Whiplash (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Turning five years old this year, Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash has received a home video upgrade by moving to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. The film was an Oscar darling, garnering five nominations in big categories. It landed J.K. Simmons a Best Supporting Actor win, which was basically his to lose the entire awards season. One of the most fun bits of trivia is that Whiplash is also a Blumhouse film. You could argue that J.K. Simmons IS quite scary in it if you wanted to. Sony will be giving this a 4K make-over and a new Dolby Atmos track for this release. Extras are the same as its the previous Blu-ray disc that’s included. The film will also come with a digital copy code. Sony released it on September 22nd, so its available to order now. You can use the paid Amazon Associates link at the bottom of this review to do so, if you’d like.



Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, in pursuit of rising to the top of his elite music conservatory. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor known for his terrifying teaching methods, discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into the top jazz ensemble, forever changing the young man’s life. But Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher pushes him to the brink of his ability and his sanity.

Whiplash is a hot ball of intensity that battles on the questions of how much someone is will to push another for greatness and how much one is willing or wanting to be pushed. Damien Chazelle paints one of the most furiously intense coming of age musical dramas we’ve ever seen. Its bites at you, punches you in the gut and ultimately impresses the hell out of you. The film builds and climbs and ultimately leaving you wondering if it was all worth it or will be worth it once the credits roll.

The film obviously features two very strong performances at its head. J.K. Simmons obviously got some gold for this and there’s no denying it was well earned even before the first act comes to a close. He’s ruthless, intense, conniving and yet still you manage understand him as a human. Teller plays the foil and he turns in some more of his impressive work he’d been putting in at the time. His job is tough in having to match and move with Simmons in every scene to make this movie not just work, but to be absolutely excellent. Everything has to culminate into the final moments and these two can’t sell short any second of the film. There’s a crazy dynamic in there in that Teller NEEDS and DESIRES Simmons. He knows that’s his path to being the greatest drummer. Its absolutely toxic, asks too much and is down right dangerous, but he yearns and wants all of that and can’t live without it.

Chazelle’s film also shines light in a scene of an aspect you don’t see much and explains a hell of a lot. I’m referring to where Teller and his father played by Paul Reiser, eat dinner at some relatives. The arts are never seen as seriously, despite how impressive the credentials are. There’s no desire to discuss it or to even listen on congratulate. Yet, when the less impressive sports acclaims come in, they just can’t shut up about it. I can’t tell you how much that scene resonated with me when I first saw it and even now. As an artist or creator, its tough if you have a family that doesn’t understand and doesn’t know how to support it. Not that its their fault they don’t know how, but its at least something to even try.

Whiplash is more than just what you see on the surface or even Simmon’s performance. There’s a lot at play here whether you agree with it or not. Many artistic studies, styles and philosophies get explored and it really has on edge on where these people come from and the hurdles that define who they are. The whole film also gambles on its finale, and it all HAS to come together just right and Chazelle really knocks it out of the park.


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: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  Whiplash debuts on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as a 4K upconvert. It appears the film was finished at 2K. Nonetheless, there are very noticeable improvements over the Blu-ray edition of the film. The picture is much more sharp and crisp. Details are much more clear and more texture become apparent. There are better saturations of the blacks and colors. Overall, I don’t know that people would’ve thought of this movie as seeing a jump like this, but its there.

Depth:  The depth of field here isn’t super wowing but its more than enough, managing to display a really nice sense of scale. Actors and objects move with good ease and smoothness and no distortion issues occur no matter how furious the drums are being beaten.

Black Levels:  Blacks are one of the more readily improved areas of the picture. Better shading, natural turns and less information sucked out by darkness. The film features a lot of darker lit rooms, let alone some nighttime stuff. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors keep very much jazz with darker and more primary looking ones. There are some nice lights and pops here or there, but this one aims for the natural and it succeeds in having some nice pops when contrast aims for it.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones have a slightly washed out tone and are consistent from start to finish. There are some gold lit scenes and such that change the dynamic a little. Facial features and texture are really clear from any given distance. Just Miles Teller’s face alone carries so much information from scars and blemishes.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Descriptive Service, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Spanish, Turkish

Dynamics: Whiplash jumps from 5.1 to Atmos here and it REALLY fine tunes this thing and makes some straight magic out of the musical performances in the film. There’s a real natural, clean, breezy feel to this mix and it truly has been given some care in this upgrade. And its all very natural to every moment too, nothing going silly over the top.

Height: Nothing to crazy with the overhead here. It participates where its supposed to, and adds plenty to the concert sound of the big performances.

Low-Frequency Extension:  Plenty of deep bump here. Of course from the drums, but there are some smashing and crashing moments here as well.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a nice floaty surround experience with good rolling audio. Ambiance really works nicely and the rear channels add some of the bounce of music around a room. The car crash plays quite well in terms of an all hands on deck moment in the film from the speakers.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals come off pretty find, with a delicate touch to hearing their crisp, clean dictions.


Whiplash comes with the standard Blu-ray version and a redeemable digital code.  All bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc. No new supplemental features have been added, the Blu-ray disc is the one already available.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director Damien Chazelle and Actor J.K. Simmons

Timekeepers (HD, 42:56)

Whiplash Original Short Film (HD, 17:56)

Fletcher at Home (HD, 1:30)

An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival with Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, and Damien Chazelle (HD, 7:50)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:10)


Whiplash brings a lot of intensity and showcases how hard some people push themselves and others to be great.  Sony’s 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release for the film indeed finds a welcomed improvement over the previous Blu-ray in the expected areas, but it is quite notable how fine tuned it becomes. Extras remain the same, with no new additions. Fans of the film, or those who don’t own it already would be well to upgrade or purchase for the first time.

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.

  1. No Comments