Black Panther obliterated expectations and set box office records on the back of incredible direction from Ryan Coogler (Creed) and a sparkling ensemble performance from a cast including big names like Sterling K. Brown, Forest Whitaker, and Michael B. Jordan. The Marvel movie — one of two on our list, both recent releases — focuses on T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the superpowered leader and guardian of Wakanda, an African nation blessed with extraterrestrial technologies and shrouded from the outside world.
Jordan’s character, Killmonger, intrudes on this utopia, fracturing Wakandan politics and endangering the world with radical plans. Coogler — aided by Kendrick Lamar — underscores all of Wakanda’s shine with a gritty, hip-hop inspired soundtrack that will sound even better on an Atmos system.
Ragnarok flipped the script, refreshing a series that had, to be honest, gotten somewhat stale with Thor: The Dark World. Here, new director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows) imbues Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with a renewed sense of humor, one which powers the movie — almost as much a comedy as it is an action flick — and helps him stay confident in the face of his scary older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), who’s returned to take control of Asgard. Ragnarok has some pretty great fight sequences, as well as incredibly traces of ’70s sci-fi nostalgia, and an early scene where Thor battles a massive, fiery giant of sorts. Ragnarok isn’t necessarily the best Atmos film but it’s fun, action-packed and bombastic.
Mad Max: Fury Road, the resurrection of George Miller’s apocalyptic ’80s franchise, was a surprise smash hit, garnering rave reviews for its highly kinetic action and uncompromising vision of dystopia. Set in Australia years after nuclear war has scorched the Earth, the film follows series protagonist Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) as he joins a band of women fleeing a brutal warlord. The ensuing chase sets the ugliness of machinery against the beauty of the natural world, as ramshackle vehicles hound each other across the red wastes.
As metal clashes and flames erupt, the sound is as important as the explosive visuals, surrounding the audience with a symphony of warfare. Fury Road is an intense two-hour chase sequence underscored by a muscular soundtrack from Junkie XL. It’s a celebration of everything action movies should aspire to be, and one of the best Dolby Atmos demonstrations available today.
In Hacksaw Ridge, Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist and conscientious objector who nonetheless enlists in the military to serve during World War II. Despite refusing to touch a gun, Doss becomes a critical contributor, working as a combat medic during the Battle of Okinawa to save the lives of many American soldiers. Hacksaw Ridge doesn’t break much new ground — in fact, it falls victim to many of the same tropes that have always plagued war movies — but its battle scenes, based on a true story, are frantic, kinetic affairs, with believable anguish and choreographed chaos. Few genres can get as much mileage out of a surround sound system (or an Atmos one). If only Dunkirk was on the list of supported titles.
As brutal as it is heartbreaking, Logan takes Wolverine — and the superhero genre as a whole — into unfamiliar territory. The film serves as the perfect swan song for the titular character who’s been clawing up bad guys and evil mutants for nearly two decades. Wolverine’s “softer side” is on full display in Logan, but that doesn’t mean our favorite killer mutant (sorry, Deadpool) doesn’t show his animal side, too. Hearing the sounds of Wolverine’s claws unfurl and slice through a horde of evildoers is as stirring as it is frightening, especially when it’s magnified through a Dolby Atmos system that makes you feel like you’re right beside the lone mutant.
It may be hard to imagine that mere miles from the border of Texas are cities that resemble war zones. Such is the case with Juarez, Mexico, a city with one of the highest murder rates in the world. It is in this borderland that Sicario sets its story as FBI agent Kate Mercer (Emily Blunt) joins a covert operation to hunt down a cartel leader responsible for a series of killings in America. As the strike team moves closer to its goal, Kate experiences firsthand the horror of the war on drugs, a conflict that corrupts both sides of the border.
Heavy subject matter aside, Sicario is a relentless thriller, with a cloud of dread hanging above even the most sunlit scenes. When the tension snaps and the bullets start flying, viewers may feel as if they have been sucked into the vicious quagmire themselves.
Director Edgar Wright is known for straying off the cinematic beaten path — like in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the hilarious Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy — and Baby Driver is no exception. The film follows Baby (Ansel Elgort), an ace driver who finds himself simultaneously courting a beautiful waitress (Lily James) and trying to extricate himself from a dangerous gang of criminals, led by Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey. Wright creatively blends the film’s sound effects into Baby’s music choices — he’s always got his earbuds going, thanks to some nasty tinnitus — turning a slick heist setup into something entirely different. You’ll want to hear it on Dolby Atmos.