So you have spent the big bucks on getting a surround sound system and now you are looking for films to try it out. The truth is that while you will get above the average performance as regards the audio with the system, getting the best surround sound movies would do the trick much better. It doesn’t matter whether you are an audiophile or a dedicated movie watcher, or even one that is just casual, a good soundtrack can change your experience entirely.
When it comes to surround sound, the experience is taken a notch higher. Naturally, when you watch movies or listen to music, the sound only comes from where the speakers are placed. Because of this, even when you shut your eyes, you can tell where the speaker is placed. However, with surround sound, the sound seems to come from everywhere so that you can’t tell where the speakers are placed. When watching movies with this, you can have the feeling of being placed in the movie.
Like we have stated, you will get better performance with these systems with most films, but to get the real surround experience, we have collected some movies that are worth watching.
Best Surround Sound Movies
1. The Dark Knight
This is one of the first movies that one needs to watch if one has a surround sound system. This Christopher Nolan film is the second in The Dark Knight Trilogy which was released in 2008 after 2005’s Batman Begin based on DC Comics character, Batman.
Regarded as one of the best of the 21st century, this movie does not only tick the boxes for a great story, casting, editing, and effects but most importantly for those interested in what the audio is like, great sound.
There is no effort in audio engineering, yet it delivers enough to answer the most important questions that any audiophile will have to ask. Needless to say, it won the Best Sound Editing at the Academy Awards.
With Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón did something that many considered to be magic with the sound, delivering an innovative sound that has never been seen in movies. The sound it produces is almost so real that one may think one can actually touch it. What is, even more, is the immersive surround sound experience that it delivers.
Since it is a sci-fi movie set in space where the only sound one gets is from the perspective of touch. The sound follows the audience as the actor move in space. Before Gravity, space movies make use of a lot of music because of the overwhelming silence. This time around, it is through touch and vibration that the sound is intelligently transmitted.
For anyone who wants to use a movie to test one’s surround sound system, this may likely be among the first films any audiophile will recommend.
3. Star Trek: Into Darkness
Star Trek will also remain a franchise to go back to for anyone who wants something great for the weekend. If it is something for surround sound is what you need, then it has to be Star Trek: Into Darkness. The franchise as a whole is great in that regards.
The sound effect featured the legendary sound designer Ben Burtt. In the movie, Paramount pictures and Dolby laboratories Inc. made use of the Dolby Atmos which makes the sound to move in a three-dimensional space, in order to make one have the experience of being in the movie. This works very well for the movie, giving you a more natural and realistic soundtrack.
4. Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World
This movie slugged it with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King at the 76th Academy Awards and lost in most other categories except for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Editing. This is easy to understand as the movie is arguably one of the best in terms of sound.
The movie takes advantage of surround sound to create a maritime environment that one will not only love but entirely get involved in. As the sea hits the boat to the creaking of its planks, it is all captured with details and completeness with all ease to get you fully enveloped.
How was the sonic effect as good as it is? The sound designer and Richard King and director Peter Weir were said to have spent a lot of time reading the works of Patrick O’Brian in order to be able to get the inspiration for the rich sonic world created.
5. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Critically speaking, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is not the best movie that has been released in 2009. It scored very low points on platforms like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. However, it was a success on the box office turning in over $836 million globally.
One place where the movie got everything very right is when it comes to the sound. You get to feel the intensity of the action and the movement of the robots come alive with the way they smash things certainly real in the sense of sound. Every sound, including the background sound of explosions and other things happening, are picked and delivered distinctively and realistically.
The movie will not make it on many lists of the best surround sound movies, because of the production itself, but as far as the sound is concerned, it will always have a place.
The American computer-animated sci-fi film Wall-E will never be missing from any list unless it is not long enough. This is not surprising considering that Pixar has built and maintained a good reputation as regards the sound and the visuals. With Wall-E, it has stepped up.
Why sound is very important here is because it is mostly an animation that has no dialog. However, the great sound has more than made up for that even for someone who is an audiophile.
7. Mad Max: Fury Road
Directed by George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road is one movie that makes it easy for you to appreciate surround sound. From the start of the film till the end, the audio that is produced in the movie may not be appreciated by someone making use of a lower system, even though it still has something good to offer.
But then, when using a powerful surround system, everything goes to another level entirely. From the roaring of engines to the furious drums and the many sounds that you will hear in the movie, it is all not only intense but also real for the entire two hours that it runs.
Like some others on the list, the film won the Best Sound Editing as well as the Best Sound Mixing at the 2016 Academy Award.
Another Christopher Nolan movie to make the list, Inception is one of those films that one cannot get tired of watching. A cinematic excellent production, the sound engineering is also something that adds a lot to everything.
What inception does is to change the way sound is listened to in movies almost completely. It brought a sound effect that is still now copied by many other movies. But more than just that, the surround sound is also great enough to feel yourself in all the dream and subconscious experiences.
At the Academy Awards, the movie clinched various awards including the Best Sound Editing and the Best Sound Mixing. It also won the Best Sound at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts as well as Sound Effect at the Motion Picture Sound Editors.
9. Saving Private Ryan
A Steven Spielberg directed movie, “Saving Private Ryan” arguably has the best sound in any movie prior to 2000s and may top any list for best sound surround movies. Thanks to the sound of this action movie, you get the feeling that you are actually on the battlefield.
The collaboration between Spielberg and Gary Rydstorm who is the sound designer is truly remarkable most especially with the way the sound is made to be a part of the movie. Thanks to this, the passage of every bullet can be heard almost in real life, the same as everything else. This is the movie that changed how sounds were used in war films.
Needless to say, it won the C.A.S. Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Feature Film, Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing, as well as the Academy Award for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing in 1999. Two decades since the movie was produced, its sound is something that will always be referenced.
10. American Sniper
Directed by Clint Eastwood, American Sniper is another movie that has excellent audio. From the dialog to all the explosions and gun battle, it all sounds real thanks to its superior sound editing that landed the movie a Best Sound Editing awards and a Best Sound Mixing nomination at the Academy Awards.
The 2014 American biographical war drama film ended as the best grossing war film of all time. What makes it even worthwhile is that the great audio complements the great visuals.