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January 8, 2009
Walk The Line Extended Cut (2-disc) Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
28/10/200512/11/2008FoxJames Mangold
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1MA15+Joaquin Phoenix

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Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter.

When talking about Walk The Line comparisons to the previous years' Ray are inevitable. Both movies look at the life of American music legends. Both their lives were frighteningly similar. Both were drawn into drugs and career slumps as a result and, sadly, both musicians died during production of their respective movies. Playing Johnny Cash is actor Joaquin Phoenix in what is certainly his best role to date while his life love interest June Carter is played by the gorgeous Reese Witherspoon.

Developed for seven years with the cooperation of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Walk The Line focuses on the period in the mid-fifties when rock-and-roll exploded from a tiny studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The film follows Cash's meteoric rise to fame, culminating with his emergence as the 'Man in Black' at his historic concert at Folsom Prison in 1968.

Walk the Line comes to Blu-Ray as an extended cut of the movie which adds in approximately 17 minutes over the theatrical version. Now, we haven't seen the original release so can't say definitively what has been added however we believe some music numbers are extended, and this extended cut also shows a little more of Johnny's writing process.

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Johnny Cash (Phoenix) playing at Falsom Prison.
Walk The Line was released just over a year after Ray and is just as impressive as a movie. In fact, were it not for Jamie Foxx winning Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role the year before we may very well have seen Joaquin Phoenix win the same award a year later for Walk the Line. Each role was perfectly played in our opinions, and both deserving of every accolade. The supporting cast are also impressive including the other band members and Johnny's parents played by Robert Patrick and Ginnifer Goodwin.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this movie is that Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon not only star in the movie, but actually sing each of the songs as well. They really bear a remarkable similarity in tone and pitch to the real singers and there is no question of their talent.

Now I can't say that I'm a big fan of Johnny Cash. I've heard his songs on the radio, sung a few at karaoke (and on SingStar), but am not what you could call a fan. Perhaps I'm a bit too young to know many of the songs - hell, I was born a decade after movie ends - but this movie remained thoroughly engrossing from start to finish, and several songs have certainly stuck in my head. Whether or not you're a fan of Johnny Cash this is a movie worth checking out.

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Jonathan Rice as musician Roy Orbison.

Walk the Line comes to Blu-Ray in the formats typical 1080p resolution, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Rarely does the bitrate drop below 30Mbps according to our PS3 which results in a sharp picture, free of artifacts but full of life. Whether the image is outside in broad daylight, or in the darkness of a concert hall the image always looks sharp and there is a marked improvement over the already impressive DVD release.

This movie is a musical so we had high hopes. We were quite pleased to see then that the main audio track on this disc is a superlative DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. From the opening moments of the movie with the thumping beats at Falsom Prison you know this is something quite special. This lossless track is rich in detail, surround sound channels are used aggressively and the sub woofer will be given a great workout.

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Joaquin and Reese in Walk the Line.
There are two other audio tracks on this release - a French DTS 5.1 track encoded at and a German track with the same specifications. Both of these tracks are impressive. Subtitles are provided in English for the Hearing Impaired as well as an English track for the commentary. There are a swag of other languages provided in the subtitles covering most European languages.

Walk the Line comes to Blu-Ray as a 2-disc Blu-Ray set with the majority of the extras found on the second disc.

Audio Commentary by Co-Writer and Director James Mangold: Admittedly this isn't the most engaging commentaries ever put to disc, but it is still quite informative and entertaining in places. It would have been nice to have a few more participants.

Walk the Line Extended Musical Sequences (HD/16:22): Each of these eight extended musical sequences has an optional video introduction. Impressively these numbers are presented in High Definition with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio. They look fantastic, sound fantastic, and area great just to play as a 16 minutes of music.

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Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash.
More Man in Black Deleted Scenes (HD/6:27): Two deleted scenes are presented here on the second disc. The video is presented in High Definition, but the audio is 'only' Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps. Impressive, and each helps flesh out the story a little more. Each of the scenes also has an optional commentary by Co-Writer and Director James Mangold.

Sun Records and the Johnny Cash Sound (11:48): Numerous music industry personally talk about the special sound which Johnny Cash had, and how he grew up in the Memphis music explosion.

Cash Legacy (15:09): A look at the legacy left behind by the late Johnny Cash. Some great archival photos and interviews with many of the industries greats.

Becoming Cash/Becoming Carter (10:56): A look at how Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon became Johnny Cash and June Carter respectively. The likeness, mannerisms, and audio (each sang their own songs) is nigh on perfect and this featurette looks at how the two actors became the real-life stars.

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Chemistry between Johnny and June is electric.
Folsom: Cash and the Comeback (11:47): A look at the Falsom Prison comeback for Johnny Cash with interviews of people who were around during that era.

Ring of Fire: The Passion of Johnny and June (11:29): This featurette looks at the love between Johnny and June.

Cash and His Faith (11:14): The Cash family was quite religious and this featurette looks at his faith and how it was a major influence in his life.

Celebrating the Man in Black: The Making of Walk The Line (21:38): Finally we get to the "Making of" documentary for this movie which while not overly lengthy, and a little too 'praising' is interesting nonetheless. Stupidly aft this feature we are presented with 5 minutes 40 seconds with of Copyright information in 34 different languages - the joy!

Walk The Line Theatrical Trailer (HD/1:49): The Theatrical Trailer for the movie presented in HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 448kbps.

Much like Ray this is a brilliant movie which looks at the life of one of America's most influential musicians. Presentation on this disc is superb, in particular the audio, and it really is one to add to your collection if you're a fan of the man, the music, or the movie.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.