Surround Sound Movies?
June 30, 2007 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend some good movies to watch that will utilize my surround sound, but won't put me to sleep?

I generally dislike action movies, but I have this surround sound system and I'd really like to watch some movies that would put the thing to use, as opposed to the quiet dramas that I usually watch. The problem is that I usually find action sequences that are not part of an interesting plot boring, plus an overabundance of gratuitous gunplay annoys me. I don't like "buddy" movies, crime action movies (unless the crime itself is interesting), war movies (unless they're obviously about how awful war is such as "Full Metal Jacket" NOT movies like "Saving Private Ryan" or "Braveheart"), or mafia/mob movies. There are action-esque movies that I have enjoyed, however, and hopefully someone can recommend movies that are similar. Here are a few:

Children of Men
The Island
Independence Day
Blood Diamond
The Fugitive
Sin City
Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Sci-fi and horror movies that people have enjoyed in surround sound are also welcome. Thanks!
posted by eunoia to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Too bad you said you didn't want to see Saving Private Ryan. The opening battle scene in DTS is pretty spectacular. The rest of the movie is meh.

The shootout at the end of Heat with the right setup makes you feel like you're right in the middle of the fight and you can hear shell casings falling to the ground from everywhere in your living room.
posted by birdherder at 8:40 AM on June 30, 2007

Don't forget The Matrix.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 8:41 AM on June 30, 2007

As strange as it sounds, the latest Disney/Pixar stuff can be pretty great this way. Finding Nemo has several amazing scenes (the seagull escape in the harbor is cool).

Also, if your system does music processing into surround, check out the effects you can get. Some purists sneer, but listening to 'The Wall' in surround adds a whole 'nother level.
posted by pupdog at 8:48 AM on June 30, 2007

pupdog: I hadn't even thought about Disney/Pixar, but I can totally see how some of those movies would sound great.

And I'm definitely going to rewatch The Wall, which would have to be amazing in surround sound. Thanks!
posted by eunoia at 8:54 AM on June 30, 2007

Koyaanisqatsi ? Phillip Glass soundtrack.
posted by doctorschlock at 8:58 AM on June 30, 2007

Master and Commander...subtle, gorgeous, insane sound
Remember the Titans - the on-field action sounds are great
Requiem for a Dream - subtle but great utilization of all of your speakers
Saving Private Ryan - yep I know you said you didn't want to see it but if you ever change your mind the sound will knock your socks off.

This seems like a decent list. I'd recommend most of these. Some of the movies are not the best, but there's a lot of action there and the sound is good on most.
posted by iconomy at 9:02 AM on June 30, 2007

The Fifth Element!
posted by aubilenon at 9:03 AM on June 30, 2007

And depending on how much you're into the big spectacle movies, The Pirates of the Caribbean flicks are awesome, you can't go wrong with cannons. Master and Commander for the same reason.

And for the record, yes, I used to sell these systems, and we tried out a lot of stuff to get good demos. The Lion King special edition with DTS that was put out a couple of years ago is great, the whole opening 'Circle of Life' comes at you from every angle.

And there's always the old standbys - Star Wars. The Original Trilogy was remixed, and the newer movies had some great sound, for their shortcomings. The PodRace in Phantom Menace is a lot better at a decent volume with surround.
posted by pupdog at 9:16 AM on June 30, 2007

Try out old favorites, if this is a new system - you'll notice things that weren't there before. Lots of TV stuff is way improved with good surround, and you'd never realize it until you hear it.

Also, Harry Potter rules at this. Lots of ambient noise in the background.

I just keep talking.
posted by pupdog at 9:21 AM on June 30, 2007

BLACK HAWK DOWN - I got a buddy that uses this movie to evangelize surround sound, and it makes a convincing case.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:22 AM on June 30, 2007

I just watched My Summer of Love and really enjoyed it. The soundtrack is great, dreamy. It's somewhat quiet and reflective, but the sounds are delicate (i.e. water, a moped engine) and it might play nicely with a great sound system. Maybe look for movies with music you really like.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:23 AM on June 30, 2007

Man, The Incredibles is a fine movie. I usually hate moves, especially Pixar turds, but this won me over toot sweet.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:31 AM on June 30, 2007

Seconding The Fifth's even more fun (as if that's possible) with a good sound system.

Also, in the same vein as Koyaanisqatsi, Baraka.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:31 AM on June 30, 2007

I'd think Apocalypse Now would fit the bill.
posted by thelongcon at 9:34 AM on June 30, 2007

Dude... check out Das Boot. The creaking of the submarine around you gives you a real feel for the claustrophobia of the experience.
posted by ph00dz at 10:24 AM on June 30, 2007

They're not action movies, but, often, things that appeared in Imax theaters have really good surround mixes. I'm thinking of Winged Migration, but there are plenty of others.

And it's hard to recommend music DVDs without knowing what kind of music you like, but there are a lot of good 5.1 music DVDs. The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and the Led Zeppelin DVD both sound really good, and I'm not even a big fan of either group.

Seconding the qatsi/Baraka-type stuff, too.
posted by box at 11:13 AM on June 30, 2007

Jaws is good on surround, I think.
posted by inigo2 at 11:18 AM on June 30, 2007

Watched that magician movie the other day...what was it called now... Had the bloke from X-Men up against the new Batman. You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off was there too.
Anyhoots there are some bits where they use electricity... oh Ziggy Stardust makes an appearance, with Gollum as his sidekick... they use this Telsa-invented device and you felt like you were right in the middle of this thing.

The Prestige. That was it. Good film.

If that's not up your street then I agree with ph00dz and have a look at Das Boot. Same sort of thing as with the electricity, makes you feel like you are in there with them.
posted by Webbster at 11:51 AM on June 30, 2007

I, too, was going to say the Prestige.
I imagine tesla's machine firing up would be pretty incredible if it was done right (I, however haven't personally seen it in surround, so can't vouch).

Also, if you liked Sin City and Grindhouse, check out some of Robert Rodriguez' other films (Specifically the three Mariachi movies: El Mariachi, Desperado, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. The production values get better with each one, but El Mariachi is the most interesting of the three.)
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2007

Also, maybe Lucky Number Slevin? That movie's rather good if you don't think alot about the fact that alot of the plot elements only mostly make sense. Really well done dialogue, though.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:47 PM on June 30, 2007

Here's a great way to do this - look at the list of movies that were contenders for the Academy Award for Sound.
posted by lubujackson at 1:35 PM on June 30, 2007

Seconding Master and Commander. The sound design in those naval battle scenes is mindblowing.
posted by saladin at 2:27 PM on June 30, 2007

Master and Commander won an Oscar for sound editing.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:26 PM on June 30, 2007

seconding both "master and commander" and "black hawk down." i bet "braveheart" and "gladiator" would be neat, too.

as far as sci fi goes, "serenity" was a heck of a lot of fun. and, of course, "star wars" and "indiana jones" would be, too.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:10 PM on June 30, 2007

The BBC Planet Earth will change everything, not so much a "movie", but at times it sure feels like one.
posted by Palerale at 10:24 AM on July 1, 2007

Twister used to be the standard for showing off 5.1 sound systems, back in the day when DVDs were fancy and new.
posted by smackfu at 2:11 PM on July 13, 2007

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