Just catching up on some reviews. First, it's time to surrender my man card...Tinker Bell (PCM 5.1) - Tier 1
Not much low end activity happening in this one, though the surrounds are consistently engaged and the whole mix is full of top end detail (fairy sound effects, you know). Voices are crystal clear and the musical score is presented very well. On the whole, it reminded me a lot of the mix for "Up" (which I also gave a Tier 1 score to).Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (DTS-HD MA 5.1) - Tier 0
Things get much more interesting here. Take all the strengths of the "Tinker Bell" track and add a more rousing musical score (with drums this time!) and more frequent LFE, and the result is a surprisingly robust and engaging audio mix.
(As an aside, I thought the movie was quite a bit better than "Tinker Bell," and I really liked the platonic relationship between Tink and Terrance, who have more real chemistry than most couples in rom-coms who have "chemistry" solely because of the machinations of the plot. It sets a great example for young girls.)
O.K., time to take the man card back...Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (DTS-HD MA 5.1) - Reference
One of my all-time favorite tracks, which I've never rated for the purposes of this thread. I sat down to watch it again last week, and was consistently floored by it. Clear dialogue, impeccable imaging, beautiful score, and (of course) LFE that simulates the thrill and horror of cannon warfare and nasty weather better than any other movie I've seen. This is one of my all-time favorite movies as well, so it's a win-win no matter how you look at it. Live Free or Die Hard (DTS-HD MA 5.1) - Reference
Another favorite track, and a true guilty pleasure. The sound mix here is just as crazy and over-the-top as the action in the film. Y'know, if I were driving a semi truck with a Harrier jet blowing up a freeway overpass behind me, I'd expect it to sound just like that. Or launching a police car into a helicopter. Or something more benign like an automatic weapons shootout in a dank apartment building. This track has it all.Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (DTS-HD MA 5.1) - Tier 0
After reading some of the reviews on this thread, I was gearing up for a less-than-impressive listening experience. But I was often impressed! No, the mix isn't in the same league as "Kung Fu Panda," "Monsters, Inc.," or "A Bug's Life," but I found it consistently involving from start to finish. LFE activity in the last 30 minutes was excellent, about on par IMO with "Monsters Vs. Aliens." Things got so intense sound-wise that my preschool-age daughter has cowered in fear both times we watched it.
(As a side note, I really enjoyed the movie. Between this, "Coraline," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," and "Up," 2009 was a great year for animation. Should I throw "Avatar" into the mix too?
)Forrest Gump (DTS-HD MA 5.1 3.1?) - Tier 1
I haven't revisited this movie in several years, having watched it countless times on widescreen VHS and later DVD up until a few years ago. For the most part it sounded much the same as it always has: kinda flat, not much happening in most places. Knowing that the re-recording artists deliberately avoided mixing any sounds into the rear channels helped me experience the movie from a new perspective this time. I respect the artistic decision by Zemeckis, but it really felt like a gimmick to me. For a largely stereo recording, imaging was done pretty well - the sounds of cicadas in Alabama, for instance, really seemed to emanate beyond the speakers. Rainstorms were consistently disappointing, though.
It really felt like a Tier 2/Tier 3 mix most of the way through - EXCEPT
for the Vietnam and hurricane sequences, which brought my sub roaring to life in a way I've rarely experienced. Holy cow! Based on the Reference-level strength of those scenes (which were all too brief), I think the mix as a whole merits a Tier 1.
Also, no matter how many times I watch that movie, the ending gets me. Every. Single. Time. Dang it.