While I never was a diehard fan of Johnny Cash’s music, when trailers for Walk the Line first hit I was intrigued enough to want to see it. While I missed its theatrical run, I caught it on DVD and was immediately impressed by what the film presented. The thoroughness and depth that it explored Cash’s life was amazing and the performances were nothing short of astounding. On top of the acting the songs that Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon recorded for the film was simply astonishing and surprising at how much they sounded like Cash and Carter.
Reese Witherspoon, in her Academy Award winning** performance and Joaquin Phoenix, in his Oscar nominated*** role star in the critically acclaimed Johnny Cash chronicle, Walk The Line. With his driving freight-train chords, steel-eyed intensity and a voice as dark as the night, the legendary “Man in Black” revolutionized music – and forged his legacy as a genuine American icon. Golden Globe winners**** Phoenix (Gladiator, Hotel Rwanda) and Witherspoon (Election, Vanity Fair) star (and sing) as Johnny Cash and June Carter in this inspiring true story of one man’s unwavering devotion to his sound, his message and the greatest love of his life.
Every element that I enjoyed in Walk the Line remained undiminished while watching it again for the third or fourth time. While I had worried that I was going to end up laughing uncontrollably after what Walk Hard did to the Johnny Cash story, I found that the film was so well acted and directed that no amount of parody could hinder this film in the least. While there were elements that I laugh at now that I shouldn’t (in a similar situation, I can barely watch the Batmobile chase in Batman Begins now without laughing after the “Tankman Begins” parody), for the most part Phoenix did such a remarkable job in the title role that it’s rather impossible to “ruin” what he did in any way, shape or form.
One of the most enjoyable elements of the film is the songs and their integration into the story. From his first hit to all of the ones that followed, we see him performing all throughout the film through all of the periods of his life. It’s a remarkably well done movie in terms of pacing and direction, with it never once faltering. It really is probably one of the finest bio-pics I’ve seen and the performances, both acting and song, are what really make Walk the Line shine.
Back in 2008 the film saw a DVD re-release of an extended cut, which wasn’t really anything special other than the deleted scenes that were included on the DVD were spliced in. There were a few “new” deleted scenes, but nothing that really bolstered the film in any new way. In fact, that’s probably the best way to describe the extended cut—the new scenes really add nothing to the film but a longer runtime. It didn’t flesh out anything else or add to the story, it’s just more scenes telling the story of Cash’s life. So those hoping that this Blu-ray release was the extended cut…well, keep dreaming. This is nothing more than the original two-disc DVD release in a prettier A/V presentation.
Oddly enough watching this film again on Blu-ray after having already become accustomed to seeing the extended cut I actually found myself wondering if something was missing before realizing that this theatrical cut is a whole eighteen minutes shorter. Again, not that it affects the flow of the story but it was noticeable after watching the extended cut two or three times over the past couple years. In the end it doesn’t matter which cut it is—this movie is Highly Recommended in whatever form it arrives in.
Fox puts Walk the Line out on Blu-ray in a standard single disc Elite Blu-ray case. It’s a very basic package with only the most basic of inserts and nothing else. The cover is even that of the original single disc DVD edition (they didn’t even re-use that interesting art they had for the two-disc release which I always liked), so it’s clear that there’s really nothing new or fancy with this edition.
The film gets an AVC encoded transfer and, as one could expect from a Fox Blu-ray, it looks fantastic. It’s still a fairly modern film so it’s nice and clear from start to finish with only the slightest hint of grain being delivered throughout. Honestly it was a hard transfer to find fault with as it delivered on all of the high points, although admittedly a few of the distance/stage shots were a tiny bit less clear than they could have been. In the end though it doesn’t matter as the film looks absolutely fantastic anyway.
Audio gets a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and…well, I thought the original DTS mix was loud but this is even better. The track is absolutely awesome, making full use of the surrounds and subwoofer on more than one occasion (the way the film opens and closes with the prison members pounding causes the whole room to vibrate) and with it being a film about a musician, one would expect the music to come through loud and clear…and that it does, completely unfettered.
The extras are all ported over from the old DVD edition and include:
Directors Commentary by James Mangold
More Man in Black: 10 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director James Mangold
Extended Musical Sequences
Rock and Roll Ruby Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, Reese Witherspoon as June Carter
Cocaine Blues Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash
Folsom, Cash and the Comeback
Celebrating the Man in Black: The Making of Walk the Line
Ring of Fire: The Passion of Johnny and June
As I’ve stated multiple times already there’s nothing new to this release. Which is fine—between the content here and the previous DVD releases already this film has had more than enough attention, but those hoping this would be the “be all, end all” of Walk the Line on home video…sorry. It’s still a great package, both in looks and sound, so if you’re looking to just upgrade to a shiny new Blu-ray presentation then this is Recommended.
Walk the Line is now available on Blu-ray.