Super 8 is a great one too
Depends on what you want to show off. If it's sheer thrust of the LFE and subwoofer, then U571 is a classic with the depth charges. Super 8the train wreck scene is another great demo for that. An unheralded dark horse is the Tom Cruise war of the worlds. My goodness, the bass there is earth shattering (no pun intended).
For nuances and surround effects, A agree with Transformers and will add the Star Wars movies, Lord of the Rings, and the Marvel movies like Avengers, Thor, and Iron Man. Surprisingly, Avengers isn't an LFE demo-worthy movie like the others. Some scenes in Thorlike the throne room and Ice Giants battle scenes are great.
And last but not least, don't forget the home theater classic demoThe Fifth Element.
There's lots to enjoy :-)
Master and Commander is the best I've heard to date to show how good (or bad) any system is performing. I think this is because so many of the sounds are so familiar to us all, especially the weather sound f/x. For an old audiophile who has tested 2-channel systems with Telarc's canons on their nefarious 1812 Overture, it seems that good there is enough bombardment in M & C to really see how realistic one's TV system can sound. I'm running a Pioneer SC-27 with Ice amps to an all Infinity Interlude system that includes a 12" self-powered sub in each of the 2 fronts. The room correction feature is very good, especially after tuning the subs with their own RABOS toolkit, but I need access to a lot of ballistics to point out things that rattle and shake in the house to keep everything sounding good.
Another vote for Master And Commander mainly because of the native 7.1 sound track. Foley sound is such a stunningly underrated art form and in this film they are extremely well done.
I know what a cannon sounds like in real life but the sound of a spaceship blowing up in space is still a mystery to me.
How many Gladiators can rock the Violin?
I'm going to put it to the test (as a test disc) again on Monday night, as my HT system is getting an upgrade. UPS is bringing the last two maple platforms I ordered from dawnsplatforms on ebay. I have made major improvements to my 2-channel system by putting platforms under each component and separate power supply. UPS split the shipment and I only got one today, a 12"x12"x3" butcher block that I installed on mapleshade isoblocks to support the Lilliputian set-top box provided by ATT/Uverse. The receiver rests on triceratops bearclaws.The missing ones are a pair of 20"x15"x3.5" monsters to fit under the Blue-Ray player (currently a Denon BD3810, sometimes bring in the OPPO 95 from the stereo)and a Pioneer Elite SC-27 receiver.
While seriously disappointed that my project can't be completed until Monday, I am heartened by the improvements made already to the sound(Dolby Digital 5.1, compressed from ATT) and especially the video that comes from giving their crappy little mass-produced receiver a proper platform. The alien scenery in a recent episode of Dr. Who was breathtaking in the vast complexity of orbiting bodies swirling past an outlook point and triggered an attack of my own fear of heights. Colors are more vibrant and details are more precise. I can't wait to see what platforms do for Master and Commander after I get one under the Denon and the receiver.
Master & Commander gets another vote. The sound is totally immersive. All of the minor ambient sounds are presented in great detail. Every time I watch that movie, I expect my house to be in total shambles and drenched in water when I turn the lights back on. You get a real feeling that you are actually on that ship.
My goto HT tests have always included Fantasia and 2001 a Space Odyssey. The "Night on Bald Mountain" in Fantasia will definitely let you know what your sound system can, or can't do. Ditto for Kubrick's film, which combines wide angle shots with a Strauss soundtrack.
I also like using The Battle of Britain. There's no CGI rubbish. The engine roars and machine gun fire are both very realistic at high volumes.