Master and Commander
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For great movies to have in the collection with music and sound.... I recommend Blade Runner, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben-Hur, The Godfather - all three, Nikita, Gladiator, Matrix - again, all three, Bourne Identity/Ultimatum/Supremacy - again all three (great music and great action), The second to last James Bond - Casino Royale, and if you haven't seen them in a while, the entire Star Wars series. Somewhat lacking music/explosions, I think The Departed, Brazil, The Shawshank Redemption, The Usual Suspects, Schindler's List, and Grand Bleu are all great gotta-have'em-in-the-collection movies. I have only listed a few older classics. Some (not listed) really deserve to be in a DVD collection, but relatively few have epic soundtracks.
For great, dynamic, and musical soundtracks, nothing beats Lawrence of Arabia (and some of its most musical moments are those with silence - a true cinematic masterpiece (Ben-Hur does pretty well in this case as well)). I think Gladiator, and the Matrix films do pretty well on loudness (though some of the recent winners in terms of big, thundering bass are indeed Master & Commander and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (always good for a laugh)). Nikita and the Bourne movies do well for a combination of intelligent action and scores well implemented. The others I tossed in there for just being great DVD movies...
I'm not sure about DVD but the latest release of Akira on Blu Ray is considered from a technical standpoint the best possible audio soundtrack ever released (on any movie format) and is identical to the studio masters bit for bit.
To give you some perspective it was recorded in 5.1 channel 192kHz/24 bit. The DTS-HD soundtrack is 12 mbps, that is nearly 10 times less compressed then the best DTS soundtrack and it's audio only portion is nearly the entire size of the complete portion of Batman Begins Blu Ray.
I have ordered it and will report my findings.
Star Wars Phantom Menace is still considered a reference to this day. The first movie to utilize 6.1 Dolby Digital EX. Saving Private Ryan is another excellent choice. Ronin is a very UNDERRATED soundtrack but offers incredible dynamics. The car chase scenes are enhanced by the lack of soundtrack, all one hears for many minutes is the rev of the engines.
I recently watched "Hancock" on blue ray and found that the soundtrack had a ton of impact. Side note, I found it a far more involving and thought provoking (not to mention funny) Super Hero /Comic Book flick than Dark Knight. I'm really confused by the generally lukewarm reaction this film got.
Some reference movies in my collection for both video and sound are:
The Lord the Ring series, extended versions.
Blade 2, Some killer bass on this disc.
-From Pixar-THE Incredibles, Toy Story 2 and Nemo. The image is as good as it gets with Pixar + great bass effects. Nemo has bass that drops to 10hz.
-The Matrix series
- House of flying daggers and Jet li's Hero. Both beautifully shot and with some of the best use of surround sound to date.
THe Blu-Ray versions if they are available are better still.