DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Liesl Tommy
Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans
Writing Credits:
Tracey Scott Wilkins

Aretha Franklin's career progresses from a child singing in a church choir to international superstardom.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English DVS
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 145 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 11/9/2021

• “The Making of Respect” Featurette
• “Becoming Aretha” Featurette
• “Capturing a Legacy” Featurette
• “From Muscle Shoals” Featurette
• “Exploring the Design of Respect” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


-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


Respect [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 23, 2022)

In the establishment’s second year of existence, Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. With 2021’s biopic Respect, we get a look at the career that led her to that rarified status.

When young Aretha Franklin’s (Skye Dakota Turner) mother Barbara dies suddenly, she becomes so traumatized that she refuses to speak. To goad her out of this shell, her preacher father CL (Forest Whitaker) gets her to sing at church.

Aretha boasts an amazing voice, but she doesn’t pursue a career in music right off the bat. At 17, Aretha (Jennifer Hudson) finds herself the unwed mother of two children.

When music producer Ted White (Marlon Wayans) comes to a party at CL’s house, he chats up Aretha and pushes her toward the recording studio. This leads to a tumultuous, abusive relationship between the two but it also slowly sets Aretha on the path to musical stardom.

Though it paints Franklin’s life with a broad brush, Respect doesn’t attempt to depict her entire life. The story wraps up when we get to 1972, and it spends most of its 145 minutes with Franklin’s seminal years in the 1960s.

While I feel happy that Respect doesn’t attempt to cover Franklin’s entire multi-decade career, it nonetheless casts an awfully broad net. The movie attempts to cover a lot of ground, and this renders it a thin depiction of the iconic singer’s life.

I’m on record as someone who doesn’t usually care for biopics that attempt to track many years, but I hoped that Respect would overcome this issue because it mostly focuses on a fairly brief period. After a prologue with 10-year-old Aretha, the heavy majority of the flick examines her path during the 1960s.

In theory, this should allow Respect to give us a fairly deep view of its subject. However, it lacks much substance and becomes a superficial take.

Respect alternates between glimpses of Aretha’s difficult personal life and her career. The film doesn’t balance these sides well, and it never quite decides which domain it prefers.

I think the movie would fare better if it largely concentrated on Franklin’s private difficulties. Without question, we find a narrative with real dramatic potential, as we see how Aretha overcomes years of abuse to emerge as a strong, independent icon.

Of course, I understand that Franklin’s music needs to play a part. It would seem bizarre to create a movie about one of the 20th century’s most notable singers and avoid her claim to fame.

Still, viewers don’t need to be told that Franklin was a hugely popular singer with bunches of hits. Her personal story becomes the less known side of her history, so it should take precedence.

And it does to some degree, but Respect can’t find a particularly compelling way to relate this narrative. It just flies through Franklin’s life in such a rushed manner that it fails to really connect.

We simply never get an especially clear view of Franklin as a person beyond her erratic temper. Respect fails to make her into a vivid, three-dimensional person.

Though I think a Franklin biopic should concentrate on her personal life more than her professional career, it comes to life best when it follows her in the studio. Granted, a Classic Albums documentary about this subject would work better, but the glimpses of the creative processes become the most enjoyable aspects of this flick.

Otherwise, Respect mostly meanders from one melodramatic scene to another, and the actors can’t do much with their thin parts. As Franklin, Hudson was far too old for the part, as the actor was nearly 40 during the shoot but asked to play Aretha in her teens and 20s.

Surprisingly, that doesn’t become a major distraction, but the underwritten nature of the role turns into an issue. Respect doesn’t ask much of Hudson than to sing, act indignant and occasionally seem a little lost in the sauce.

I wasn’t sure Hudson deserved an Oscar for her work in 2006’s Dreamgirls, but she still showed decent acting chops, and she continues to display talent here. Her voice got her the role, but her skills as an actor ensure that she gives us a more than competent performance, even if the part doesn’t ask much of her.

All of this leaves Respect as a professional production but not one that ever threatens to really deliver a compelling experience. Despite the natural drama at hand, the movie makes Aretha Franklin’s life story oddly dull.

Footnote: photos of Franklin and footage of a later-years performance run over the end credits.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Respect appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with generally solid visuals.

Sharpness became the main variable, as the film could look somewhat soft at times. I suspect that stemmed from attempts to “de-age” the actors, as so many involved were too old for their roles.

Despite these less-than-precise moments, most of the film brought good delineation, and the mild softness kind of suited the story’s “period feel” anyway. I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and both edge haloes and print flaws also failed to appear.

Despite the period setting, Respect opted for 21st Century Amber and Teal. I don’t get this choice, but within stylistic preferences, the colors felt well-reproduced.

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

In addition, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack worked fine for the material at hand. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, music dominated and used the various speakers well. These elements came to the fore during concert segments, and those offered the movie’s most involving sonic segments.

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 focus on music and characters, 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, those elements lacked much to stand out from the crowd, but they appeared accurate enough. This all added up to a “B“ soundtrack.

Five featurettes appear here, and The Making of Respect runs seven minutes, 20 seconds. It involves comments from director Liesl Tommy, producers Stacey Sher, Jonathan Glickman, Harvey Mason Jr., and Scott Bernstein, cousin/backup singer Brenda Franklin-Corbett, screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson, executive music producers Stephen Bray and Jason Michael Webb, acting coach Lelund Durond Thompson, dialect coach Thom Jones, production designer Ina Mayhew, and actors Jennifer Hudson, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Audra McDonald, Forest Whitaker, Skye Dakota Turner, Marlon Wayans, Mary J. Blige, and LeRoy McClain.

“Making” looks at story/characters/music, cast and performances, and sets. Some decent details emerge, but most of the program feels fluffy and oriented toward praise.

Becoming Aretha spans four minutes, 42 seconds and gives us notes from Tommy, Hudson, Franklin-Corbett, McClain, Bernstein, Thompson, Jones, Wilson, Blige, Bray, Mason, Whitaker and Sher.

As expected, “Becoming” covers Hudson’s lead performance. Like with the prior show, this one includes a few useful notes, but too much of it focuses on plaudits for Hudson.

Next comes Capturing a Legacy, a three-minute, 49-second piece that brings statements from Tommy, Hudson, Wilson, Sher, Bernstein, Glickman, Whitaker, Mason, Wayans, and actor Saycon Sengbloh.

“Legacy” tells us of Tommy’s approach to the material, and it offers little more than a discussion of the director’s greatness. Yawn.

From Muscle Shoals goes for two minutes, 57 seconds and features Hudson, Tommy, Mason, Bray, FAME Studios general manager Rodney Hall, musician Spooner Oldham, and actor Marc Maron.

Here we learn about the recreation of the seminal Alabama recording sessions. Again, some insights emerge, but most of the show self-congratulates about how accurate the filmmakers made these scenes.

Finally, Exploring the Design of Respect lasts three minutes, 37 seconds and includes info from Tommy, Glickman, Hudson, Bernstein, Brown, Mayhew, costume designer Clint Ramos, and actor Hailey Kilgore.

“Exploring” covers various design choices made for the movie. Expect more self-praise here.

Given the nature of her life story, it seems impossible that a biographical film about Aretha Franklin could become anything other than compelling. However, Respect seems so thin and superficial that it makes its narrative oddly boring and flat. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture and audio as well as a smattering of bonus materials. While never a bad movie, Respect fails to engage.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main