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Reginald Hudlin
Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, James Cromwell
Writing Credits:
Jacob Koskoff, Michael Koskoff

Young Thurgood Marshall battles through one of his career-defining cases.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3,000,805 on 821 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Video Service
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 1/9/2018

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Marshall [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 11, 2018)

The first African-American Supreme Court Justice, 2017’s Marshall takes a look at the life of Thurgood Marshall. Set in 1941, we meet Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) as a young civil rights lawyer who works for the NAACP.

In Connecticut, white socialite Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson) asserts that her African-American driver Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown) raped and assaulted her. Along with local attorney Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), Marshall mounts a defense of the accused chauffeur.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, “biopics” usually take one of two paths. Either they attempt a broad overview of their subject’s lives, or they focus on a short period of time that seems crucial.

I usually prefer the latter approach, as the former tends to feel rushed and thin. A glimpse of a person that sticks to a fairly tight space offers more room for depth.

While I’m glad Marshall doesn’t attempt to cover the entirety of Thurgood Marshall’s life and career, I can’t claim it offers a particularly introspective look at the man, unfortunately. Although the movie manages to remain consistently entertaining and involving, it doesn’t really tell us much about Marshall himself.

That’s because Marshall really acts more as courtroom drama than as biography. Every once in a while, we get tidbits related to Marshall’s life and career – mainly via spotty glimpses of his wife Buster (Keesha Sharp) – but we don’t learn a whole lot about him.

This makes Marshall a curious affair. As a courthouse potboiler, it provides solid – if predictable – entertainment. We’ve seen scores of stories such as this, and Marshall embraces every cliché it can find – from the haughty judge to the snobby prosecutor to the earnest defendant to the lying accuser, there’s not much new on display here.

But that doesn’t make this a bad drama, and Marshall does pretty well when it explores the legal side of things. It allows the Marshall and Friedman relationship to develop naturally – albeit predictably – and gives us the courthouse sparks we desire.

Which would be fine if Marshall didn’t intend to shed light on its legendary subject. Tell this story with a fictional protagonist and I don’t care about its lack of depth, but since the film comes with expectations of an actual biography of sorts, the absence of true substance becomes a liability.

So if you go into Marshall with the expectation of something in the A Few Good Men domain, you’ll probably like it. If you hope to learn much about Thurgood Marshall, though, you’ll likely encounter disappointment. This is an enjoyable ride but not a deep one.

Footnote: stick around through the credits to hear some quotes from Thurgood Marshall himself.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Marshall appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a fine transfer.

Overall definition seemed positive. Virtually no softness materialized, so the movie appeared accurate and concise.

I noticed no signs of jaggies or edge enhancement, and shimmering was absent. The film lacked print flaws and seemed clean.

Many period pieces opt for subdued palettes, and that was true here. The colors tended toward teal tones, with some amber along for the ride as well. These appeared fine within the film’s stylistic choices.

Blacks seemed dark and tight, and shadows demonstrated good clarity. This added up to a satisfying presentation.

A character drama wouldn’t seem to be a candidate for a whiz-bang soundtrack, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Marshall fell into expected realms. A few scenes used the various channels well, but usually the track remained oriented toward ambience, so don’t expect lots of sizzle from the mix.

Audio quality satisfied. Although didn’t get much score, the music was full and rich, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy.

Speech – obviously an important factor here – appeared concise and crisp. Nothing here soared, but it all seemed perfectly adequate for the project.

The disc opens with ads for Thank You For Your Service, American Made and Brad’s Status. Previews adds clips for The Promise, Bleed For This, Snowden, Spotlight, Dope, Rosewater, Nightcrawler and Before I Fall.

An enjoyable but traditional court-based drama, Marshall offers a decent snapshot of a pioneering figure. Though it keeps us consistently engaged, it fails to become anything creative or new. The Blu-ray offers excellent visuals as well as acceptable audio and no supplements. Marshall delivers an entertaining drama but not one with much depth.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
2 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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