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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Music > Soul > Rock > Country > Ray (HD-DVD)

Ray (HD-DVD)


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.


Then 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.


The smartest 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.


So much in this film works and it is great to see it again looking this good on HD-DVD.


The 1.85 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.


The music 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.


Extras 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 experience.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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