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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Biography > Music > Walk The Line (2005/Fox Blu-ray)

Walk The Line (2005/Fox Blu-ray)


Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: B     Film: B+



Remember when Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t so crazy?  Oh how time flies…when you are throwing your career out the window.  Finally, on Blu-ray audiences get to enjoy the James Mangold directed Walk the Line.  The film that chronicles the rise and fall and rise again of singer/song writer/American icon Johnny Cash, is a bio-epic that followed a year after the wonderful film Ray (chronicling Ray Charles’ life) and in this reviewers opinion did a better job.  Walk the Line (2005) is a film that can be watched over and over again as the story is flowing and the acting is emotionally engaging. Even as the film slows down at parts, every word of dialogue seems epically important.  Not many biographic films can seem so action packed, when the only weapons around are a basket full of problems and a guitar on a shoulder.


Joaquin Phoenix gives the performance of his career as he flawlessly portrays Johnny Cash.  It is more than apparent that Phoenix poured his heart and soul into every moment of the film as he embodies Cash.  His performance is simply breathtaking and becomes eerie as it seems Cash has risen from the grave.  Also in the film is Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash, who is not as flawless in her portrayal of the classic country singer; but good enough to take home the Oscar for her performance.  The performance for Witherspoon was one that stood out as a breakthrough role for her to showcase her depth as an actress.  Whereas she had had memorable roles in the past Walk the Line pushed her ahead of the pack as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.  Other stars show up throughout the film, being equally impressive in their roles as the film stunningly displays the narrative of Johnny Cash’s life.


This Blu-ray is the Theatrical Release of the film (so expect a double dip in the near future) and I am still unsure of what version of the film I like best.  I have such high esteem for the film that I love both the Theatrical and Extended Cuts, but I am unsure what does the film its best justice.  The Theatrical Cut is shorter and more to the point, not dwelling on certain mundane and unnecessary points.  The Extended Cut, however, does not simply slap on some deleted scenes, but rather fills in the rushed sequences nicely; fleshing out the Cash biopic.  I think both have their merits, but the Extended Cut wins by a hair.  For those who can’t wait this version is still nice, but not the best one.


The film begins with Cash backstage in a machine shop at Folsom Prison, as his band (Tennessee Three) plays their ongoing beat waiting for Cash to take the stage for his 1968 comeback tour.  Cash’s mind starts to drift to his past and what has shaped him as a performer and a man.  The film shoots off like a rocket to chronicle Cash’s life from the beginning as the tragic events he experienced as a young child would leave their mark on him forever.  With that one event Cash would be a changed man, scarred by the words of a heartbroken father (played by Robert Patrick).  The film jumps ahead as Cash goes into military service and we see him develop his musical talents.  We travel through Cash’s life with success, failure, marriages, infidelities, drug addiction and most importantly salvation all play their part.  Redemption is key to this picture as it is Cash’s redeeming qualities are those that save him; with perhaps June herself being his most redeeming quality.  She was always on his mind and she time and time again pulled him back from his darkest hours.  I think it is this theme that makes me like Walk the Line over Ray; somehow Cash had a more redeeming quality, or at least it was portrayed that way.


For more on Walk the Line please refer to the Extended Cut DVD review listed below:





The technical features of Walk the Line for the first time on Blu-ray are quite nice in all areas of picture, sound and extras.  The picture is presented in a 1080p AVC-1 Encoded 2.39 X 1 Widescreen that demonstrates a crisp and clean image throughout.  The crisp image is only heightened by the stunningly vivid colors and the deep blacks that frame it.  The clarity is nice with only the occasional softness to be noted.  The detail is amazing as each texture pops and every sweat drop or piece of grass is easily visualized.  The sound is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Track that utilizes the full speaker range, encompassing the soundscape.  The music is round and full as each visually stunning scene is taken to the next level of excellence with the crisp/clean sound.  The audio captures the atmosphere of the film perfectly as it is immersive and engaging from beginning to end.  The boom of the bass is perfectly balanced and dialogue comes through with ease.  Even ambient noises twinkle in the background to add another layer of dimension to the film.  Picture and sound are baffling well done and makes me appreciate Blu-ray all the more.


The extras include Audio Commentary by Co-Writer and Director James Mangold; 10 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by James Mangold; Extended Musical Sequences; Folsom, Cash and the Comeback Featurette; Celebrating the Man in Black: The Making of Walk the Line Featurette; Ring of Fire: The Passion of Johnny & June Featurette; Theatrical Trailer.  Any commentary on this Blu-ray is solid gold; solid MANGOLD!  Don’t roll your eyes at me.  In all seriousness the commentary tracks are brilliant as they not only offer a wealth of knowledge on the film’s production, but also Mangold offers first hand knowledge about Cash and his encounters with the man in black.  The featurettes are very well done as are all the extended scenes, which eventually made it onto the extended cut.  Not all the extended songs are present, but there is a fair amount to look at and perhaps the extended cut will house all scenes in the future.


I personally love this film and I love this Blu-ray.  I understand that there will inevitably be a re-release of this film on Blu-ray, but for now I am taking this release for all it is worth and thoroughly enjoying it.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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