Big Picture Big Sound

Fully Immersed: Best New Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Blu-ray Discs: Spider-Man: Homecoming, Transformers: The Last Knight, Warm Bodies, Wonder Woman

By Greg Robinson

Fully Immersed, Volume 13

Fall is here and that means we're starting to see this past summer's blockbuster films make their way to Blu-ray and Ultra HD. And while most of those tentpole titles will feature a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X soundtrack, we're also continuing to see a number of catalog titles getting the immersive audio treatment as part of their 4K Ultra release. Here's what's just been released or is coming soon to disc featuring a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X soundtrack:

  • Baby Driver 4K - Dolby Atmos, Sony
  • Serenity 4K - DTS:X, Universal
  • Apollo 13 4K - DTS:X, Universal
  • War for the Planet of the Apes - Dolby Atmos, Fox
  • Warrior - Dolby Atmos, Lionsgate
  • The Dark Tower 4K - Dolby Atmos, Sony
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day 4K - DTS:X, Lionsgate

I plan to cover at least a few of the above titles soon. Until then, here's what I've listened to most recently...

 

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Spider-Man: Homecoming 4K
Sony | Buy Now | Dolby Atmos available on 4K Ultra HD only

Since 2002, we have been witness to no fewer than five standalone Spider-Man films, with 2017's Homecoming now becoming the sixth. However, as most web heads know, the Spider-Man films have been a decidedly mixed bag - and Tom Holland is now the third Peter Parker to don the red Underoos. He's also the best. After a brief but brilliant introduction to Marvel Studios' "cinematic universe" in Captain America: Civil War, Homecoming gives Holland the opportunity to shine and he knocks it out of the park. The same can be said of this phenomenal Dolby Atmos soundtrack which, frustratingly, Sony has chosen once again to only make available on the 4K release. Those equipped to hear it will be treated to an incredibly deep and robust low end and a highly dynamic surround mix that makes smart use of the additional channels. It's hard to pick a favorite, but in one scene towards the end of the film, Peter is hurled into (and through) a school bus, which then rolls with Peter inside it. The overall channels are used to great effect here, completely immersing the listener in a cacaphony of broken glass and twisting steel. Highly recommended.

 

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Transformers: The Last Knight
Paramount | Buy Now | Dolby Atmos available on Blu-ray, 4K UHD

Michael Bay's Transformers films are nothing if not consistent. Loud, obnoxious, and completely over the top, The Last Knight offers much of the same in this latest installment - though it feels like two given its ridiculous 150-min running time. This time out we learn of the origins of the Transformers on Earth, going back so far that we even get to meet Lancelot and Merlin. If nothing else, the film's lovely English highlands look great in HD - but they're no contest for the brash and aggressive Dolby Atmos soundtrack at work here. This dynamic and immersive mix wastes no time making its presensce known, with catapulted fireballs literally being hurled at the listener over Paramount's mountain logo in the first frame of the film. This Arthurian battle prologue, featuring fireballs soaring overhead and a robot dragon, is just the tip of the iceberg for this richly-detailed, multi-layered surround sound extravaganza. So it's got that going for it. Which is nice.

 

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Warm Bodies 4K
Lionsgate | Buy Now | Dolby Atmos available on 4K UHD only

Zombies are people too, you know. Based on Isaac Marion's novel of the same name, Warm Bodies is not your typical zombie tale. More than anything, it's a love story if you can believe it; it just so happens that our protagonist ("R", played by Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie. R's star-crossed lover is Julie (Teresa Palmer), a warm-blooded, still-breathing female, and part of a dwindling group of holed-up human rebels trying to oulast the zombie apocalypse. Apart from its unique and clever premise, Warm Bodies is also brimming with humor and real emotion. In short, if you can get past the word "zombie," you're in for a real treat. Lionsgate's new release features a Dolby Atmos upgrade and it's a noticeable improvement. The action scenes featuring the "Boney" zombies definitely provide the most visceral impact, but subtle details like R's ever-present narration extend deeper into the listening area and sound fuller over. Dialogue is clear and intelligible throughout.

 

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Wonder Woman
Warner | Buy Now | Dolby Atmos available on Blu-ray, 4K UHD

Over the course of the past ten years, Warner Bros. and DC Comics have had a hell of a time dialing in the right tone for their live action adaptations of DC's legendary superheroes. (Don't get me started on Suicide Squad.) Man of Steel was solid but oh-so-somber. Batman v Superman doubled down on the somber, but it did have one bright spot in its introduction of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. In Patty Jenkins' supremely entertaining standalone film, with the spotlight focused squarely on her, Gal Gadot has provided a greatly-needed breath of fresh air (and levity!) for this unsteady DC movie-verse. Thankfully, Warner has bestowed a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundtrack on both the standard Blu-ray and the 4K Ultra HD release of Wonder Woman. The film sounds great from start to finish, but the sonic standout - and easily the film's best sequence - starts in the trenches of the battlefield, where Diana leads the men across "No Man's Land" to rescue a village besieged by the enemy. Whether it's the rampant machinegun fire, Diana's explosive hand-to-hand combat, or the use of her shield to crash through walls, the listener is completely immersed thanks to aggressive and effective use of the surround and overhead channels. Dialogue is extremely clear throughout and bass is tight and deep when called for - which is often. Highly recommended.

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