King Richard follows the story of how Serena and Venus Williams became the best tennis players in the world. But it doesn't follow them specifically but rather their father Richard Williams who was their coach and helped them achieve success, even if he wasn't the best man in all aspects of his life. An interesting film with Will Smith delivering one of the best performances of his career. The 4K image and the Dolby Atmos track are great, but the extras are on the light side of things, if not more fun than serious. Highly Recommended!
Biopics usually take a formulaic approach to their subject in the form of an inspiring drama that focuses on the subject itself. Joe Bell director Reinaldo Marcus Green and superstar Will Smith did something different with their film King Richard, a biopic about the two best tennis players in the world - Venus and Serena Williams. But instead of centering on those two phenomenal athletes, the film follows their eccentric father Richard Williams (Smith) and how he helped his two daughters achieve their monumental success with all warts that go with it. King Richard is a fantastic film, one that shines yet another spotlight on Smith's acting, while showcasing some great visuals in the tennis arena.
For those that remember the '90s and early '00s, there wasn't a magazine or newspaper that didn't have the name Serena or Venus Williams in it that talked about how amazing those women were at playing tennis. They were charismatic, highly intelligent, graceful, and a dynamite force on the tennis court. It's easy to see why everyone loved these two-star players. On the other side of this, was their father, Richard Williams, who was no stranger to the media in his enigmatic role as coach and father, who had detailed written-out plans on how his two daughters were going to become the best tennis players in the world. To the final serve, those plans came true, just like how he intended since they were young.
King Richard starts in Compton when the girls are still in school and beginning to learn their tennis skills. And just like most of these formulaic biopics, there will be ups and downs along the way. Even though Serena Williams is the more recognizable name now, this film follows the rise of Venus and centers the story on their father as he and his wife Oracene raise their five daughters to become the top of their class. As the film goes on, Richard talks his way into country clubs with his girls to offer the best coaches the opportunity to train them. They eventually land on the famous Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn) which then leads to the second half of the film where the whole family moves to Florida and trains with Rich Macci (Jon Bernthal).
But this isn't so much of a movie that follows every single tennis match of Serena and Venus as it is more about how Richard handled his family and all the emotions he went through to achieve success for those he loves. Even during a segment that resembles the origins of Fresh Prince, the story still seems original and heartfelt as Richard inspires and empowers his daughters to be the best there ever was. It's not all inspiring and sweet though. Like most subjects in biopics, there are downfalls and crusty traits that make these people human. Even though Richard was perfect in his plan for his two daughters, he wasn't so great at his marriage or even his previous life where abandoned his first wife and five other children.
The film makes mention of this in one line of dialogue and never comes back to it, which is a big glaring omission, however, this wasn't necessarily the film to tell that story. King Richard never allows its subject in Richard to be completely praised or hated. There's a fine line of humanity within him as he fights with his wife over how to raise their children and how he tells his troubled and sad past to his kids in order to make them better people. Performances are top-notch by everyone as well with Will Smith turning in yet another fantastic performance, perhaps the best of his career so far. It would be a shame he didn't win this time around for this role. King Richard is a fantastic look at this remarkable family and one father who never gave up hope for his and his family's dream.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
King Richard hits its way to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in a double-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital set from Warner Bros. The discs are housed inside a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve that features the artwork of Will Smith. There is an insert for the digital code.
King Richard comes with a great 2160p UHD 4K transfer with HDR enhancement. This is a 2K upscale, so it's not a night and day difference between the 1080p version and this 4K option, but it's definitely the better way to go.
The color palette is rather warm and natural for most of the film. The green trees in southern California give way to the brown, orange, and yellow houses in the neighborhoods that contrast well with the blue sky above. The many shades of green on the tennis courts along with the neon yellow balls look impressive here. The wardrobe brings out the primary colors as well in the stands. Once in Florida, the color gets a little brighter and more tropical, which is where the HDR really takes shape with some dynamite reds and greens on full display on the screen. Certain shots in the sun reveal a perfect amber glow that lightens up all-natural skin tones. Black levels in nighttime sequences look inky and never bleed over.
The detail has been upgraded as well that revealing some great practical makeup effects on Will Smith, individual hairs on his face, and even textures in the tennis clothing. Even the light hairs on the tennis balls in closeups look amazing and can be distinguished. Wider shots of the court, net, and stands all look amazing and never soft. Textures in the rackets and clothing are exquisite and are never hindered in lower light situations. Lastly, there are no issues with aliasing, banding, or noise. This is the better image of the two versions, even though it's not a completely different change.
This release comes with a great Dolby Atmos track. This isn't the stereotypical action-packed Will Smith vehicle that people are used to. This is more of a dialogue-driven drama than anything, but that doesn't stop the Dolby Atmos track from kicking into high gear from time to time. Sound effects of the tennis ball hitting the racket and court ground sound amazing and full of ferocity and directionality. Other noises of vehicles driving by, the family van driving in the city, and rackets hitting the ground are impressive.
The track really hits full force in crowded stadiums or arenas with fans cheering, and people talking in the background. The use of height speakers in these moments along with rainstorms all sound wonderful and loud. Other than that, it's up to the score and dialogue to take everyone on this journey, which it does. The score always adds to the emotional tone of the film, and the dialogue is always clean, clear, and easy to follow along with, free of any audio problems.
Only about 25 minutes of bonus features are found here, all of which are included on the Blu-ray Disc and NOT the 4K. There are some lighter tones to the extras, but nothing really of note or insightful.
King Richard is an exquisite film through and through. It tells a wonderful story with some incredible performances that are all well-edited. It's s different kind of biopic that pulls the heartstrings in the right moments and reveals just how amazing the Williams' sisters are. This 4K presentation with HDR looks great and the Dolby Atmos track sounds impressive given the type of dramatic film it is. The bonus features are on the lighter side of things as well. Highly Recommended!