Spider-Man Homecoming in Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos Sound

spider-man homecoming

I’m a big fan of the Marvel franchise, much more so than the dark DC universe. The Marvel stories have more humor, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. (From the trailer, Justice League looks like it might have at least a few lighter moments.) So I was eager to see Spider-Man Homecoming in a Dolby Cinema with Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos immersive sound.

Several months after the events of the first Avengers movie, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his crew are cleaning up the debris from the final battle with the Chitauri. When he’s fired by Anne Marie Hoag (Tyne Daly) of the government’s Department of Damage Control, his crew steals some of the alien technology from the rubble.

Eight years later, Toomes is now a supplier of alien technology-based weapons to the underworld. Meanwhile, a freshly minted Spider-Man (Tom Holland) joins the ruckus in Captain America: Civil War. In Spider-Man Homecoming, his alter ego, Peter Parker, tries to reintegrate into his normal life as a high-school teenager. He lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), pining for more missions with the Avengers. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t think he’s ready—his spider suit is in Training Wheels mode—so Peter goes out on his own to bring bad guys to justice.

Peter’s point of contact with Stark is Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who is anything but happy. Other notable—if brief—appearances include Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Captain America (Chris Evans), and, of course, a cameo by Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man and much of the entire Marvel universe.

The movie is marvelous, with lots of humor, witty repartee, and surprise twists. I think it’s common knowledge—and thus not a spoiler to say—that Adrian Toomes is the villain in this story, who flies around in a giant birdlike contraption. This casting was a stroke of genius, given Michael Keaton’s Oscar-nominated role in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as a has-been movie superhero called Birdman.

The imagery in Dolby Vision HDR is amazing. The opening full-field black screen is truly black, and there are many super-dark scenes with plenty of shadow detail. Also, the highlights are exceptional. For example, in one scene early in the movie, Spider-Man is sitting dejected on a roof in the late afternoon with the sun near the horizon. That sun is super-bright yet not blown out, and the rest of the shot is full of detail. I noticed the same thing in the opening Columbia Pictures logo; the light from the upheld torch is really bright without obscuring the rest of the image.

Likewise, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is wonderful. Spider-Man slings his webs all around the theater, and the flying villain is often heard above and around the audience. And like many modern Atmos soundtracks, the music is mixed way into the room, engulfing moviegoers in the excellent score by Michael Giacchino and a variety of classic and newer rock songs.

However, the sound levels were way too high. Leq (average RMS level over the entire length of the movie plus trailers) = 98.5 dBZ (flat), 90.9 dBA, 97.9 dBC; Lmax (maximum 1-second RMS level) = 120.2 dBZ; L10 (level exceeded 10% of the time) = 101.8 dBZ; L50 (level exceeded 50% of the time) = 89.7 dBZ. The overall average was almost 6 dB above reference level!

Despite the high sound levels, I highly recommend Spider-Man Homecoming for Marvel fans of all ages, especially teens. It’s fun and funny with plenty to engage adults and kids alike. And Tom Holland is superb as the 15-year-old web slinger (he’s actually 21!). I’m sure his background as a dancer helped him make all those acrobatics look smooth as silk.

Even better, the Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos immersive sound are among the best I’ve experienced to date. If you are near a Dolby Cinema (for a list of locations, click here), I strongly recommend seeing it there; the extra few bucks are well worth it in this case. Just be sure to bring earplugs!