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post #1 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 06:55 AM - Thread Starter
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How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Blu-ray) Official AVSforum Review



Check out our review of this thrilling second chapter of the epic How to Train Your Dragon trilogy that returns to the fantastical world of the heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless. The inseparable duo must protect the peace and save the future of men and dragons from the power-hungry Drago.




The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

96



Details:

Studio and Year: DreamWorks - 2014
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 102 minutes
Genre: Adventure

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Voices of: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrer, T.J. Miller, Kristin Wiig, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Cate Blancett, Kit Harrington, Djimon Hounsou
Directed by: Dean DeBlois
Music by: John Powell
Written by: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 11, 2014


"Together they have the power to change the future of both men and dragons"


My Take:

Based on the children’s book series by Cressida Cowell, How to train your Dragon 2 is the thrilling second chapter of the epic trilogy. Five years have passed since the heroic young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) befriended an injured dragon and forever changed the way the residents of Berk interact with the fire-breathers. Now, Vikings and dragons live side-by-side in peace on the fantastical isle that has been transformed into a dragon’s paradise.
But when grown-up responsibilities loom on the horizon, Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless take to the skies in search of answers. It’s much more than he bargained for, though, when Hiccup comes across a colony of dragons led by a mysterious dragon rider (whose secret identity hits very close to home), and discovers that the peace between dragons and Vikings is threatened by the power-hungry Drago.

In order to win out over Drago, Hiccup and Toothless, aided by Astrid, Gobber, Snotlout, Fishlegs and twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut along with Hiccup’s tribal chief father Stoick and new ally the dragon rider must work together to protect the dragons they have grown to love. In the process, Hiccup finds the answers he has been looking for in ways he could never have imagined.

I am admittedly a fan of How to train your Dragon. It is a big hit with my family and I have seen it numerous times. It is one of those wonderfully entertaining animated films that never seems to lose its luster. When How to train your Dragon 2 was released earlier this year we saw it opening weekend. Like its predecessor the story is well developed and carries a positive message about friendship, forgiveness and family while adding a spirited element of adventure that combine for a delightfully entertaining animated film that’s easy to get lost in as it warms the heart, and tickles the funny bone.

As much as I like How to train your Dragon I enjoy How to train your Dragon 2 a little more. With the characters now established we get a narrative in this film that has just a smidge more depth. Hiccup is coming into his own and is being looked to by his father for leadership among their village. His relationship with Toothless has grown to a point where they can nearly sense one another’s thoughts. The events later in the film will test that friendship in a way that you may not see coming. New characters, both good and bad, are introduced which enable the storyline to branch off in a meaningful direction.

There is no doubt that How to train your Dragon 2 is primarily aimed at a specific target demographic however its themes of coming of age, familial estrangement and loss elevate it, providing resonant tones that appeal to a broader audience. Having seen it twice now I found myself every bit as caught up and reveling in the well spun and familiar humor, captivated by the superlative animation and choked up by the pitch perfect and effectual emotion. The entire voice cast from the first film reprise their roles and are every bit as fun while newcomers Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou and Kit Harrington have no trouble fitting right in. As I mentioned earlier the production elements are simply amazing and add an enriching element that makes the experience all the better.

I can’t say enough about How to train your Dragon 2. It is a befitting sequel that builds upon the foundation of the first film and takes it up a notch. It’s an endearing family film that is sure to see plenty of replays in my home. A third film has been announced and I eagerly await what lies in store for Hiccup, Toothless and the gang from Berk…


Available exclusively on the Blu-ray combo pack, DVD double pack and Digital HD of How to train your Dragon 2 fans will get even more excitement, adventure and, of course, more dragons when DreamWorks Animation releases Dragons: Dawn of the Dragon Racers, an all-new animated adventure featuring the original voice cast. A hunt for lost sheep soon turns into a high-flying sprint in the all-new epic adventure as Hiccup and friends battle to become the first Dragon Racing Champion of Berk!


Parental Guide:

The rating is for adventure, action and some mild rude humor.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**



Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA



Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:



How to train your Dragon 2 comes to Blu-ray Disc from DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps and lossless 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.7 Mbps.

This is a beautifully crafted digital film that looks amazing in high definition. From start to finish this presentation is nothing short of mesmerizing in its depiction of the film’s animated images. The video is exquisitely detailed, incredibly three dimensional and never left me wanting for fine degrees of subtle delineation and texture. The attention to detail in the construction of the animated characters physical features as well as objects within each frame is superb. Stoick is my go to for detail as the design of his beard, clothing, and physical make up draws out tons of nuance (in the scene in the cave with Valka when he removes his helmet check out the fine hairs on the nape of his neck). The same is true of riding suite and harness worn by Hiccup and Toothless, amazing. Other examples can be seen in the textural nuance in the physical characteristics in the wooden surfaces of the ships and interiors of the village dwellings.

The chromatic palette is fairly broad with colors that appear vivid and bold with an enriching level of saturation that exhibits subtle degrees of separation and eye pleasing depth. Contrast is exemplary and blacks are inky with extended dynamic range and deep gradational highlights. The sequence in chapter 12 where Hiccup and Toothless follow Valka though the cavern to the dragon sanctuary looks incredible as the varying gradations, cascading light and shifting shadows pop against a multi-staged/dark background. Those with high contrast displays can fully appreciate how superlative this sequence looks.

The film’s remaining low level sequences look just as stunning as the dark and shadow filled backgrounds exhibit a near infinite level of dimension, with superb contrast and visible shading that draws out lots of detail. As good as the first film looks in high definition I have to say that this looks even better. I tip my hat to DreamWorks who continues to prove that Pixar isn’t the only pristine animation game in town.


The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio soundtrack is an engaging mix that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is excellent as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated so that sound effects seem to traverse the room. Surround activity is abundant as discretely placed directional and spatial information mixed to the rear channels weaves an enveloping pattern of sound. Dynamics are energetic and forceful which lends weight to the plethora of impact felt moments during the movie.

I wouldn’t describe this as an aggressive LFE mix but it makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its dynamic range. Fans of plaster cracking bass will probably be disappointed as there is little low frequency content in this mix that descends to the those depths. This does coincide with my experience of the track when I saw it in the theater. This should not be taken to mean that the surround mix is unbalanced or lacking in response however it doesn’t hit as low or as hard as the soundtrack on How to train your dragon. Dialogue is rendered with aplomb and sounds terrific throughout. John Powell’s rousing music is an essential component to this soundtrack as it helps to intensify the action with its energetic instrumentation and high level detail that maintains a prominent and engaging aural presence. While some may find the lack of ultralow frequency content disappointing there is no question that this is an entertaining audio presentation where the surround mix is clearly the star of the show.

I found this to be a faithful overall presentation where the video may have minimally outshone the audio but nevertheless combined for a fun home theater experience that complimented the source material.


Bonus Features:
  • (HD) Fishleg’s Dragon Stats – How much do you know about your favorite dragons? Explore the Dragon 2 Guide and learn more about your favorite fire-breathing friends!
  • (HD) Drago’s War Machines – Gobber the Belch narrates this inside look at the fierce creatures and “high-tech” weapons used by Drago to expand his growing dragon army.
  • (HD) Berk’s Dragon World – Explore the massive stable created to house the dragons of Berk, along with other changes made on the island to promote harmonious living.
  • (HD) Hiccup’s Inventions in Flight – Learn the secrets of how Hiccup and Toothless work together to form the ultimate high-flying team in this fascinating interactive tour.
  • (HD) 4 Deleted Scenes with writer/director introduction -- The awesome adventure continues with telling deleted and extended scenes.
  • Commentary by Simon Otto, Bonnie Arnold, Dean DeBlois, and Pierre-Olivier Vincent
  • (HD) Where No One Goes: The Making of How To Train Your Dragon 2 – Writer-Director Dean DeBlois and his team take you behind the scenes of creating the film’s eye-popping visual effects and epic story – 54 minutes
  • (HD) Dawn of the Dragon Racers: All new animated short – 26 minutes
  • (HD) Image Gallery
  • (HD) Theatrical Trailer
  • (HD) World of DreamWorks Animation (6 segments) – Move to the music videos from your favorite DreamWorks Animation feature films
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital HD Copy





Final Thoughts:

Like its predecessor How to train your Dragon 2 is high flying family entertainment that warms the heart and tickles the funny bone thanks to a strong script, excellent casting and apt direction from writer/director Dean DeBlois. DreamWorks doesn’t miss a beat with its stellar video presentation and rousing DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that shines in high definition on Blu-ray Disc. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment includes a host of bonus material which includes Blu-ray Disc exclusive features, filmmaker commentary, a behind the scenes documentary, and the animated short film “Dawn of the Dragon Racers”. I thoroughly enjoyed How to train your Dragon 2 and highly recommend it for inclusion in your Blu-ray library.





Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



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Last edited by Ralph Potts; 11-12-2014 at 01:54 PM.
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post #2 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 07:22 AM
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Thanks Ralph. For those interested, this will be a Black Friday special at Best Buy for $9.99
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post #3 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 08:01 AM
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Watched this again tonight Ralph, enjoyed it and agree with your review. I knew you would give the video 100. The PQ is superb. The audio I have to agree would of been nice to have stronger LFE when they showed the Alphas. There presence alone says it all.
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post #4 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 08:19 AM
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Looking forward to watching it in 3D this week. We have no children in the house anymore but nonetheless really enjoyed the first one (among my favorite animated movies), I'd echo Ralph's sentiment that it appeals to a broad audience. I like the animation style presented here, and come'on the dragons are so cute! LOL
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post #5 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 08:24 AM
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Thanks for another great review Ralph..
I am probably the only one who thought the original was much better than this one.
Spoiler!
I'll probably rent it still and give it a go.

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Last edited by Ralph Potts; 11-11-2014 at 08:45 AM. Reason: Added spoiler tags
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post #6 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franin View Post
Watched this again tonight Ralph, enjoyed it and agree with your review. I knew you would give the video 100. The PQ is superb. The audio I have to agree would of been nice to have stronger LFE when they showed the Alphas. There presence alone says it all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Done Deal DR View Post
Looking forward to watching it in 3D this week. We have no children in the house anymore but nonetheless really enjoyed the first one (among my favorite animated movies), I'd echo Ralph's sentiment that it appeals to a broad audience. I like the animation style presented here, and come'on the dragons are so cute! LOL
Greetings,

Thanks for posting your thoughts guys and of course I agree.


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post #7 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Daman S View Post
Thanks for another great review Ralph..
I am probably the only one who thought the original was much better than this one.
Spoiler!
I'll probably rent it still and give it a go.
Greetings,

I can see where you might feel that way Daman. A second viewing might leave you feeling differently..


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post #8 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 08:50 AM
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I gotta check this flick out, I love animation and sometimes forget how nice it is to get lost in a child-friendly storyline. A video score of 100 seals the deal.
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post #9 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I gotta check this flick out, I love animation and sometimes forget how nice it is to get lost in a child-friendly storyline. A video score of 100 seals the deal.
Greetings,

I would say that you're in for a treat Mark..


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post #10 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 09:22 AM
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Ralph,

Thanks for the review!

I really enjoyed the first one and have been looking forward to this second one. Love that the picture gets 100, but will admit I'm saddened that the audio with lower extension has not been repeated. Even so based on your review I'm sure it will be an enjoyable experience.

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post #11 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 10:45 AM
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I was holding out hope that it was just the theater I saw this in but I guess there is indeed a lack of dynamics and LFE extension in the mix. Shame. Though I do actually feel (sort of) the same with the original. The original does not lack for extension by any means at all but it seems to lack punch in the 25-35hz range.
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post #12 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 11:19 AM
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What a HUGE disappointment for bass heads! The original is one of the best LFE experiences on blu and this is how they follow it up? Thanks Ralph, this went from a blind buy to rent.
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post #13 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 12:58 PM
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Would any parents say this one is significantly scarier than the original, for young kids?

-Suntan
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post #14 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 01:09 PM
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What a HUGE disappointment for bass heads! The original is one of the best LFE experiences on blu and this is how they follow it up? Thanks Ralph, this went from a blind buy to rent.


I was also surprised spot checking Dragon 2 that the fun room shuttering OOMPH wasn't there. (And my sub isn't really that beefy compared to most around here.)

It's a repeat of Kung-Fu Panda. Great low-end on the original, and weaker on the sequel. Don't get me wrong though, it still sounds good. ^_^
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post #15 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post
Would any parents say this one is significantly scarier than the original, for young kids?

-Suntan
Nope. About the same level of peril. Frankly, it feels less intense in a high end home theater than the orginal due to the soundtrack mix. I watched HTTYD2 with my daughter (just turned 7) and she wasn't bothered at all. We watched Secret of Nihm the day after, and she thought that was a lot more scary. ^_^
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post #16 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post
Greetings,

I can see where you might feel that way Daman. A second viewing might leave you feeling differently..


Regards,
I'll report back after the second viewing Ralph! Thanks for your inputs
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post #17 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 05:27 PM
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As a parent who has watched the original many times and will probably repeat that with this one, I'm awfully disappointed that the lfe is missing here. I like these movies...and LOVE listening to the first one. Won't feel that way now...
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post #18 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 06:08 PM
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Sorry Ralph, but I don't think I need to read this excellent review to know I will be buying this one right away! (I read it anyway... )


I got into How to Train Your Dragon very late because I thought it would be too childish... BOY was I wrong. I kept reading posts with references to it and how great everyone said it was so I finally bought a copy about a year after it was released. He-he, I must have watched it 10 times in the first couple of weeks I had it.


I am a little disappointed to hear the LFE isn't up to par with the first one but I'm sure that won't seriously hinder my enjoyment of the film. I think I'll pull out the first one and make it a double feature!
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post #19 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 06:24 PM
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the LFE was INCREDIBLY disappointing in this one... nothing over 101 decibels in the entire track and the low end extension never dropped below 26 hz
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post #20 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rboster View Post
Thanks Ralph. For those interested, this will be a Black Friday special at Best Buy for $9.99
blu-ray of course, is that in print already? I wonder if my amazon pre-order then can be price-matched....
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post #21 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post
blu-ray of course, is that in print already? I wonder if my amazon pre-order then can be price-matched....
Best buy has their Black Friday preview ad on line now. As a standard practice most sites don't price match Black Friday ads for items already purchased ...that being said amazon will usually reflect the same prices on their site during the Black Friday weekend
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post #22 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 07:28 PM
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Just watched and had to get up twice to check my system. Very weak low end. Movie was good tho. This could have been a great show case for good subs.
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post #23 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 07:56 PM
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Anybody try the 3D version yet?

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As an AVSer with dual LLT subs, I'll echo the sentiment that the reported lack of LFE is a huge disappointment.

Why does this always seem to happen, though? Kung Fu Panda had "Skadoosh". Kung Fu Panda 2 had nothing memorable in the Bass department. It's as if the studio thinks that because the movie is popular, they have to castrate the bass on the sequel.

I'll still buy the movie, but I'll do it with a bad taste in my mouth.
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Anybody try the 3D version yet?
Not yet, but real soon.

* And I will re-purchase it again when re-released with an Auro-3D audio soundtrack.
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Yup, I just watched the 3d version. Same story in the bass department. I knew it was gonna be weak, but holy cow! That was BAD! What is going on with bass these days??? We all keep getting better and better subs and systems and the studios (or mixers--as this one was also very weak at the theater) keep neutering the soundtracks! And it wasn't just the bass with this one--this movie felt like I was watching it in night-time mode with dynamic range control maxed out. There weren't dramatic swells to the music!

Seems like it was the director's fault.... he addresses the "issue" with the first film in the beginning of this video:

http://soundworkscollection.com/vide...-your-dragon-2
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post #27 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 10:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by rboster View Post
Thanks Ralph. For those interested, this will be a Black Friday special at Best Buy for $9.99
Is that also for the 3D edition?
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post #28 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 10:41 PM
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Sorry Ralph, but I don't think I need to read this excellent review to know I will be buying this one right away! (I read it anyway... )


I got into How to Train Your Dragon very late because I thought it would be too childish... BOY was I wrong. I kept reading posts with references to it and how great everyone said it was so I finally bought a copy about a year after it was released. He-he, I must have watched it 10 times in the first couple of weeks I had it.


I am a little disappointed to hear the LFE isn't up to par with the first one but I'm sure that won't seriously hinder my enjoyment of the film. I think I'll pull out the first one and make it a double feature!

The movie itself wasn't bad I still enjoyed it for what it was, but the lack of LFE felt like I was watching it on a HTIB.

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post #29 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 11:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by javanpohl View Post
Yup, I just watched the 3d version. Same story in the bass department. I knew it was gonna be weak, but holy cow! That was BAD! What is going on with bass these days??? We all keep getting better and better subs and systems and the studios (or mixers--as this one was also very weak at the theater) keep neutering the soundtracks! And it wasn't just the bass with this one--this movie felt like I was watching it in night-time mode with dynamic range control maxed out. There weren't dramatic swells to the music!

Seems like it was the director's fault.... he addresses the "issue" with the first film in the beginning of this video:

http://soundworkscollection.com/vide...-your-dragon-2
These two guys weren't after low frequency effects, obviously.
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post #30 of 96 Old 11-11-2014, 11:45 PM
 
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Arrow $9.99 deal

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Originally Posted by cinema13 View Post
Is that also for the 3D edition?
No way!
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