Walk The Line (Blu-ray Review)

Walk The Line (Blu-ray Review)Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Johnny Cash has had a profound effect on music and musicians.  After all, the man is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Hailing from the small rural town of Dyess, Arkansas, Cash had an affinity for music even as a youth.  If there was a moment where the young lad could sit himself in front of a radio, he took advantage of it.  The seeds of music seemed to be planted in him at birth.  That fascination would plot his course in life’s journey and while his behavior was self-destructive at times, the destruction he would leave in his path would be that of shattering barriers in his rise to the top.  His love life was turbulent, his health was flawed by drugs, but he left a legacy of music that has proven to be timeless and even inspiring long after his passing.  Film bios can be a sketchy thing sometimes as supposed facts are suspect and the entertainment value can be minimal.  This was not the case with James Mangold’s Walk the Line.


I was never a huge fan of Johnny Cash.  I didn’t dislike him or his music, nor did I feel on the other end of the spectrum.  It was more of a case of my indifference.  Something was amiss though when a film on the late musician arrived in theaters in 2005.  I was strangely drawn to this production of a man I knew little about.  Perhaps it was the tremendous job Joaquin Phoenix did from the trailer bits I watched.  Maybe it was the toe-tapping music that surrounded the advertisement.  Either way, I was beyond impressed.  Now Walk the Line can be found on Blu-ray and what a grand experience it is. 

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Johnny Cash while Cash’s wife, June Carter, is played by Reese Witherspoon.  Before I go any further, it is important to point out that prior to this film, Joaquin Phoenix did not know how to play the guitar, nor was he known for his singing.  The same can be said for Witherspoon.  When watching these two on stage in the movie, you would think they’ve been singing and playing their respective stringed instruments since their childhood.  That simply wasn’t the case as a lot of this was all new to them.  In short, what you have here are two of Hollywood’s brightest.    

The film follows Cash from his days growing up in Arkansas with his family, led by his verbally abusive father, played by T2 villain Robert Patrick.  It continues on to his days in the Air Force in the early 50’s where his songwriting began to take shape.  We eventually see him start a family, record his first record, tour with some of the greatest names in rock n’ roll (of all time), become an addict, fall from grace, and rise to the top once again.  His adult life, as you’ll see in this great film, is often spent chasing June Carter both on and off the stage.  In turn, it also seems as if Carter spent a fair portion of her adult life resisting his advances. 

Reese Witherspoon plays a great June Carter and if you are like me and have seen this film, you are probably thinking that Witherspoon’s voice has to be one of entertainment’s best kept secrets.  If she ever wants to launch a second career in country music, I would venture to guess that Nashville would accept her with open arms.  The film’s acting is second to none and the 2-hour, 15-minute runtime always seems to breeze by faster than it truly is. 

Phoenix does an absolutely tremendous job in his role as the man in black.  It is one of the Academy’s greatest mistakes to not have awarded this man with a ‘Best Actor’ Oscar when the time came.  I have long since forgotten who took the award that year, but whomever it was, did not do a better job in their role that year that Joaquin Phoenix did in his.  His commanding presence in front of the camera is unmistakable and the chemistry he shares with Witherspoon is a beautiful thing.  This movie is not about country music, rock music, or whether or not you like Johnny Cash.  This is a great film about a very accomplished musician. 

Walk The Line


The film is brought to your TV in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, supporting a very vibrant 1080p resolution along with an AVC encode.  There are less than five minutes of grainy scenes so I think a rating of 4.5 here is accurate.  No, I wouldn’t give it a 4 if there were ten minutes of grainy scenes.  My thought is the video is not perfect, although it comes pretty darn close, so I’m not going to give it a perfect score.  Still, nearly everything looks so good in this film that it is extremely close to a reference quality disc.  The colors jump out at you and the picture has such a crisp level of clarity to it  that you won’t find yourself hesitating to revisit the stellar quality of this film’s look again and again on Blu-ray. 

Walk The Line


There are so many movies I watch at home that treat the subwoofer like the proverbial red-headed step child.  It becomes a neglected piece of equipment either due to a soundtrack that never had any intent of making use of the booming speaker or it was just a bad sound mix.  Neither are concerns in the audio department for Walk the Line.  Everything is utilized with impressive delivery from the very beginning of the film to the roll of the credits.  It is a superb sound experience that I could simply not ask anything more of.  You can hear the cicadas and other environmental sounds in the background, a very clear helping of a dialogue in the front, and the thumping bass from the subwoofer.  It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Walk The Line

Special Features 

There is a nice range of material to be found on this disc.  Good.  That’s one roadblock out of the way.  Now if it’s in high def, I will be to the moon! Alas, it looks like I’m staying right here.  It is another sad case of standard definition extras.  Like G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”  When it comes to Blu-ray, content is half the battle.  The other half is making sure that content is in high def. 

  • Featured Commentary by co-writer and director James Mangold
  • More Man in Black: Deleted Scenes – There are a total of 10 deleted scenes here that can be watched with an optional commentary by James Mangold (23:13).
  • Extended Musical Sequences – These are longer versions of the stage scenes from the film.  They are titled “Rock and Roll Ruby,” “Jackson,” and “Cocaine Blues.”  There is a total of roughly five and a half minutes viewing here.
  • Featurettes – Here is where the meat of the extras is found.  It is too bad they are revealed at a meager 480i resolution, but hardcore fans and the layman alike should enjoy the informative content here.  They include Folsom, Cash & the Comeback (11:47), Celebrating the Man in Black: The Making of Walk the Line (21:38), and Ring of Fire: The Passion of Johnny & June (11:29). 
  • Walk the Line Theatrical Trailer – (1:49)

Walk The Line

Final Thoughts 

Pretend this movie is like a good stock tip; buy, buy, buy!  That is the best advice I can give someone who is debating its purchase.  It is a fantastic piece of work that should be on everyone’s must-see list.  I can’t speak enough praises for Mangold, Phoenix and Witherspoon for their efforts in this film.  Acting and direction aside, the movie looks pristine on Blu-ray and offers a surround sound experience that is without a doubt one of the top three I have ever come across (with the other two being The Sky Crawlers and This Is It).  Trust me when I say this is a film for just about everyone (minus the kiddies).  Heck, my mother is no fan of country or rock n’ roll and even she appreciated this film and got her foot a movin’ when Jackson started to play.  Great story, great acting, great visuals, great audio; what’s not to like here?!  Walk the Line is a must-have in your Blu-ray library.       


Bring home Walk The Line on Blu-ray today!



Walk The Line Blu-ray Cover Art




2 Responses to “Walk The Line (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    I’m not the biggest Cash fan, but I can respect his contributions to music. This was a really good film on him and a well written review above!

  2. Gregg

    Wow! Thanks for sharing, AJ. I’d love to hear more about your time in Dyess and with Mr. Cash. Feel free to email me!