Whiplash review

Award-winning film makes a strong impression on Blu-ray with its awesome audio

Ambitious young drummer Andrew Nayman (Miles Teller) thinks he's finally on the path to greatness when he's invited to join the top jazz ensemble at the elite music conservatory he attends. But in order to stay there, Andrew will have to prove himself to the band's ruthless instructor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a man who will stop at nothing when it comes to pushing his students to the limit…

Few first-time filmmakers have made quite as strong an impression as writer-director Damian Chazelle did last year with this musical drama-cum-psychological thriller exploring the relationship between student and teacher. Breathlessly paced and almost unbearably intense, this whip-smart movie is pushed up to another level by Simmons's unforgettable performance as the brutal teacher who bellows out criticisms at his students in a way that would even put the fear of God into Full Metal Jacket's Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.

Picture: Shot digitally using Arri Alexa cameras, Whiplash arrives on Blu-ray with an AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode that excels in reproducing fine details, be it close-ups of character's faces or beads of sweat and blood resting on the top of a cymbal. Black levels are also pretty good, although there is some noticeable crush on show – presumably due to the same colour grading that was undertaken to push oranges and yellows to the fore in the palette, giving the entire film a deliberately warmer aesthetic.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: It shouldn't really come as much of a surprise to learn that Whiplash arrives on Blu-ray with a truly wonderful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.

While dialogue and ambience are both expertly handled, the real success here is the music that forms the film's backbone. Every instrument can be cleanly picked out during each performance, with the overall sound of the band swelling up around you with a depth and robustness that can't help but impress. Staggeringly good sonics.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: The Blu-ray offers up a fairly modest but worthwhile collection of bonus features.

Writer-director Chazelle is joined by J.K. Simmons for an insightful audio commentary that sees the former offering up plenty of technical details, while the latter provides the fun. And well worth a look is Timekeepers, a 43-minute doc talking to a number of famous drummers about their work.

Also on offer are a single deleted scene (with optional commentary), the original Whiplash short film (with an optional commentary), a short Q&A with the director and two stars, and the trailer.
Extra rating: 3.5/5

We say: The lossless soundtrack's talent with music ensures that this Blu-ray is a star performer

Whiplash, Sony Pictures, Region B BD, £25 Approx