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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - April, 2010

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"Walk the Line" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-april-2010-walk-the-line

Synopsis

Walk the Line chronicles the early life and musical career of Johnny Cash (Phoenix) through his rapid rise to national fame.  Growing up in Arkansas and living the hard life of a sharecropper with his family, his only real friend is his older brother Jack.  Once Johnny turns 18, he joins the Air Force and leaves home.  During his enlistment, he writes his first songs.  Shortly after his discharge, he lands a record deal and is catapulted into his career as a hard-working touring musician.  During this time, he is introduced to drugs and alcohol and he embraces both with abandon.  He spends the next years performing almost constantly and barely treading water with his wife Vivian (Goodwin) and their daughters.  His father (Patrick) shows him little respect as well.  He has the added challenge of having fallen in love with June Carter (Witherspoon) despite both their marriages to others.  Their relationship is a rocky one but finally during a performance in Ontario in 1968, she accepts his proposal of marriage.

 

Specifications

  • 20th Century Fox
  • 2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hrs 15 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC @ 24Mbps
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick
  • Directed by James Mangold
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

This movie was quite enjoyable.  Any fan of music will like this one.  The events in the film seem pretty accurate; at least compared to Johnny Cash’s bio in Wikipedia.  Witherspoon and Phoenix were both nominated for Oscars for this film with Witherspoon taking the win.  Their performances are superb though I would give Phoenix the edge as his role is far more challenging.  They also did their own singing for the film which was surprisingly excellent.  Phoenix doesn’t have quite the baritone voice of the original Cash but his style and technique were very believable.  Witherspoon’s twangy drawl came across well; mimicking the 60s and 70s country style perfectly.  I judge biopics like this by how much they inspire me to read more about the characters and events portrayed.  I headed straight for Google after this one to read up on Johnny and June.  It’s quite fascinating stuff.  Whether you’re a music fan or looking for an interesting true story; this movie comes highly recommended.

Technical

The image is superb although a little short of reference quality.  Color has an appropriately warm appearance.  Fleshtones are unfailingly natural.  You can really see the different stages of Johnny Cash’s addiction as his face changes from normal tones to a whitish pallor.  The scenes on stage are brightly lit making faces and costumes really pop.  There was no evidence of edge enhancement but I did see a bit of softness.  Film grain was present though not distracting.

Audio was flawless during all the musical performances.  The bass lines really pumped on my sub and had me tapping to the rhythm.  The music mix was done extremely well and both Phoenix and Witherspoon are to be commended for their singing.  Spoken dialog was too soft most of the time making me strain to hear it.  Given the quality of the music mix and other sound effects, this was a bit of a disappointment.  Overall though, the music carries the film and I’ve heard little better.

Extras

Bonus features include audio commentary by director James Mangold, deleted scenes with commentary, extended musical sequences, four featurettes detailing the making of the film with documentaries about Cash’s life, and a theatrical trailer.