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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Review By: Dave Warner