a first time viewing. Next we have the "Seasonal Walk on Portobello Road" which focuses on how the scene was completed. It is presented in a split-screen with the lower half showing Hugh Grant walking down the street and the upper half showing how the season changed around him. This feature was interesting to watch and very informative.

The music highlights feature which shows nine songs and the clips within the movie with them. I felt this was somewhat pointless because it is simply clips from the film featuring the song, however, none the less, fans of a particular song may find it easier to locate the song here then within the film itself.

To complete disc one, is a section called Travel Book. It is in all text format and contains addresses and a map of the shops and restaurants along Notting Hill. Also included are production notes, cast and filmmaker biographies, DVD-ROM features including a script to scene and the official website for the film.

Notting Hill: Ultimate Edition
Discs Two of the "Notting Hill Ultimate Edition" features the pan and scan version of the film, the audio commentary, Travel Book, cast and filmmaker biographies, production notes, music highlights and DVD-ROM features. Also added is Hugh Grant's Movie Tips which is basically footage from the set featuring Grant.

Music is once again featured on disc two which includes the music videos for "You've Got a Way" by Shania Twain and "She" by Elvis Costello.

Completing disc two extras is a photomontage and trailers including the original theatrical trailer and the international theatrical trailer for Notting Hill and the trailer for Erin Brockovich.

Overall
I think Universal has done a fairly decent job with this DVD edition of "Notting Hill". Despite some reservations about some of the extra features, I was hoping for a two disc set that would contain an in-depth look at the film, not just a repeat of features from one disc to the next. I highly recommend this romantic comedy to all viewers. You will laugh and be taken away. Julia proves once again that she is truly magical. Check it out!


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