Jimi: All Is By My Side (Blu-ray Review)

jimi whysoblu coverSometimes you have to work with what you are given.  As John Ridley was going through his award tour last year with 12 Years a Slave (he won an Oscar for the screenplay), he was also touring his film, Jimi: All Is By My Side, a biopic about Jimi Hendrix, through festivals.  This film that he wrote and directed was a passion project of sorts, but also one met with some challenges, the key one being the lack of clearance to use any songs written by Hendrix.  As a result, the film lacks some of the power that could have come from having a song like “Purple Haze” at one’s disposal.  That said, the film still has its merits and it is now available on Blu-ray for all to see what else John Ridley had up his sleeves last year.


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The film features Andre Benjamin as the legendary American musician Jimi Hendrix.  We only get to see a slice of Jimi’s life, but this film mainly focuses on the years 1966 and 1967, where we see Jimmy at some gigs and living life in New York, only to move to London and see his career really take off, following the release of his debut album, “Are You Experienced.”  Within this film we see his relationships with music manager Michael Jeffery (Burn Gorman) and girlfriend Kathy Etchingham (Hayley Atwell), along with music lover/model Linda Keith (Imogen Poots).  Various other rock stars appear as well, as Jimi was around many influential figures, including Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, among others.  Really though, this film is more of an examination of how comfortable Jimi wanted to be in the music scene, with his generally peaceful ways and experimental guitar style.

With this film, I was reminded a great deal of the film Nowhere Boy, starring Aaron Taylor-Johson, which was a look at the early life of John Lennon and also did not feature songs that we know quite well from the famed musician (reasoning is a little different, but still).  While ‘Jimi’ is not quite as good as that film, both have a solid lead performance that is more introspective than anything, as we see a level of concentration and get to know someone who appears to be a regular guy that is a bit more enlightened when it comes to certain aspects of his life.  Benjamin plays Hendrix with a level of natural ease that does not make for the most compelling performance, but does seem like a very comfortable one, especially given how natural I felt Benjamin fit the part, when I initially heard he was cast in the role.

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All that in mind, the film is a bit unfocused, with a lot of lulls in between some of the more significant moments in the film, let alone ones that feature music or simply a great capture of the atmosphere of the times.  While I would not say this is all director John Ridley’s fault, I do think his inexperience shows a bit here, as this major motion picture does not do much to compare to some of the better filmmaking projects he has been involved with in the past.  Instead, we get a film that has a nice timeframe to capture, but sometimes comes off as a bit jumbled, despite some fun with the editing.  John Ridley, the writer, also has some problematic moments in this film, especially given the portrayal of the female characters, but what the film lacks in harder-hitting characters and better structured melodrama, it does make up for in the general mood of the film.

Sure, Jimi: All Is By My Side does not quite have the “Fire” it needs to be a great look at the life of Jimi Hendrix, before he got even bigger, but the film does enough with Benjamin’s performance to make it an interesting experience for at least a watch out of curiosity.  With all of that in mind, I am curious to see where John Ridley goes from here and hopefully he will have more luck in getting all that he needs next time.  Still, it was a nice effort, given a lack of some key resources.


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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Shot digitally, the film has an okay transfer that points out the decision to provide the film with a period look via added grain and a general unpolished element that was added purposefully.  As a result, the film has a muddled-kind of look, but still reflects a level of clarity that is mostly apparent.

Depth: The image does a fine job of showing dimension particularly well in the big music scenes, as we watch Jimi and the others perform in front of crowds.

Black Levels: There’s a faded aspect to the film that keeps the black levels from being as deep as they could be, but they are still mostly solid.

Color Reproduction: Again, the way this film was put together dictates it is not the best, but given the variety of costumes, there are a lot of fun, colorful elements to behold at various points.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures actually come out fairly well, aside from some aesthetic faults I have already mentioned.

Noise/Artifacts: The grain is present, which can be distracting on a film that is not as pristine as some would hope.



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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The old school approach to making this film with modern equipment does not backfire, but it does reflect a less than stellar track that is not always as lively when it needs to be.

Low Frequency Extension: Good thing there is a lot of music in this film, as the subwoofer does get enough to do in terms of reflecting these moments.

Surround Sound Presentation: It is balanced decently, but works best when the music scenes are working their magic.

Dialogue Reproduction: Not as clear as one hopes, even when considering the presence of so many club-based scenes.



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This would have been a great time for John Ridley to make his presence, but alas, he is nowhere to be found.

Features Include:

  • Music by Waddy, Lyics by Danny (HD, 4:27) – A very brief look at two musicians talking about Jimi was a great musician. Not all that special of a feature.
  • Theatrical Trailer


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Jimi: All Is By My Side is a decent film hampered by an obvious lack of the musician’s work along with some mixed results from the filmmaking on display.  Still, Andre Benjamin does a commendable job as the famed guitar player in a film that I felt worked overall, especially if the viewer has at least a vague understanding of Jimi’s life.  The Blu-ray is not all that impressive, but still hits the marks with average quality, despite a heavy lack of extra features.  Worth a rental for those curious.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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