The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 153 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington, Harry Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine, Clifton Powell, Terence Howard, Richard Schiff, Terence Dashon, Larenz Tate
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
Music by: Craig Armstrong
Written by: James L. White
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 1, 2011
"The only thing more extraordinary than the music is the man behind it: Ray Charles"
Ray is the triumphant and remarkable story of one of America’s true musical geniuses, Ray Charles. From his humble beginnings in the South through his meteoric rise to the top of American music charts, Ray’s inspirational journey is a tale of hope, redemption and the power of the human spirit.
Ray is the incredible true story of a musician who fought harder and went further than anyone could imagine. Growing up I have fond memories of listening to my mother’s early Ray Charles records. “Hit the road Jack” was a personal favorite (and still is) that we used to play over and over for its upbeat tempo and slickly infused melody. As I got older I listened less but Ray’s iconic stature and presence in the music industry remained constant. I remember him performing on “We are the world” in the mid eighties. His unmistakable voice and methodology was easily identifiable among the myriad of star acts that sang on the record. As teenagers we all had varying tastes in music but all knew who Ray Charles was which I think is telling. He was a pioneer that made an indelible mark on the music industry in a career that spanned 50 years.
When this film was released I had reservations about Jamie Foxx playing the role of Ray. Once I saw it those concerns were laid to rest. He gave a tour de force performance that won him an Academy Award. His level of commitment to the role and the authenticity of his portrayal was simply brilliant. 15 years in the making this is a compelling, honest and inspirational biopic that tells Ray’s story from his poverty stricken beginnings though his meteoric rise to fame. It pulls few punches in its depiction of his personal life but mixes the bitter with the sweet and highlights many of his best/landmark moments. The musical set pieces are integrated throughout and feature some of his best material. Alongside Foxx are standout performances by Regina King and Kerry Washington but the cast as an ensemble is outstanding. This film is clearly a labor of love for director Taylor Hackford and his producing partner Stuart Benjamin and it shows in the production value. Ray is a marvelous dramatic film that embodies the essence of this iconic and soulful performer who consistently pushed the envelope and dared to be different.
The rating is for the depiction of drug use/addiction, sexuality and some thematic elements.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Ray comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 Mbps.
This is a near reference quality high definition transfer that looks terrific. Images are transparent with exquisite detail and a near infinite sense of depth. Close ups and mid level shots are noticeably detailed and revealing of subtlest nuance within facial features, clothing, and objects/backgrounds within the frame. Fidelity is never in question regardless of perspective. Primary colors pop nicely against the film’s muted secondary hues and sepia toned aesthetic which is intended to portray the film’s period specific/evolving timeline. Skin tones are mildly affected but otherwise appear tonally divergent and lifelike. Blacks are rich, and dynamic which draws them out during sequences that contain both light/dark onscreen elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveals discerning shapes and structure in backgrounds/objects. Grain is present and maintains a filmic textural essence that presides over the presentation without intrusion. I found this to be an impressive and pristine quality high definition video presentation from Universal.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has good dynamic range and detail rich clarity that enables the detection of low level and subtle background sounds within the recording. There is much to discern during the musical set pieces that take place both in the studio and live environments. The lead vocals are prominently displayed while the instrumentation is spread over the soundstage with primary focus remaining up front with rear channel extension. The rear channels are active on occasion and blend well with the front channels to generate a balanced and stable soundfield. Spoken dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices with defining texture and tonal distinction. Low frequency effects aren’t intense but the subwoofer is kept busy as it works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the low level bass associated with the music/score and thematic elements. As a whole I thoroughly enjoyed this audio/video presentation which serves as a great companion to the film.
* It should be noted that I found no real world difference between the overall quality of this presentation versus the HD DVD release. *
- FEATURED COMMENTARY: With director Taylor Hackford.
- INTRODUCTION: By director Taylor Hackford.
- EXTENDED MUSICAL SCENES: 9 complete uncut musical performances with an Introduction by Jamie Foxx including “Hit The Road Jack,” “Unchain My Heart,” “What Kind of Man Are You,” “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” “Leave My Woman Alone,”
“Night Time is the Right Time,” “Mary Ann,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and “Hard Times”.
- DELETED SCENES: 14 scenes not shown in the theatrical version with commentary by director Taylor Hackford.
- STEPPING INTO THE PART –An exclusive behind the scenes look at Jamie Foxx’s incredible transformation into Ray Charles – including a jam session between the actor and Ray Charles himself.
- RAY REMEMBERED – Friends and fellow musicians remember Ray Charles.
- THE WOMEN OF RAY – A look at the real women in Ray Charles' life, as well as the actresses who play them.
- RAY: AN AMERICAN STORY – An in-depth view of the life of Ray Charles featuring cast and crew discussing the making of the film.
- A LOOK INSIDE RAY – A look at the music legend's journey and making of the film.
- THE FILMMAKERS’ JOURNEY – An in-depth interview with director Taylor Hackford and his producing partner Stuart Benjamin on their 15-year journey to portray Ray Charles’ musical genius and bring their vision to the screen.
- PICTURE IN PICTURE: SCENE COMPANION – Watch behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, bios and more during key scenes with this picture-in-picture companion.
- THE MUSIC OF RAY – Viewers can create a personal playlist of favorite songs while watching the movie and even download the music from iTunes!
- My Scenes bookmark feature
- U-Control: Universal’s exclusive feature that lets the viewer access bonus materials without leaving the movie!
- Pocket Blu - App for iPOD/iPHONE
- BD-Live enabled
- Theatrical trailer
Ray is the incredible true story of a musician who fought harder and went further than anyone could imagine. It is a marvelous dramatic film that features superlative cast performances and thoughtful direction that culminate to embody the essence of this iconic and soulful performer who consistently pushed the envelope and dared to be different. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Home Entertainment featuring superb high definition video, excellent DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound and a bevy of bonus features that compliment the film. If you don’t already own Ray in high definition this Blu-ray release comes highly recommended.
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