The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Kaiden Wilson (30) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
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My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

In case you missed it: ‘In the Heights’

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical film “In the Heights” was released on June, 10 for streaming on HBO Max. 
Photo by via imdb.com

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical film “In the Heights” was released on June, 10 for streaming on HBO Max. 

Everyone has dreams. Everyone has their reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Everyone has their own paths to their goals. 

Earlier this summer, the film “In The Heights” released to show what these dreams look like for one community of New Yorkers. Based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical of the same name, “In The Heights” joins the Latinx community of the Washington Heights neighborhood as it works to survive and strive forward. 

The story passes the spotlight between several characters but primarily revolves around Usnavi, portrayed by Anthony Ramos, a Dominican immigrant in New York City, whose dream is to leave the bodega, or convenience store, he runs and make his way back to his homeland. Among his peers are Gregory Diaz IV’s Sonny, Usnavi’s spunky teen cousin who helps him run the bodega; Nina, played by Leslie Grace, a college student torn between her community and continuing the fight for a higher education; and Melissa Barrera’s Vanessa, an aspiring fashion designer and also Usnavi’s love interest. Each of them has their own dream and must overcome hurdles to get there.

As a musical, the dialogue is action-driven but portrayed in tune. Whether it is spitting fire as they rap lyrics in “96,000,” combining lines to express the tension and confusion of “Blackout” or sharing a tender moment in “When The Sun Goes Down,” the cast delivers a powerful and moving performance each time to piece the story together of this tight-knit and determined community. At times the music is so energetic viewers will want to bounce in their seats; at others they’ll feel the tears rolling down their faces. While the lyrics are primarily in English, Miranda includes plenty of Spanish terms and phrases in the songs, which only makes them feel more genuine and fun.

Those familiar with Miranda’s work will certainly wonder how “In The Heights” holds up to  “Hamilton.” In truth, the question should be reversed, as “In the Heights” was written and performed before “Hamilton,” but the question still stands. Miranda’s hip-hop flow can easily be picked out in the songs, and some of the tracks even sound close to pieces from “Hamilton.” The main musical difference is the Latin tone the tracks feature, so there is enough creativity to appreciate what distinguishes them. 

As far as the story goes, both follow underdogs in a world where the odds are against them. For the people of Washington Heights, many continuously fight to overcome the blocks placed before them as Latinx peoples in the United States. Vanessa deals with being passed over for potential employment because of racism. Nina was an outcast at her university. Sonny is a dreamer who wants to go to college and faces the arduous process of getting a green card — a permanent resident card — which can take up to five years only for the possibility. The weight under which these characters struggle is clear, and audiences will find themselves rooting for the cast members to push through and achieve their dreams.

“In The Heights” may not be the newest film on the block, but its relevance is as fresh as ever. Moving music, paired with a compelling story and honest characters, gives insight into the life of some Latinx Americans in a way that crosses the space between people to help them see, really see, what it’s like. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, add it to the top of your viewing list for your next movie night. 

You won’t regret it.

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