Ray (2004)

Genre(s): Biographical / Drama / Musical
Universal || PG13 - 153 minutes - $19.98 || February 1, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-02-01


Buy this DVD from Amazon.com!
.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Taylor Hackford
Writer(s): Taylor Hackford (story) & James L. White (story), James L. White (screenplay)
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Regina King


Theatrical Release Date: March 19, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Director Commentary
  • Theatrical and Extended Versions


  • Disc 2:
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Extended Musical Scenes
  • Stepping Into the Part
  • Ray Remembered
  • A Look Inside Ray
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Previews


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Comment on this and other movies on the message board!


.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

I never got to see Ray at the theater so I was very happy to view it at home. I found the film to be an honest account of a national icon. To that point, Taylor Hackford does not back away from showing how sad Ray Charles' life was as the music legend delved deeper into his heroin addiction and (to a certain extent in regards to the film) his neglect for his family. So, on a personal level, I was satisfied that the filmmakers presented a non-watered-down account of the singer's life.

However, the bright spot in Ray soley rested at the hands of Jamie Foxx who convinced me that he deserves the Oscar. With a character like Ray Charles, it would be easy for an actor to merely deliver an impersonation with little behind the copied expressions. Instead, Jamie Foxx (who is also nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Collateral) enbodies Ray Charles. He presents a good mixture of humanity and passion with heartache and sorrow with yet still the very real drug problems.

Despite how much I liked Ray as a film, I cannot say that it is the best movie of 2004, in fact in my book it actually ranks #8 and #3 amongst the Best Picture nominees (the other two being Million Dollar Baby and Finding Neverland).

Click here to read xmenfan's original review which to my knowledge was the first one on the Net as he got the opportunity to see test screening early in '04.

On a side note, I began to watch the extended version which rigidly cuts in extended scenes which are noticeable upon viewing. If you have not seen the film before, I suggest watching the theatrical version first and if you like, check out the extended one as I don't think it would hurt. For more on my thoughts about these scenes, check out the special features section as the scenes are presented on the second disc.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This two-disc special edition actually packs a decent punch with one excellent highlight and one, well, lowlight. The Ray DVD I think does a good job showing the viewer how the movie came to be.

First, the commentary with director Taylor Hackford is almost perfect for those who enjoy informative commentaries. Though I felt the track was a bit on the dry side, Hackford certainly provided a methodical approach to his commentary which seemed to be planned out in detail. Hackford uses every minute of the 153 minutes to go through just about every detail of the making of Ray. He clues us in on how the real Ray Charles' voice was used (some rerecorded while others were the original masters from concerts. Now, I will warn you that he does telestrate the entire thing which is an aspect I normally hate, however I think it is absolutely appropriate for a movie like Ray. To have anything other than a professional track would've been out of place for a film of this calibor and subject matter. That said, I think the director would've been helped by having another person (like a producer or even star Jamie Foxx) with him to bounce ideas and such back and forth thereby livening things up a bit.

The deleted scenes primarily were extended scenes integrated into the "extended version" on disc one. I would actually suggest viewing them here rather than the branching method that was used to splice it into the film itself. While some of the scenes were cut for timing and the usual reasons, each actually presented something more to the character(s). For instance, in one such scene, Ray was getting annoyed about how slow the band was playing and he wanted to pick up the pace, which the band leader wasn't having any of it. Another interesting scene was based somewhat on real life and apparently was something Ray did on occasion. In the middle of a concert, if he heard something out of place or off key, he would stop the performance and call out the person (and afterward would fire him on the spot). Even though these scenes were good to watch and were well performed, I think Hackford made the right decision in cutting them out since the movie was already verging on two and a half hours in length.

There are two extended musical scenes which are fun to watch just to hear more of Charles' singing. I was hoping, though, for a few more considering the amount of songs presented in the film, but for what's there, it's worth watching (perhaps even several times).

Stepping Into the Part is the best featurette on the disc and probably one of the better ones I have seen in a while, the reason being we get to see the man himself as he tests Jamie Foxx on the piano. This featurette certainly shows why Ray Charles was so successful, not only because he was a talented musician, but he has a charm or energy that fills any room he's in. During this, you also get to see Charles himself give his blessing to Foxx to play him. Also, the featurette shows how in-depth Foxx went including keeping the eye prostestics on during the entire shooting day eaving him blind several hours a day. Truly a great -- and rewatchable -- featurette!

So I go from that great featurette to the sadly standard A Look Inside Ray, which unfortunately runs at a pultrey 3 minutes or so. There's the typical scenes from the movie, plus behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews with Hackford and Foxx. The only bright spot came from some more footage of Ray Charles himself, other than that, a disappointment to an otherwise nice set.

The disc also has the Ray theatrical trailer and previews of other Universal films.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Considering this is basically a musical, sound was very important and for the most part it didn't disappoint, though I do wish Universal and many other studios would put DTS on their releases because I think Ray would've benefited from it. Picture-wise, it wasn't too bad as it was pretty clean and clear to me.

The discs offer static menus (except when clicking to play the movie) and feature Ray Charles' classics. Nothing fancy here, which is the way I like it.



.::OVERALL::.

Ray is a film that I think will go down more for its acting from Jamie Foxx than for the storytelling, but I have to say that I enjoyed all of it. However, without Foxx (and to a certain extent Taylor Hackford), this would've only been shown on TV rather than being a multi-Adademy nominee (for which Foxx deserves that statue). The DVD itself is also nice with the "Stepping Into the Part" being the highlight.