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Reviewer: Brendan Surpless
The film mostly chronicles the period where Charles signed with Atlantic Records and began to record numerous songs. While this was the main topic of the film, Hackford also went into some detail on a few of Charles other problems. One of the largest problems that haunted Charles for quite sometime was the drowning of his brother when he was a child. We clearly see that Charles is altered by this as many sequences are shown where Charles falls on the ground splashing around as if he himself is about to drown only to realize that it’s all in his imagination. Charles heroin addiction is also touched upon, probably caused by his guilt over his brother’s death and the pressures he had to record hits. Topics like these are brought to our eyes and ears thanks in part to Foxx’s performance.
Obviously one of the strongest points in the film is the portrayal of Charles by Foxx. After watching some of the extras on this release, one finds out that Foxx did an unimaginable amount of work into acting just like Charles. From researching his life, to jamming and meeting with Charles himself, to wearing prosthetics over his eyes making him partially blind, Foxx truly did deserve his Oscar. In fact, Foxx is so truly good that you sometimes forget that he’s actually acting and wonder sometimes if Charles himself was acting in the film.
Director Hackford informs us, in one of the making of features, that the film took almost 15 years to get a greenlight. While it did take 15 years, we learn that Hackford was almost glad it took this long because otherwise Foxx may not have portrayed Charles leading to a film that would not have been as powerful as “Ray” ended up being. Granted I would have liked to see more depth when it comes to Charles latter life instead of so much focus on his the middle of his life, but one can’t even begin to disagree that Foxx’s performance is truly spellbinding. As Charles himself told Ray after seeing him act and play the piano, “You Got It Right Baby!”. Yes, Foxx truly did get it right.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Let me take a minute to spell a word for you here. R-E-F-E-R-E-N-C-E. Yes, Reference. “Ray” is presented in an absolutely gorgeous 1080p High-Definition 1:85:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio. I could not find one problem wrong with this transfer. Grain was nowhere to be found, colors were vibrant and fluid giving every little scene, from the early years on the farm, to the final scene where Charles is performing the always great ‘Georgia on My Mind’, a new life and feel. Due to the film being rather new, the image quality was amazing, so amazing that if one pauses a scene where Charles is right on screen, walks up to the screen and looks carefully, one will be surprised that you will see little details like hairs, scratches, pores, etc. Talk about amazing detail. I truly loved this transfer as it breathes new life into a film. All in all this earns a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Due to this film being mostly about the music of Charles, I would more than satisfied with the ending result. As Charles performs hit after hit, I found myself closing my eyes loving what I was listening to. I didn’t expect the audio track to be this rocking, shacking track, but rather a track that accompanied the film filling when it had to (the performance scenes). One of my favorite scenes, a demo scene IMO, would be were Charles is performing ‘Hit The Road Jack’, a song that was written right after one of his numerous problematic relationships with a woman. The only real possibly negative I could think of is that the track doesn’t really rely on the rears as much as the fronts, but that would only be myself nitpicking to find a problem. Granted the audio isn’t as powerful as the video, but the audio more than does its job of showcasing the life and career of Ray Robinson Charles. All in all this earns a good “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.
Bonus materials are presented in Standard Definition with English Stereo.
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