In The Heights (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

One of the unfortunate box office disappointments this summer was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s big offering of the musical In The Heights.  One of the best reviewed movies of the year (And judging from social media reaction, it was very well received), it failed to strike anything at the box office. In addition, the numbers of its simultaneous HBO MAX release were underwhelming as well. Perhaps with it available through digital purchase and rental as well as physical media, it can begin to build a cult audience and shine on for years to come. Said physical media release is getting a boffo 4K disc with an Atmos track and plenty of extras and watching options (Sing-Along) to enjoy the film by. You can pre-order the film using the paid Amazon Associates link below so you can have one when it releases on August 31st.



In Washington Heights, N.Y., the scent of warm coffee hangs in the air just outside of the 181st St. subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies a vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is a likable and magnetic bodega owner who hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.

In The Heights is a big, bold and beautiful (triple B’s) modern musical that really appreciates and takes full advantage of its big screen scope and scale. Jon M. Chu’s film fully embraces and realizes every one of its characters and their purpose through script, acting, song and dance. Being original (Yes, I know its based on a stage production) and capturing the this particular story comes on quite refreshing and new while also giving Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work a recognizable “feel” to compliment everyone’s now more familiarity with the phenomenon of Hamilton.

While its been criticized for not doing enough, or not doing the “enough” correctly, In The Heights still boasts a very diverse cast and tells a story of much underrepresented folks in cinema and definitely such in big musicals. Many of the cast take some big swings and shower the film with their potential to be big stars in other films. Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins and Leslie Grace all shine with every opportunity and go toe to toe blending perfectly with such well renowned vets of stage and screen like Jimmy Smits, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Olga Merediz. Everyone in this is full of life and celebration to bring this tale to its finest corners an succeed swimmingly and make it so with a lot of ease.

Jon M. Chu (Who gets a life pass for making Step Up 3D) is quite possibly the best person you could bring in to take this thing to another level. Miranda originally envisioned this a more low key, low budget affair and Chu came in and made him believe and strive so much bigger. Chu was able to help him envisions, refashion and make such cuts to tighten and strengthen the character work and arcs brought about in the film. The result is an overwhelming confirmation that Jon M. Chu is a maestro of modern big screen song and dance musicals and barely anyone else around can sniff him.

A full quadrant, big summer movie in its finest form, In The Heights provides you with big blockbuster musical numbers, terrific drama, coming of age and some good reflection on nostalgia and forward motion in life. Every person in this film has an important arc and they are all quite fully realized and satisfyingly blended produced. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs mix beautifully with Chu’s vision and direction to create such a great piece of big screen movie going and great blockbuster entertainment that contains quite a bit extra. And most certainly is one of the year’s best.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC/H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/DetailIn The Heights arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as a native 4K title. Having compared it to the Blu-ray disc that comes with the package, it is quite a noticeable step up in terms of sharpness, color saturation, texture and details. This one radiates vibrantly across the screen with great lighting and moods that are fully captured here in this 4K image. With the standard Blu-ray image it looks ok, but kind of standard, but with the 4K one much of the stylings and vibes are more pronounced and give this a more unique personality.

Depth:  Plenty of good spacing shown in the depth of field here. Confident camera movements also bring about some terrific scope both inside and out with nominal pushback to really feel the spacing in any given scene. Movements are natural and smooth with no issues regarding blur or jitter.

Black Levels:  Blacks are natural and quite rich. Plenty of good shading and tone setting to contrast and help bring out sharpness and color. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are quite vibrant and really pop well off the screen in a non-distracting and natural way. Clothing fabric and definitely a lot of the street artwork and building colors really have some good stand out. HDR works well with candle flames, digital displays, screen graphics and more.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. You can really notice a different in this between the 4K and the Blu-ray. Facial features and textures like freckles, lip texture, make-up strokes/lines, wrinkles, stubble and more are clear as day from any given distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio (US), English Descriptive Audio (UK), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Castilian Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finish, Danish, Korean, Cantonese, Complex Chinese Italian, Italian SDH, Japanese

Dynamics: In The Heights compliments its superb video with a rather kickin’ Atmos track. This thing feels like a concert or stage production happening before you in your living room at any given moment. It also excels in bringing to life and engaging with the non-musical numbers. This is a strong Atmos tracks that really like exploring what a musical can do with Atmos while also just delivering a fine, accurate depiction of the onscreen events in the film.

Height:  People from apartments up high, chorus and musical bits and much more natural things from above are streaming through this channel.

Low Frequency Extension: Much of the bass and drum in the music, natural door slamming, stomping, crashing and more have a nice accurate punch from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: The mix here is quite fun and relishes in being able to swing around the room. It fully knows where everything is at and gives a 360 degree pinpoint accuracy to any moment, never forgetting where people or action is off the screen. This mix also builds good ambiance and unique sounds from rear and side channels so as to be as lifelike as can be.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. The transition from spoken word to song is pretty slight and goes back and forth almost seamlessly.


In The Heights comes with the Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code for the film. The “Musical Numbers” option is available on both discs, but the bonus material is found on the standard Blu-ray disc.


Musical Numbers – Direct access to the song performances in the film.


Paciencia y Fe: Making In The Heights (HD, 43:59) – A pretty in depth 6-part feature on making the film. It covers all sorts of aspects in a rather genuine feeling of celebrating film, musicals, culture and the arts. Pretty much everyone from the film is a talking head and you get some nice rehearsal and behind the scenes footage.

“In The Heights” Sing-Along (HD, 7:44) – Has the words and pacing provided with the number from the film.

“96,000” Sing A-Long (HD, 6:06) – Has the words and pacing provided with the number from the film.


In The Heights is an another absolute banger from the mind and talents of Lin-Manuel Miranda. After failing to land a big draw at the box office and on streaming earlier in the summer, one can hope it will slowly build an audience over time. Warner Bros 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut of the film features a terrific presentation with both audio and video (A noticeable jump over the Blu-ray even). Extras are a little light, but one is a pretty darn good Making Of documentary that gives plenty of background and insight into making the film. Grab In The Heights as soon as you’re able!

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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