Based on a true story, Cadillac Records chronicles the rise of Leonard Chess (Brody) and his artists, whose recording careers with Chess Records eventually was acknowledged in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The artists depicted are Muddy Waters (Wright), Howlin' Wolf (Walker), Chuck Berry (Def), Little Walter (Short), Etta James (Knowles), and Composer Willie Dixon (Cedric The Entertainer)—the man who wrote the songs. In this tale of sex, violence, race, and early rock and roll, in Chicago of the 1950s and 60s, the film follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's greatest musical legends. (Gary Reber)
Special features include commentary with Writer/Director Darnell Martin; The Chess Record Player, an interactive Bonus View playlist you create; Playing Chess: The Making Of Cadillac Records featurette (HD 25:10); Once Upon A Blues: Cadillac Records By Design featurette on wardrobe and production design (HD 15:37); five deleted scenes (SD 04:15); previews; plus BD-Live interactivity.
The 2.40:1 1080p AVC picture characterizes a period in the 1950s and 60s during the advent of blues and rock and roll music centered in Chicago. As such, the picture delivers with a very warm presence. The picture appears stylized, with slightly subdued colors. Blacks are deep and solid. Shadow delineation is excellent. At times colors are rich and vibrant. Daylight scenes appear overcast and transition well to the dark interior scenes that predominant throughout the film. Still, contrast is excellent, and the cinematography is creative with lighting and shadows. Resolution is terrific, with excellent details revealed in facial features and textures. Fleshtones are accurately rendered as well. This is a terrific picture that projects realism throughout. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby® TrueHD 5.1-channel soundtrack is a bit of a disappointment in that dialogue sounds ADR produced and disconnected with the scenes. Spatial integration is wanting. The music score is the highlight and is nicely recorded. The music features classic recordings along with modern recordings of classics. Fidelity is a bit subdued, lacking the presence of modern recordings. But some songs have excellent depth and a wide soundstage. Bass is limited, with virtually no use of the LFE .1 channel. Surround envelopment is limited to low-level music and atmospheric sound effects. Overall, this is a pleasing soundtrack, though dialogue sounds poorly integrated. (Gary Reber)