BATTLE OF THE SEXES Blu-ray Review
It is 1973; Billie Jean King is one of if not the best tennis players around. She and a group of her tennis friends decide that if they can’t get paid equally for the sport then they have to create their own tournament called the Virginia Slims Tour. With the help of her friend Gladys Heldman, they really shake the misogynistic men who feel like they run the sport. While all this is going on, Billie Jean meets a woman named Andrea Riseborough and they become secret lovers.
Tennis pro & gambler Robert Riggs is always one for the spotlight and he will do anything for a bet. So it was a given after he heard about the women and the tournament that he had to do something. To prove that the males are the dominant gender, Riggs challenges Billie Jean to a match but she declines. Margaret Court is the other pro competing for the top spot and she accepts Riggs’ offer. When Court loses, King knows she has to beat Riggs and try to make things change.
BATTLE OF THE SEXES is directed by husband/wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The have worked together on several project together including RUBY SPARKS and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. With this movie, they were able to use the real Billie Jean King and take her experiences to apply them to the film. There isn’t anything that comes across as too far-fetched or out of place. I know that this event really was a big deal especially for women’s rights at the time and it took things in a good step forward.
Emma Stone – Billie Jean King
Steve Carell – Robert Larimore Riggs
Andrea Riseborough – Marilyn Barnett
Sarah Silverman – Gladys Heldman
Bill Pullman – Jack Kramer
Alan Cumming – Ted Tinling
Elisabeth Shue – Priscilla Wheelan
The video is a 1080p AVC presentation that has a nice look to it. It was shot in 35mm so that it could look like it was filmed back in 1973 and not have a digital look at all. There is a grain on the film that fluctuates but it gives the film a little more character. It is also another thing that shows off the details in the video. That’s not to say that the video isn’t clean and sharp because the details are there. You can especially see them in the fabrics and other materials. There is a yellowish tone to the video that has added a vintage look but it is very subtle so it doesn’t alter the colors much. The bright colors in the tennis outfits and other clothing is bold. The makeup is the other little standout with the poor application of foundation and self-tanner that was purposely done for the time period as well as to give the athletes that out in the sun look. Some of the skin tones look natural and some have that tanned-leather look I mentioned. You can especially see it on Emma Stone because she is fair skinned and had to apply a lot of makeup for the look.
The audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that adds some depth to the film. The scenes with the big crowds at the tennis matches surround the home theater with added realism. There’s a clear echoing from the players hitting the balls back and forth plus the intermittent roaring of the crowds. The added recordings of the commentators from ’73 didn’t seem out of place; even with the current actors replaced their characters. The music sounds excellent and the voices come through sounding natural.
SUPPLEMENTS & PACKAGING
-Raw Footage: Billie Jean’s Grand Entrance (No Audio)
-Reigniting the Rivalry: This is a featurette that has some cast and crew interviews that explain how they recreated things for the time period.
-Billie Jean King: In Her Own Words: This is an interview with the Billie Jean about her expertness around the timeframe of the match.
Unit Photography Gallery
Set Design Gallery
2-disc set w/1 Blu-ray and 1 DVD
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian DTS 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1
Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian
THE BOTTOM LINE:
BATTLE OF THE SEXES is enjoyable to watch and taught me a lot about this event that I knew next to nothing about. I feel like even the people who know plenty about the match will get something out of this because you get some good incite into Billie Jean’s mindset. You also get a more intimate look into her relationship with Marilyn and how she juggled her career along with her personal life. I really like the look of the film because filming it in 35mm, you get the feeling of it being shot in ’73 but remastered. The audio has been done well with the vastness of the settings for the matches. The bonus features are also pretty good with the best being the interview with Billie Jean. Overall, I can definitely recommend renting this or picking this up for an enjoyable experience.