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Reinaldo Marcus Green
Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney
Writing Credits:
Zach Baylin

Richard Williams attempts to overcome meager financial resources and other disadvantages to raise his daughters to prominence as tennis players.

Box Office:
$50 million.
Opening Weekend:
$5,406,033 on 3302 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio (US)
English Descriptive Audio (UK)
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 145 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 2/8/2022

• “Following the Plan” Featurette
• “Becoming Richard” Featurette
• “Champions on Screen” Featurette
• Two Deleted Scenes


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King Richard [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 6, 2022)

Just as Tiger Woods popularized golf for non-white audiences, sisters Venus and Serena Williams broadened the horizons of tennis. For a look at how this occurred, 2021’s King Richard tells the backstory.

Set in Compton, California circa the late 80s/early 90s, Richard Williams (Will Smith) lives with his wife Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis) and daughters Tunde (Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew), Isha (Daniele Lawson), Venus (Saniyya Sidney), Serena (Demi Singleton) and Lyndrea (Layla Crawford). Richard wants a way out of their violent neighborhood, so he develops a “plan” in which Venus and Serena will become the greatest tennis players of all-time.

To pull this off, Richard needs to overcome obstacles financial, cultural and racial. Through rigorous discipline, Richard pushes Venus and Serena toward greatness.

Spoiler alert: Venus and Serena accomplish all their dad’s goals. No one can ever formally define the “greatest of all-time”, but if Serena didn’t attain that status, she came awfully close, and Venus enjoyed a spectacular pro career as well.

Not that King depicts their glory days. The film covers the sisters’ early years and ends with Venus – the older Williams – on the cusp of her pro career.

Because of their ages, this means we get a lot more about Venus than about Serena. The younger sister wouldn’t emerge into the public spotlight until a few years after Venus became a star, and King firmly wants to track the path to tennis fame, not what the sisters did when they got there.

I appreciate this, as it makes King more focused. I prefer biopics that stick with fairly limited time periods, as broader stories tend to feel superficial and spotty.

This approach also makes sense because – as the title implies – Richard becomes the focal point. In truth, we don’t get very strong portraits of either Venus or Serena, as their personalities stay in the background.

Really, Brandy becomes the second best-developed role here. Even then, Richard so dominates the tale that we don’t find much room for the others, not even with a long 145-minute running time.

Overall, King seems reasonably enjoyable. However, I admit I liked the message more than the movie.

Clearly the Williams sisters act as important role models. They showed that even the whitest of sports doesn't need to be that limited.

So I appreciate that, but unfortunately, this also means the movie lacks much dramatic tension. We know how it'll end, so there's no real suspense or intrigue along the way.

For instance, at one point, Venus gets offered a $3 million contract from Nike - will she take it? Oh, she'll gamble on her skills instead - gee, wonder if that'll pay off?

Sarcasm aside, movies where we know the ending can still be tense - Apollo 13 remains a standout in that regard - but there's just no real drama on display here.

That trickles down to even the parts where "the establishment" questions Richard. We know he'll be proven correct, and not just because we're aware that the Williams sisters became tennis legends.

It's the way the movie paints all the events. It rarely lets Richard be wrong about anything, so whenever he butts heads with "the establishment", we know his POV will prevail. <

Smith does nicely as Richard, especially because he takes a potentially overbearing, unlikable character and adds warmth.

In addition, the movie moves pretty briskly despite its excessive running time. As predictable as it was, I never felt bored.

Still, I'd prefer a version of this tale that feels less sanitized and trite. It's an entertaining enough ride but it could've been better.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

King Richard appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie’s visuals looked good.

The film offered solid clarity. Only a smidgen of softness materialized, so definition was usually positive.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws failed to mar the presentation.

The film opted for a palette with a definite teal and amber tint. Within those parameters, the colors seemed fine.

Blacks were pretty deep and tight, while shadows appeared positive, with only a little opacity on occasion. Overall, the film provided appealing picture quality.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack suited the movie but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could be moderately engulfing on occasion. It's a talky little film, so the focus was mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary.

This occurred mostly via music and environmental ambience – especially in terms of score and songs, as those used the various speakers well. Tennis matches and a few other neighborhood sequences added some range as well.

Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. The score was warm and distinctive.

Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. Richard won't be anyone's demo track, but the mix worked well for the film.

When we shift to extras, we find three featurettes. Following the Plan runs nine minutes, six seconds and offers notes from producers Tim White and Trevor White, executive producer Isha Price, screenwriter Zach Baylin, director Reinaldo Marcus Green, tennis coach Eric Taino, tennis doubles Gianna Twine, Kalli Minor, Ayan Broomfield and Thea Frodin, and actors Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Demi Singleton, Saniyya Sidney, and Jon Bernthal.

“Plan” looks at the project’s roots and development, story and characters, cast and performances, and recreating tennis scenes. Although we get a few useful notes, much of “Plan” remains fluffy and insubstantial.

Becoming Richard spans six minutes, 26 seconds and delivers comments from Smith, Trevor White, Price, Green, Ellis, hairstylist Pierce Austin, makeup artist Judy Murdock, and actor Tony Goldwyn.

“Becoming” looks at Smith’s performance as well as his physical makeover. Like “Plan”, “Becoming” produces some informative content, but too much of it exists to generate praise.

Next comes Champions on Screen, a five-minute, 51-second piece that includes remarks from Sidney, Singleton, Price, Green, Ellis, Smith, Taino, Trevor White, and Tim White.

Here we look at casting and the young actors’ work to play tennis stars. Expect another mix of puffery and minor insights.

Two Deleted Scenes occupy a total of three minutes, three seconds. The first presents a call in which Richard tries to get Rick to come to Compton, while the second focuses on Rick’s attempts to convince Richard to take the Nike money. Both offer minor information but nothing significant.

At the core of King Richard, we find a remarkable and inspirational story. While the movie makes this tale an enjoyable experience, it lacks the depth and meaning it needs to really work. The Blu-ray brings solid picture and audio along with minor bonus materials. Expect an entertaining but superficial biopic.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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