Investing in a new HDTV, sound system, or Blu-ray player is a wise decision when you see these fantastic movie sequences.
We have an HDTV. Definitely a good sound system. Get Your Show On! You know you’ll want to show off your new home theater to your friends once you’ve saved up enough money to acquire all the components. There is no doubt that Goodfellas is a superb film, but it won’t have anyone gushing about the visual or the sound. I’ve selected ten films that will make the most of your HDTV, sound system, and (if you’re lucky enough to have one) new Blu-ray player by showcasing stunning scenery, thrilling action, and aggressive, sub-woofer-heavy surround sound. The audience will be wowed by one or two memorable moments in each film. Baraka, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “The Dark Knight” were all shot in big film formats, showcasing the capabilities of Blu-ray. Take a look at these BD-only demos. You can amaze your pals with the DVD versions of “Casino Royale” (2006 edition), “Live Free, Die Hard,” “The Fifth Element,” and “Wall-E,” but the Blu-ray versions are even better. Neither “Chicken Run” nor “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (the 1995 version) are available on Blu-ray, but they demonstrate the potential of a DVD when seen on a widescreen TV with decent sound. As a result, I’ve only included scenes from movies that have been critically acclaimed or have been huge box office successes. There are a few current blockbusters here, but there’s also a cult favorite, a classic, a documentary, and some Shakespeare, too… This way, after you’ve dazzled them with a memorable sequence, you can keep them entertained for the duration of the movie.
HDTV, Check. Great Sound System, Check. Prepare to Show Off!
‘Baraka,’ a demo available only on Blu-ray This tone-poem of a documentary, shot in the Todd-AO in 1992, has some of the most gorgeous visuals ever captured on film. To create “the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined,” Roger Ebert scanned this extra-wide film at 8k (2k and 4k are the norms). I feel the same way. Until now, I’ve never seen anything on television that looked this nice. Fans of fast-paced, high-octane action will be disappointed. Nature, mankind, and the link between the two are all shown in moving visuals by Baraka, who doesn’t use a plot or characters. Even if you’re not in the mood for it, it’s worth viewing if you can. Scenes to Watch If I had to choose, I’d go with: The camera focuses on a monkey relaxing in a hot spring surrounded by snow in the first chapter. I caught myself staring at a single hair as it swayed in the breeze. Chapter 4: You can sense the movement as the camera gently pans through terraced gardens. In a tunnel, the sounds of other passengers can be heard all around you. As soon as it comes across a large group of males engaging in a “monkey” chant, it takes you completely by surprise. Astonishing Soundscapes DTS-HD Master Audio is recommended for optimal enjoyment of the stunning musical soundtrack.
1. Blu-ray-Only Demo — “Baraka”
“2001: A Space Odyssey” Blu-ray-Only Demo In 1968, Stanley Kubrick set out to create a space epic that would be able to fill a big screen. With each frame more than two-and-a-half times larger than conventional, it’s all about the big picture and the small details. On VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD, I refused to view this film; on Blu-ray, I rented and eventually purchased it. It’s a departure from the action-packed sci-fi we’ve come to expect from today’s movies. There’s an overture and an interval to this majestic performance. The movie’s plot twists and turns twice, and the ending is still up for debate. However, there are several reasons why it’s regarded as a classic. Scenes to Consider The Blue Danube is playing as a space shuttle from PanAm Airlines docks with a space station in Chapter 6. You’ve got the colossal size of the rotating station, the whirlwind of flying items, the Earth beneath, and the sky. Once you’ve got that down, there are all kinds of little details, like a pen floating in space and a pilot control panel. And then there’s the final shot, which is a real stunner. Astonishing Soundscapes If your Blu-ray player and amplifier are connected through HDMI, select the PCM soundtrack. Don’t bother with anything else. You can wow your pals by playing Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” over the opening credits if you want to show off the overwhelming strength of your sound system.
2. Blu-ray-Only Demo — “2001: A Space Odyssey”
Demo for “The Dark Knight” on Blu-ray-only Batman: Arkham Asylum was shot in IMAX, which means that each frame on the camera negative is eight times larger and has eight times the amount of detail. In the Blu-ray version, you can easily discern the IMAX moments because of their incredible crispness and clarity. Letterboxed sections of the movie are also shown in full-screen mode for the characters Scenes to Watch Chapter One: After over a minute of logos, an IMAX cityscape brings you into a strangely amusing yet surprisingly violent bank robbery, bringing you to the end of the film. It’s clear as a bell because it was shot in broad daylight. At night, in Imax and with a lot of shadow detail this chase is a tremendous one. In addition, there is a rig that is about to flip over. Dolby 5.1’s dispersed audio is a prime example of this. Shots are fired all around you in the first half-hour of the film. Duck! Astonishing Soundscapes The action sequences in this film take full advantage of your surround-sound system. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is the best option for maximum enjoyment.
3. Blu-ray-Only Demo — “The Dark Knight”
“Casino Royale” is better on Blu-ray, but the DVD version is quite fine (2006 version) There have been more reboots of the James Bond franchise than there are versions of Windows Vista, but none have been as radical or as rewarding as this stripped-down retelling of the original Bond novel. To focus on the film’s quality, we have to say that the Blu-ray release is a stunning presentation of a film shot extensively in several exotic locales. Scenes to Watch The second chapter of the book The movie’s first major chase takes place in Madagascar, where the beauty is fully exploited. An embassy is the final stop before the action moves on to a construction site (complete with a very high crane, which Bond and his prey both ascend, as depicted above). Despite the chase’s rapid pace, the editors take their time with several images so we can take in the scenery. Chapter 7: This time, the chase takes place at night in an airport. An early sight of an airplane in its hanger (46 minutes into the movie) shows off the capabilities of Blu-ray. It’s too dark to show off your TV as the chase moves outside, but it’s still a thrilling chase. Astonishing Soundscapes Choose a PCM audio track if you’re using an HDMI connection between your device and your sound system. Don’t bother with anything else.
4. Better in Blu-ray but Fine on DVD — “Casino Royale” (2006 version)
“Live Free, Die Hard” is better on Blu-ray, although it’s perfectly acceptable on DVD. However, Bruce Willis’ portrayal of working-class police hero John McClane in this fourth outing is still enjoyable. It’s also a great exercise for your audio system. Your friends will be aware of the quality of home theater sound. This is a good scene from Chapter 33. When driving a trailer truck on the interstate, even in the best of circumstances, the noise may be deafening. When a fighter plane starts shooting missiles at you, it’s a different story. Despite the fact that this is the most unbelievable scenario in the entire “Die Hard” series (and that’s saying a lot), it’s nonetheless entertaining and serves as a justification for some excellent action sound effects. This movie has a very limited amount of surround sound, but the front speakers and subwoofer are kept busy with a variety of crashes and explosions. When I inquired about this scene, a THX official informed me that the firm utilized it to showcase subwoofers. Astonishing Soundscapes Go for the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack to wow your friends and family.
5. Better in Blu-ray but Fine on DVD — “Live Free, Die Hard”
“The Fifth Element” is better on Blu-ray but fine on DVD. Although it failed to shatter box office records when it was released in 1997, this sci-fi adventure eventually developed a devoted fan base. For a time, it was also used as a sample disc in TV showrooms, and for good cause. In “The Fifth Element,” the sights are stunning, the sound is excellent, and it’s a lot of fun. This is one of the few futuristic films that is neither utopian nor dystopian, making it look more realistic and less preachy than most. Scenes to Watch This is the fifth chapter. With an unexpected twist, this vehicle chase takes place in a crowded city. The vehicles take to the air like a flock of birds. With the police hot on his pursuit, our cabbie hero (Bruce Willis) darts between what appears to be thousands of tiny flying vehicles at varying altitudes. For a movie chase, this one isn’t quite as fast-paced as most of them, but that gives you more time to appreciate the surroundings. Astonishing Soundscapes Alien opera singers sing their hearts out in front of a sea of uglier and more wicked aliens (above) in Chapter 13. Let your pals listen to the audio without worrying about the storyline. Mila Jovovich’s fight scene features an electrifying pop beat as well as full-throttle symphonic music, resulting in a hybrid of the two musical styles. The dialogue and gunfire can also be heard in the surrounds. Choose a PCM audio track if you’re using an HDMI connection between your device and your sound system. If not, Dolby TrueHD is the way to go.
6. Better in Blu-ray but Fine on DVD — “The Fifth Element”
The Blu-ray version is preferable, but the DVD version of “Wall-E” is also adequate. As vanilla ice cream and chocolate chips mix well together, so do computer animation and digital video (such as DVD, Blu-ray, and HDTV). The other is just a gorgeous presentation of the first. One of the most technically advanced animated films ever made, “Wall-E” features stunning visuals and unique sound effects. It’s also a lot of fun, appropriate for all ages, and just shy of becoming a superb movie. Scenes to Watch Chapter One: 45 seconds of logos (the Pixar one is charming, though) later, you’re presented to a breathtaking view of space, followed by a gradual pan to the desolate, nearly lifeless Earth. Towers of compacted garbage appear as you rise to the surface of a cityscape (above). There’s a lot of fine craftsmanship on display here. Our little, robotic hero chases a weird red light, which is simply the precursor of the massive spaceship that nearly lands on his head. Although the graphics are impressive, it is the music and sound effects that steal the show. The subwoofer rumbles as the rockets touch down, and the doors open around Wall-E, creating a wonderful sense of depth. However, it’s possible that the sound will be muffled by the laughter of your companions. To get the highest sound quality, choose the DTS Master Audio track.
7. Better in Blu-ray but Fine on DVD — “Wall-E”
“Chicken Run” is a new DVD release from The Art of Stop Animation. Photographs were taken of actual clay models that had been physically moved a little amount and then moved again. Scenes to Consider The 15th chapter Her rooster steps in to save our feathered heroine from an automated chicken pie-making machine (above). This sequence has a lot of fantastic surround sound, but there is one “wow” moment in particular. After 52 minutes and 2.5 minutes, the rooster remarks, “It’s like an oven in here.” Pay attention. At a distance, you’ll hear the sound of a series of gas jets turning on and off. Astonishing Soundscapes One of the best audio sequences in “Chicken Run” showcases your surround speakers while still delighting all ages. If you have a DTS-enabled amplifier, use that choice. Other than that, you can go with Dolby Digital 5.1. There is no need to show off your home theater system with the Dolby Surround 2.0 option.
8. Just on DVD — “Chicken Run”
Currently available on DVD are “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Indiana Jones — The Adventure Collection.” First and foremost, let’s clear up any misunderstandings about the title. Originally titled Raiders of the Lost Ark, this film was renamed “Raiders.” “Indiana Jones and the… ” was then included, but the film’s title remained unchanged. Regardless of the name, this is one of the best action films ever filmed. But you’ve probably already figured it out. Scenes to Consider The 23rd chapter: In the long run, your buddies have undoubtedly watched this thrilling horse and vehicle pursuit through the desert (above). Even if it’s more effective in person, they’ve never seen it on a widescreen HDTV, so they’re missing out on the full immersive experience. Everything about this image screams “wide screen.” There are two rows of soldiers in the vehicle, and the action is almost always horizontal. “Raiders” is PG-13 rated, yet the brutality is enough to warrant a PG-13 today.
9. Just on DVD — “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”
“Richard III” is only available as a home video download right now (1995 version) When Shakespeare updated his political melodrama to 1930s England (while retaining Elizabethan language), it became a parable for the emergence of fascism. One of the greatest Shakespeare films ever made, but more importantly for our demo purposes, it boasts one of the best usage of a low-frequency effects track (the.1 in 5.1) since the subwoofer was invented. Scenes to Consider Chapter One: “This is not your father’s Shakespeare movie,” the nearly-dialogue-free pre-title sequence appears to state, “This is not your father’s Shakespeare movie.” After 30 seconds of stillness, a faint teletype machine noise may be heard in the distance. In the space of two minutes, the noises become more focused, quieter, more tense. then there is a growing rumble. Your floor may be trembling by the time the tank crashes through the brick fireplace.