Battle of the Sexes (2017)

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Released:  Friday, September 29, 2017  
Length:  121 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Genre: Comedy
Rating: Battle of the Sexes is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaSome material may be inappropriate for children under 13.


Synopsis

The electrifying 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs was billed as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES and became the most watched televised sports event of all time. The match caught the zeitgeist and sparked a global conversation on gender equality, spurring on the feminist movement. Trapped in the media glare, King and Riggs were on opposites sides of a binary argument, but off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. With a supportive husband urging her to fight the Establishment for equal pay, the fiercely private King was also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, while Riggs gambled his legacy and reputation in a bid to relive the glories of his past. Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis courts and animated the discussions between men and women in bedrooms and boardrooms around the world.

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Battle of the Sexes Blu-ray Review


The year was 1973.  Equal Rights and Feminism were at the forefront of American People's minds.  Former Champion tennis player and male chauvinist Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell: The Office) spouted off about how women shouldn't be playing tennis in the same league with men and challenged the top female players to a match to prove once and for all the male dominance in the sport. Billie Jean King (Emma Stone; La La Land) was one of those women who was fighting for equal pay for women tennis players during a tumultuous time.  The movie Battle of the Sexes sets the stage for a tennis match for ultimate dominance of the sport and the definitive word on women's ability to play tennis.

Billie Jean King was one of the best women's tennis player in the world in the early 1970's but she was frustrated by the lack of equal pay, competition time and tournaments available to women.  Fed up she, along with promoter and publisher Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman; A Million Ways to Die in the West), set out to create their own tournament.  They had 9 female players on their circuit and created quite a show especially after obtaining backing from Virginia Slims cigarettes. This minor triumph only added fuel to Bobby Riggs' fire to prove that women were inferior tennis players.

Adding to her anxiety, King was exploring the true nature of her sexuality at a time when homosexuality was not widely accepted.  Meanwhile, Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee; CHiPs) another top tennis player, accepted Bobby's challenge and lost, which added pressure to King to play Griggs and beat him.  The Ultimate showdown to place in Houston and was televised live all over the country.  Of course, anyone can Google the results and find out that King's win changed the face of women's tennis and feminism forever.

Stone gives one of the best performances of her career and it is no wonder she was nominated for a Golden Globe award.  She embodies Billy Jean King and the resemblance becomes uncanny.  Carrell also is terrific and the two of them together are a great mix.  Silverman, Bill Pullman (Independence Day), Alan Cumming (X Men 2), and Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas) round out the cast nicely and mesh well together to make for a cohesive cast.

The 1080p high definition video is great but the movie is purposefully grainy to give a feel of actually being filmed in the 1970's as opposed to being filmed ABOUT the 1970's.  The colors are vibrant and true even though the picture looks less than pristine.  The DTS-HD 5.1 audio is solid with the dialogue being relegated to the center channel and the special effects (in this case mostly crowd noise and music) filling the surrounding speakers.  The Blu-ray combo pack comes with a Blu-ray disc, DVD disc, digital download and three extras.  These extras include Raw Footage: Billie Jean's Grand Entrance (without audio), Reigniting the Rivalry, and Billie Jean King: In Her Own Words.  The last featurette is the most interesting of the lot as she talks about the fight for equality and how far we have come in the past 40 years.

While one would think this movie would be inspiring simply based on the subject matter, there is so much more going on that being an inspirational film is only one component of the whole.  It's a love story and a sports film and a drama about life and even though it is not completely historically correct, it does a good job to get the point across. 

Well acted, well written, and interesting, Battle of the Sexes presents a piece of history in such a way to keep the audience interested and emotionally invested.  It deserves all the praise it has garnered.

Grade: B+

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