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Mimi Leder
Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Kathy Bates
Writing Credits:
Daniel Stiepleman

Law student Ruth Bader Ginsburg struggles against a patriarchy as she studies law.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$6,070,615 on 1923 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 4/9/2019

• “An Supreme Team” Featurette
• “Legacy of Justice” Featurette
• “A Loving Partnership” Featurette
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


On the Basis of Sex [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 26, 2019)

In the annals of “improbable pop culture celebrities”, Ruth Bader Ginsburg stands high on the list. Supreme Court justices don’t usually get known beyond legal wonks, but “RBG” has become a true “rock star” of sorts. Heck, the producers of Lego Movie 2 even included her likeness as a mini-figure!

Ginsburg also became the focus of two 2018 feature films. While RBG offered a documentary view of the justice, On the Basis of Sex delivered a biopic examination of the subject matter.

In 1956, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) becomes one of only six women at Harvard Law School, also the facility that her husband Martin (Armie Hammer) attends. There she encounters rampant sexism from Dean Griswold (Sam Waterston), Professor Brown (Stephen Root) and others.

Ruth succeeds despite all these pressures against her, and she eventually becomes a law professor. In the 1970s, Ruth takes a case of gender discrimination with a twist: a man (Chris Mulkey) acts as the plaintiff. This decision starts a series of events that eventually leads Ruth to her position as Supreme Court justice.

Spoiler alert? Obviously not, since we all know Ruth reaches the Supreme Court eventually, and Basis doesn’t really follow her route beyond this early case.

Which is fine, as a version of Basis that takes us to Ruth’s her 1993 ascension to that position would require much more than this tale’s 120 minutes. I appreciate the filmmakers’ decision to stick with Ruth’s “formative” years.

That said, Basis still stretches the subject matter a little too thin. We spend more than half an hour on basic exposition that it could sum up more quickly, and I’d prefer a version that stayed firmly in the 70s.

The movie’s major problem stems from its predictable nature, though. While I like the basic story and find it interesting to see Ruth's formative days, the end result feels awfully "by the numbers".

As represented by the patriarchy, we get "villains" who seem cartoony to an extreme, and the film sets up plot points in an obvious, hamfisted manner. We find nothing inventive or creative, so Basis delivers a standard biopic without any real spark involved.

Given Ruth's pioneering career, this feels like a misstep. A cultural icon as unusual as Ruth needs a movie with more of an attitude and a willingness to break from the pack.

Instead, Basis seems safe as warm milk. There's not a surprise to be found, so biopic clichés abound.

The talented cast does well, even if Jones' Brooklyn accent doesn't always stick. Also, the inherent value of Ruth's story makes sure the viewer stays with the film.

However, it still seems like the filmmakers missed an opportunity to do something more challenging and daring. Basis becomes a pleasant movie without anything creative on display.

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

On the Basis of Sex appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with solid visuals.

Sharpness maintained a high caliber of clarity. Interiors occasionally looked slightly mushy, but the majority of the flick seemed well-defined. I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and both edge haloes and print flaws also failed to appear.

Can’t Hollywood at least avoid teal and orange for period biopics? Apparently not, as those tones dominated the film’s palette. Despite the tedious nature of those choices, the colors looked well-represented for what they were.

Blacks seemed dark and deep, while low-light shots offered appealing delineation. This turned into a more than satisfactory image.

Though not as memorable, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine for the material at hand. Music dominated and used the various speakers well.

Effects got less to do and usually offered general ambience. That left us without much in terms of auditory fireworks, but given the story’s character focus, this made sense.

Overall audio quality seemed good, and speech was natural and concise. Music sounded peppy and full, while effects seemed acceptable.

As mentioned earlier, these elements lacked much to stand out from the crowd, but they appeared accurate enough. This all added up to a “B-“ soundtrack.

Three featurettes appear, and we begin with A Supreme Team. In this six-minute, 24-second piece, we hear from director Mimi Leder, producer Robert Cort, writer Daniel Stiepleman, production designer Nelson Coates, costume designer Isis Mussenden, and actors Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer and Kathy Bates.

“Team” looks at story and characters, Leder’s impact on the production, cast and performances, locations, costumes and production design. This becomes a pretty fluffy piece without much depth.

Legacy of Justice goes for three minutes, four seconds and includes Jones, Leder, Hammer, Stiepleman, Cort, Bates, and actors Justin Theroux, Cailey Spaeny, Jack Reynor and Stephen Root.

“Legacy” looks at the impact of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work. Inevitably, it provides lots of promotion and little insight.

Finally, A Loving Partnership features Leder, Theroux, Jones, Hammer, Cort, Bates, Stiepleman and producer Jonathan King. We learn about the Martin and Ruth Ginsburg partnership. Like its predecessors, it brings us happy talk and not much else.

The disc opens with ads for Collette, What They Had, Welcome to Marwen and Mary Queen of Scots. No trailer for Basis appears here.

While its subject blazed a trail as a pioneer, On the Basis of Sex plays it safe. Though it brings us a professional, moderately entertaining affair, the film seems overly conventional and predictable. The Blu-ray brings very good picture along with adequate audio and minor supplements. Basis becomes a serviceable biopic.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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