Director: Liesl Tommy
Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans
Release Date: November 9, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a young child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice and become the Queen of Soul.
Please Note: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Respect’ tells the story of legendary singer Aretha Franklin and follows her from the early days singing as a child in her father’s church choir, to adulthood and landing a record deal but still struggling to find a song that would become a true hit and finally garner the recognition she deserved. It accompanies Aretha through the good as well as the bad including her first marriage and the strength she had to find in order to rise above those who attempted to control her and her career; eventually becoming the legend we all know today.
Directed by Liesl Tommy (TV’s The Walking Dead) from a screenplay by Tracey Scott Wilson (TV’s The Americans) and a story by Wilson and Callie Khouri, Tommy does a solid job at the helm of ‘Respect’ which marks her feature length directorial debut, guiding along the true story with an obvious passion and respect (no pun intended) for the musician and her story. The film features a cast comprised of some talented individuals and includes Jennifer Hudson (Chi-Raq), Forest Whitaker (TV’s Godfather of Harlem), Marlon Wayans (On the Rocks), Audra McDonald (TV’s The Good Fight), Marc Maron (Joker), Tituss Burgess (Dolemite Is My Name) and Mary J. Blige (TV’s Power Book II: Ghost) along with more, the majority offering quite capable performances in each of their respective roles but never managing to steal the show from Hudson who is simply phenomenal as Franklin.
‘Respect’ is an undeniably entertaining and often quite fascinating film that has a lot going for it both in an iconic individual with a powerful story to tell at its core and an absolutely magnificent portrayal of Aretha Franklin by the talented Jennifer Hudson who nails the performance so beautifully that you often wonder if some of these lines weren’t dubbed over by the real Franklin. It certainly earns points for not disregarding the more painful and unpleasant aspects of her life (albeit doing so at times in a more casual way that often avoids the disturbing specifics) as well as the good and with a powerful and well selected supporting cast that can hold their own alongside Hudson even if they rightfully never steal the show away from her. It’s biggest problem lies in how much ground it attempts to cover in just under two and a half hours which results in things frequently becoming jumbled and mashed together in a manner that causes much of the story to become somewhat difficult to follow along with as it jumps from one element to another with a speed that can be tough to keep up with. Dedicated fans of Aretha Franklin and her life and/or career along with anyone that tends to enjoy biopics that follow the life and struggles of individuals in the music scene will both probably want to consider trying to give ‘Respect’ a shot at some point. It has its issues and is far from perfect, but the story of the legendary singer and the brilliant performance by Hudson as Franklin will both probably make it worth a watch for many.
Overall, ‘Respect’ explores the journey of Aretha Franklin from her childhood and into adulthood through her struggles to find success in a career that wasn’t reaching the level she had hoped for and honestly deserved. It’s a great looking film with a brilliant performance by Hudson but it struggles in its attempt to fit too much content and story into the runtime, often resulting in a somewhat messy and confusing progression. For those who are faithful fans of Franklin’s music and career as well as fans of actress Jennifer Hudson, ‘Respect’ is recommended, especially if you can go in without expectations for greatness. If the story of this woman’s life and musical career isn’t something important to you, than you may want to go ahead and just skip this one, but for anyone already interested in the film it’ll probably be worth a couple hours and the price of a rental to check out one evening.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Respect’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks wonderful as a whole and delivers a clean, smooth and richly detailed, almost filmic presentation from start to finish without any unexpected issues to be uncovered along the way. It holds up great even during the heavily populated performances and darkly lit moments throughout, never allowing anything that’s occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a great high definition video presentation that should easily satisfy fans of the film and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack makes a great complement and offers a crisp, clean and expansive audio presentation throughout. It repeatedly utilizes all seven available channels in order to send the music, along with crowd chatter, some nature content and plenty more throughout the various speakers at every logical opportunity, while always making certain that any dialogue or other simultaneously occurring audio elements remain clean and fully audible. Overall, this is a wonderful Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that does its job splendidly throughout and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Respect’ includes a few enjoyable extras in the way of some Behind the Scenes Featurettes that include interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are ‘The Making of Respect’ (running approximately 7 minutes in length), ‘Becoming Aretha’ (running approximately 5 minutes), ‘Capturing a Legacy’ (approximately 4 minutes), ‘From Muscle Shoals’ (3 minutes) and ‘Exploring the Design of Respect’ (3 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
‘Respect’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from BRON, MGM & Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
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