Picture: B+ Sound: B Extras: B Film: B
Before Ray (2004), Jamie Foxx was thought of
mostly as a really good comic actor from his stand-up and work on TV shows like
In Living Color and a later sitcom
that bared his name. However, he worked
very hard at trying to be Ray Charles and even had the real Ray Charles
teaching him before his passing.
Producer/director Taylor Hackford had been working on getting this film
made for years and years. Finally, it
all came together and the result was a critical and commercial success that
remains the best film he’ll likely ever direct.
there is Foxx’s performance. Those who
watched In Living Color and knew his
talents wondered if he could pull it off without being funny. Fortunately for him, Charles had a great
sense of humor in real life and Foxx finds the perfect balance and restraint to
pull off a great transformation as the music legend. He aces it scene after scene after
scene. Though it is the sad tale of yet another
legend whose valleys were almost enough to stop his peaks, drugs and all, the
story of the man and what he achieved is amazing. His life affected others in the long run and
his influence is still grossly
underestimated after this film was the hit it became.
thing the film does is let the greatness of the music reflect the times of
Charles life as each hit becomes another groundbreaking hit, glorious moment of
his talent and lasting legacy for which the film reveals the story behind. Each such moment rings true, adding up to one
of the better music biography films to date, even when it too succumbs to some
biopic formulas. Foxx got the Best Actor
Academy Award despite some stiff competition and the film is a rental
favorite. The cast also includes Regina
King in a standout role, Kerry Washington, Bokeem Woodbine, David Krumholtz,
Terrence Howard, Warwick Davis, Julian Bond, Tom Clark amusing and brief as
Alan Freed and Curtis Armstrong most impressive as Atlantic Records founder and
super music producer Ahmet Ertegun.
in this film works and it is great to see it again looking this good on HD-DVD.
X 1 1080p digital High Definition image is really good, with clarity and detail
only foiled slightly by the decision by Hackford and cinematographer Pawel
Edelman, to every so slightly darkened to almost subliminally remind us of the
past. That makes this one of the best
films, especially of recent releases, in either HD format to date and universal
has no plans for any Blu-rays making this a real exclusive for HD-DVD.
sounds good here, with the classic masters of Charles groundbreaking hits used
effectively and the general mix not bad, if not always expansive since this is
a dialogue based film when there is no music and the setting of the past means
less noise in general. Charles actually
cut new material for the film, which is a plus.
The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is good, but like the standard DVD, the
lack of a DTS soundtrack of any kind is a shame, because the music is so good
and even Dolby Digital Plus has its limits.
Craig Armstrong’s score is not bad either, though can only enhance a
film where Charles’ classics are treated like a character in the film.
are many and include a feature length commentary by Hackford, five featurettes
(covering the women, Foxx becoming Charles among other goodies), the original
theatrical trailer, 27 minutes of decent deleted scenes with optional Hackford
commentary and complete uncut performances from the movie. That is a nicely loaded set a film this good
deserves. Ray holds up to repeated viewings and makes for a super HD
- Nicholas Sheffo