Director: Jon M. Chu
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace
Release Date: August 31, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Lights up on Washington Heights…The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies this vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is the likeable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘In The Heights’ tells the powerful tale of the dreams, struggle and family within the tight knit community of Washington Heights as seen primarily through the eyes of friendly bodega owner Usnavi. As Usnavi must struggle with the decision of whether he should stay in the town he resides and loves or make a move to try and rekindle some of his heritage by purchasing an old family property, he joins his neighbors in trying to escape the sun while a heatwave rages and a town-wide blackout looms. But before everything goes dark and comes back, Usnavi and many others will find their lives and paths changed courtesy of some unexpected love, friendship, fun and even heartbreak.
Directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) from a screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes, and based on the musical stage play, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, book by Quiara Alegría Hudes and a concept by Miranda respectively. Chu does a wonderful job at the helm of ‘In the Heights’ guiding the film adaptation along with ample amounts of beauty, style and heart. The film also owes a great deal of credit to the well selected cast which includes Anthony Ramos (Honest Thief), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton), Leslie Grace (singer/songwriter), Melissa Barrera (TV’s Vida), Jimmy Smits (TV’s Sons of Anarchy), Olga Merediz (TV’s Orange is the New Black), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Flawless), Gregory Diaz IV (Vampires vs. the Bronx), Stephanie Beatriz (TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Dascha Polanco (The Irishman) and more, with nearly all providing notable, if not at least solid performances in each of their respective roles.
‘In The Heights’ is a moving and high energy serving of beauty, heart and music that warmly shines with its breathtaking cinematography, endearing original songs and a passionate tale of community and family with nary a dull or unrewarding moment throughout. An emotionally touching and visually spectacular musical tale that doesn’t shy away from the rougher aspects that accompany the good, but always goes out of its way to heighten the positive in the best imaginable way, and often with fitting songs that shouldn’t have any trouble repeatedly slapping a smile on the face of fans as well as newcomers to the story. It’s a film that probably could have been incredibly different in other hands, but thanks in large part to the magical combination of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s unforgettable stage play and its original music, the passionate guidance of director Jon M. Chu and of course a dazzling cast led by Anthony Ramos, ‘In the Heights’ quickly excels to something quite special that’s liable to touch the hearts of viewers everywhere. I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to check out ‘In the Heights’ to try and go out of your way to do so whenever possible. It’s a magnificent and moving tale of love and community that’s definitely well worth taking time to give a shot and one that many of you will also surely want to make certain gets added to your collection.
Overall, ‘In the Heights’ is a glittering and poignant tale of music, life and those dearest to us. It’s a beautiful piece of cinema that never ignores its Broadway style and charm but instead uses the magic of cinema to expand upon it and engulf the viewer in a breathtaking experience that works on almost every level and is truly a joy to behold. ‘In the Heights’ definitely earns one of my highest possible recommendations, which from someone who doesn’t always enjoy musicals is high praise indeed. It’s one of those rare and moving cinematic experiences that seems to have something for almost everyone and I can’t urge each of you strongly enough to give it a fair chance at some point. While some folks understandably won’t be comfortable dropping the money on a blind purchase, it’s certainly at least worth that of a rental.
The Blu-ray release of ‘In the Heights’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and provides a sharp, vibrantly colored and richly detailed presentation from start to finish that’s absent of any unexpected troubles along the way. It holds up beautifully even during the darkly lit moments as well as the fast moving and heavily populated musical numbers, with nothing occurring onscreen ever becoming negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment that should easily thrill both first time viewers and fans.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack perfectly complements the onscreen fun and offers a clean, smooth and consistently active audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send the unforgettable music, along with bits of crowd chatter, nature elements and plenty more working its way throughout the various speakers at every logical opportunity and always making certain that any dialogue or other audio elements occurring simultaneously remain clean and fully audible. Overall, this is a magnificent Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that more than delivers in every way and contributes plenty of extra fun to the experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘In the Heights’ includes some worthwhile bonus material that fans should have quite a bit of fun with. Included on the release is the Multi-Part Behind the Scenes Documentary ‘Paciencia y Fe: Making In The Heights’ (running approximately 44 minutes in length altogether) which explores various elements of bringing the film to life and features interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The release also features ‘Sing-Along’ versions of the songs ‘In The Heights’ (running approximately 8 minutes) and ’96,000’ (approximately 6 minutes), along with the option to easily select and view any or all of the film’s ‘Musical Numbers’ (approximately 69 minutes in total).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
‘In The Heights’ is Now Available to Own on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
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