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post #1 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos Sound

Unless you have no access to modern media—in which case, you wouldn't be reading this—you know what a juggernaut the new Star Wars movie is. It shattered all sorts of box-office records in its opening weekend with over $500 million in ticket sales worldwide, half of which was in North America. Plus, there are more merchandising tie-ins than I've ever seen before, ensuring that Disney will make back its investment in the franchise and much more in relatively short order.



When I learned that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be graded in Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) and shown in that format at Dolby Cinema venues, I bought a ticket for the earliest showing at the AMC Burbank 16 for which one of my favorite seats was available. When the appointed hour approached, I settled into the cushy leather recliner for what I hoped would be an exceptional cinematic experience.

Exceptional it was—in presentation. The HDR images were breathtaking. The black of space was true black, and the many dimly lit interior shots were extraordinary, with plenty of detail in the darkness. I especially liked one of the early shots of stormtroopers in a landing craft, which was pitch black except for flashes of light momentarily illuminating their helmeted heads. There might have been a bit of black crush in low-light shots of the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), whose black hair and clothes were occasionally obscured against a very dark background.

The added brightness of Dolby Vision was also used to good effect—for example, explosions were brilliant. And areas of high brightness coexisted nicely with areas of low light in the same shot, a hallmark of HDR imagery. All of this resulted in a picture that really popped with outstanding dimensionality, even though it was 2D. (There are a few shots that were undoubtedly designed for 3D, which is used in Imax and other SDR venues, but I didn't miss it at all.)

One thing I didn't like about the visuals was the 24-frames-per-second motion blur and judder, which was painfully obvious during pans across a starfield and in other shots with lots of motion. Maybe I'm more sensitive to it than usual because of my recent conversation with Douglas Trumbull about high frame rates, but it really bugged me during The Force Awakens.

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack was spectacular, with lots of activity throughout the 3D soundfield—spaceships whizzing around, laser fire, explosions, even the music filled the entire auditorium. Interestingly, Kylo Ren's voice was much less intelligible when he removed his mask; when he was wearing it (which was, inexplicably, most of the time), his voice sounded like it was coming from a transistor radio, and his words were much easier to understand than when he took it off. Otherwise, dialog intelligibility was generally good, even Harrison Ford's gravelly voice as he played the aging Han Solo.

As expected, the volume levels were pretty high—Leq (average RMS level over entire movie plus trailers) = 96.3 dBZ (flat), 84 dBA, 94.5 dBC; Lmax (maximum 1-second RMS level) = 120.1 dBZ; L10 (level exceeded 10% of the time) = 98.6 dBZ; L50 (level exceeded 50% of the time) = 84.4 dBZ. I had my fingers in my ears several times, but I decided not to wear my earplugs so I could evaluate the Atmos soundtrack fully.

As for the movie itself, my opinion will be at distinct odds with many—if not most—viewers. I'm definitely a fan of the Star Wars franchise, and I had high hopes for this episode based on some early reviews. But I can describe my impression of the movie in one word: BORING! There are a few funny moments, but I found nothing whatsoever that deepened the mythology or moved the story forward in any meaningful way. The movie felt very shallow to me—I kept thinking, "This is Star Wars masturbation!" It's nothing more than a rehash of Episode IV: A New Hope with no real emotional depth.

Avid fans will love it because it's familiar—and maybe that's the problem. Most big-budget movies these days are essentially similar to their predecessors because that's the safe route for studios to take. Why risk hundreds of millions of dollars on something creative and original when you're virtually guaranteed a big return on investment if you simply make the same movie over and over again with better effects and bigger explosions than the one before? That's what Star Wars: The Force Awakens felt like to me—a safe bet based solely on the loyalty of the fan base. It's a bet that seems to have paid off in terms of revenue, but in my view, certainly not in terms of storytelling.

On the other hand, it's a prime example of HDR imagery and Atmos immersive sound, and I recommend seeing it in a Dolby Cinema for that reason alone; for a complete list of current and upcoming locations, click here. (There are now 12 Dolby Cinemas up and running in the US and two in the Netherlands.) For some reason, the AMC Village on the Parkway 9 in Addison, TX (near Dallas) is not showing The Force Awakens in its Dolby Cinema auditorium, but as far as I know, all the other locations—as well as the El Capitan in Hollywood, CA, which is not an official Dolby Cinema—are showing it in Dolby Vision and Atmos sound. It's worth the trek to see and hear the state of the art in commercial cinema, but don't expect a meaningful movie.
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post #2 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 02:53 PM
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I took my oldest soon (4 yrs old) to the local cinema, and we both loved it. It was in Dolby Atmos, and the sound was just as good as the movie. Favorite characters - Rey and Kylo Ren!
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post #3 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
All of this resulted in a picture that really popped with outstanding dimensionality, even though it was 2D. (There are a few shots that were undoubtedly designed for 3D, which is used in Imax and other SDR venues, but I didn't miss it at all.)
Agreed!

Can't agree with you on the film though. Although I understand and even agree with a lot of the criticisms, there was so much about it I liked that I had a hell of a time!
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post #4 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Agreed!

Can't agree with you on the film though. Although I understand and even agree with a lot of the criticisms, there was so much about it I liked that I had a hell of a time!
That's the nature of subjective impressions; I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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post #5 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
...But I can describe my impression of the movie in one word: BORING! There are a few funny moments, but I found nothing whatsoever that deepened the mythology or moved the story forward in any meaningful way. The movie felt very shallow to me—I kept thinking, "This is Star Wars masturbation!" It's nothing more than a rehash of Episode IV: A New Hope with no real emotional depth.

Avid fans will love it because it's familiar—and maybe that's the problem. Most big-budget movies these days are essentially similar to their predecessors because that's the safe route for studios to take. Why risk hundreds of millions of dollars on something creative and original when you're virtually guaranteed a big return on investment if you simply make the same movie over and over again with better effects and bigger explosions than the one before? That's what Star Wars: The Force Awakens felt like to me—a safe bet based solely on the loyalty of the fan base. It's a bet that seems to have paid off in terms of revenue, but in my view, certainly not in terms of storytelling.

...but don't expect a meaningful movie.

So sad, and so very true. More or less a reboot of the original Star Wars movie.

And another Death Star gets blown up yet again? As if the previous two others that were blown up in the first 3 Star Wars movies made wasn't enough?

That said, IMO at least the movie is in the same class as the first 3 Star Wars movies made and at least we get to see the Millennium Falcon fly again.


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post #6 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 05:44 PM
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Love seeing spoilers here (not).

Scott thanks for the heads up on the film experience. As for people posting plot or spoilers....a happy holiday to you anyway.
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post #7 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by nx211 View Post
So sad, and so very true. More or less a reboot of the original Star Wars movie.

And another Death Star gets blown up yet again? As if the previous two others that were blown up in the first 3 Star Wars movies made wasn't enough?

That said, IMO at least the movie is in the same class as the first 3 Star Wars movies made and at least we get to see the Millennium Falcon fly again.


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My whole synopsis has spoilers.

Spoiler!
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post #8 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 07:19 PM
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The movie was fantastic!

I really was not expecting Kylo Ren to be killed by C3PO's deadly red arm. What an unexpected ending!
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post #9 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 07:31 PM
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The movie was fantastic!

I really was not expecting Kylo Ren to be killed by C3PO's deadly red arm. What an unexpected ending!
Its sad that they blew up R2-D2, and killed princess Leia so early in the movie. Other than that, it was a good movie. C3PO's deadly red arm was unexpected too...poor Kylo Ren.

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post #11 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 08:20 PM
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Going to see this tomorrow (Christmas) in 2D at the Regal Kingstown in Alexandria, Va. It's an Atmos theater but I don't know if it's a "Dolby Cinema"/ Dolby Vision/ HDR theater. Sorry for any redundancies but I'm a little unclear on the terminology. Visiting relatives and don't know the theater. They don't advertise anything but Atmos.

In any event, I'm pretty stoked to finally experience Atmos since my town, Charlotte, has none and probably won't for the foreseeable future. I've just finished my home theater but won't be adding Atmos tech for several years, if ever. Didn't wire the ceiling for any speakers and don't plan on spending another boatload of money upgrading the AVR (Marantz SR6007) any time soon.

So this may be the only Atmos experience I'll ever have. It better be good!
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post #12 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

As for the movie itself, my opinion will be at distinct odds with many—if not most—viewers. I'm definitely a fan of the Star Wars franchise, and I had high hopes for this episode based on some early reviews. But I can describe my impression of the movie in one word: BORING! There are a few funny moments, but I found nothing whatsoever that deepened the mythology or moved the story forward in any meaningful way. The movie felt very shallow to me—I kept thinking, "This is Star Wars masturbation!" It's nothing more than a rehash of Episode IV: A New Hope with no real emotional depth.

Avid fans will love it because it's familiar—and maybe that's the problem. Most big-budget movies these days are essentially similar to their predecessors because that's the safe route for studios to take. Why risk hundreds of millions of dollars on something creative and original when you're virtually guaranteed a big return on investment if you simply make the same movie over and over again with better effects and bigger explosions than the one before? That's what Star Wars: The Force Awakens felt like to me—a safe bet based solely on the loyalty of the fan base. It's a bet that seems to have paid off in terms of revenue, but in my view, certainly not in terms of storytelling.

On the other hand, it's a prime example of HDR imagery and Atmos immersive sound, and I recommend seeing it in a Dolby Cinema for that reason alone; for a complete list of current and upcoming locations, click here. (There are now 12 Dolby Cinemas up and running in the US and two in the Netherlands.) For some reason, the AMC Village on the Parkway 9 in Addison, TX (near Dallas) is not showing The Force Awakens in its Dolby Cinema auditorium, but as far as I know, all the other locations—as well as the El Capitan in Hollywood, CA, which is not an official Dolby Cinema—are showing it in Dolby Vision and Atmos sound. It's worth the trek to see and hear the state of the art in commercial cinema, but don't expect a meaningful movie.
It was still better than the prequels and I think they had to play it a little safe. It also helped re-boot the saga and re-start a new generation of younger people and kids not as familiar with the original trilogy. I think it will set the stage well for the next film which I think will be more creative. All in all, I still enjoyed it as a huge Star Wars fan.

As far as the audio levels, I suggest people be careful. I made the mistake of now wearing ear plugs on my first viewing (I saw it twice) and I have Tinnitus which worsened after seeing the movie. (Tinnitus isn't fun - trust me. Watch your volume levels!) I didn't see it in any special theater, but the volume levels were extremely high as I had to plug my ears at times. There was also some surround speaker distortion/crackling after explosions which didn't help in my first viewing. In my own home theater, I don't allow audio peaks or high points to exceed roughly 85-90 db.
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post #13 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by archiguy View Post
Going to see this tomorrow (Christmas) in 2D at the Regal Kingstown in Alexandria, Va. It's an Atmos theater but I don't know if it's a "Dolby Cinema"/ Dolby Vision/ HDR theater. Sorry for any redundancies but I'm a little unclear on the terminology. Visiting relatives and don't know the theater. They don't advertise anything but Atmos.

In any event, I'm pretty stoked to finally experience Atmos since my town, Charlotte, has none and probably won't for the foreseeable future. I've just finished my home theater but won't be adding Atmos tech for several years, if ever. Didn't wire the ceiling for any speakers and don't plan on spending another boatload of money upgrading the AVR (Marantz SR6007) any time soon.

So this may be the only Atmos experience I'll ever have. It better be good!
Let me see if I can help you understand all these terms. Dolby Atmos is an immersive audio/sound format with speakers on the ceiling as well as around the room, Dolby Vision is a high dynamic-range (HDR) "video" format that uses dual laser-illuminated projectors, and Dolby Cinema refers to an auditorium that has both features as well as stadium seating, recliners, and a special video-wall entrance (though a few Dolby Cinemas do not have the video-wall entrance yet). Many theaters have Dolby Atmos, but only Dolby Cinemas have Dolby Vision HDR. (The El Capitan in Hollywood, CA, isn't technically a Dolby Cinema, but it has Dolby Vision and Atmos.)

Currently, there are only 12 Dolby Cinema auditoriums in the US, and they are all in AMC multiplexes, so the Regal theater you're going to is not a Dolby Cinema, and it doesn't have Dolby Vision HDR. However, it apparently does have Dolby Atmos, so you'll hear what that can do. I recommend you sit as close to the center line of the theater as possible to hear Atmos at its best. Enjoy!
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post #14 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 10:19 PM
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For some reason, the AMC Village on the Parkway 9 in Addison, TX (near Dallas) is not showing The Force Awakens in its Dolby Cinema auditorium
There is another theater about a mile from Village on the Parkway 9 that is showing it(http://www.lookcinemas.com/en/dallas/look/). Both theaters are not allowed to show the same movies.

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post #15 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 10:25 PM
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"As for the movie itself, my opinion will be at distinct odds with many—if not most—viewers. I'm definitely a fan of the Star Wars franchise, and I had high hopes for this episode based on some early reviews. But I can describe my impression of the movie in one word: BORING! There are a few funny moments, but I found nothing whatsoever that deepened the mythology or moved the story forward in any meaningful way. The movie felt very shallow to me—I kept thinking, "This is Star Wars masturbation!" It's nothing more than a rehash of Episode IV: A New Hope with no real emotional depth"

Scott, I agree with you, wholeheartedly: BORING!
Boring., too much humor, no emotional reaction to the wannabe Darth.
I kept hearing Han's voice; "I gotta a bad feeling about this!"
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not episode VII.............................................. It's a fan edit of episode IV
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post #16 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

There are a few funny moments, but I found nothing whatsoever that deepened the mythology or moved the story forward in any meaningful way. The movie felt very shallow to me—I kept thinking, "This is Star Wars masturbation!" It's nothing more than a rehash of Episode IV: A New Hope with no real emotional depth.
These are the words I was trying to come up with to describe how I felt after seeing the movie...what's the address to the disenfranchised Star Wars support group?!
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post #17 of 182 Old 12-24-2015, 11:07 PM
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I didn't see it in any special theater, but the volume levels were extremely high as I had to plug my ears at times. There was also some surround speaker distortion/crackling after explosions which didn't help in my first viewing.
That wasn't speaker distortion, that was your ear drums.
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post #18 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 12:49 AM
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Wow Scott, thanks for having the courage to express your true feelings on the film. I have felt much, if not exactly the same, yet people seem to attack you if you don't like it. I'm astonished by its critically praised reception. This film, to me, lacked everything a Star Wars picture should have in spades, not least of which is a couple action set pieces. JJ seems to have taken all the criticism he received on Star Trek and applied it to Star Wars. It felt like he couldn't wait to finish with the spectacle (or JJ's lame attempt at spectacle, anyway) and get back to stale scenes of dialogue (which of course the young audience found humour in but neither developed the characters or plot).

This film abandons all logic for cheap entertainment. In the midst of a gun fight, Han asks Chewie to use his blaster. We get a funny line from Han about the situation and the audience laughs. I was in awe. Why is Han taking Chewie's only weapon in a gun fight? Chewie was literally standing there after with laser blasts whizzing by. It breaks all the tension in the situation as well as the characters, but as long as we get yet another punchline the modern audience is satiated.

I felt this film was a complete and utter failure. And I'm a fan of all the previous films. It seems humour trumps all other aspects of movie making with today's audience.
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post #19 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 07:44 AM
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For me, the film was a disappointment. It was nothing more than a reprise of the first film. Totally predictable. Seems to me that the movie critics are getting as bad as the high end audio reviewers!
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post #20 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 07:57 AM
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I am going to attempt to see it in a Dolby Vision theater in a couple weeks. I did see it at an ArcLight with the kids, but no 3D or Atmos...kids weren't interested.

For the movie itself, I enjoyed it alot. Yes, it was a rehash, but the casting/acting/action was all terrific. It might not be New Hope/Empire but it's heaps better than the utterly disappointing prequels and even ROTJ. In my opinion of course.

Overall, I'm exciting to go see this one again with the older crew, I had the opposite feeling coming out of all the prequels....so for me, that's a start!
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post #21 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 08:15 AM
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For the first time in two years I went to a 9:40 am showing on the 22nd at a Regale lieMax theater here in New England. The closest Dolby Vision theater is in Manhattan but after living near and working there for four years I have no interest in ever venturing into that city again, their isn't even an Atmos theater within 100 miles of me to the best of my knowledge. I was surprised the theater was virtually sold out for a matinee on a school day, luckily I purchased advance tickets and had great comfortable seats G row center. I was very pleased with the warning at the beginning of the show about no cell phone texting or use during the feature threatening with eviction and sure enough I didn't see a single cell phone light during the show. I saw almost no flaws in the projector setup, 3D was excellent and bright enough by my standards. Being a star wars fan (I saw the premier showing of the original in the 70's) I was thoroughly entertained , there were some slow spots but not boring by any means. For me and my wife being $36 poorer with two advance tickets to a discounted matinee and 1 drink and popcorn we shared I will continue to buy/rent Blu Ray for use in my more than adequate home theater but at least maybe theaters are heading back in the right direction.
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post #22 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 08:36 AM
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My son and I thought we were watching the New Hope all over again.
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Quote:
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One thing I didn't like about the visuals was the 24-frames-per-second motion blur and judder, which was painfully obvious during pans across a starfield and in other shots with lots of motion. Maybe I'm more sensitive to it than usual because of my recent conversation with Douglas Trumbull about high frame rates, but it really bugged me during The Force Awakens.
Ya, I loved the movie (in every way) but every time I see a movie in the theaters without FI my eyes bleed. This movie is going to look incredible at 60hz once I get it on UHD Bluray and play it back on my home system. I saw it on IMAX 3D and there were a couple scenes where the 3D really popped out of the screen, once with the huge star destroyer at the beginning, that was awesome.

I also don't get the reluctance to call this series sci-fi. Sure the Force is mystical and religious, but many great sci-fi has that mixed in to great effect (Dune, for one). I find the worn down, dirty, messy universe far more plausible and believable than Star Trek's sanitized / utopian / PC vision of the future of the human race. I mean, of course spaceships have work properly, you can't go into space with any leaks in it whatsoever, and your life literally depends on it working basically perfectly. But having the Falcon break down here and there, makes it relatable and "real" because a lot of home-built or even expensive hot rods need tons of maintenance and often spend more time in the shop than on the road.

I can't wait to see this in Dolby Vision HDR. The blacks at the IMAX were decent, I paid close attention, and it was certainly bright (even in 3D), but I definitely realize more and more what Trumbull was saying about the double or triple flashed 3D making the 3D effect totally whack compared to what it could be single flashed at 120hz.

The current Pro version of SVP 4 actually looked terrific on ANH and TESB when I re-watched them recently with high bitrate rips of my Blurays, so I'm not too down on the lack of HFR given the fact that artifact removal and blur removal algorithms are improving every year so there's a good chance I can have my cake and eat it too. I'm not 100% sure, but I think extrapolated / processed HDR with native HFR would look worse than native HDR and extrapolated HFR. Of course that's just a wild guess since I haven't seen SDR-to-HDR automatic filters yet.

Possible Spoilers for those who have not seen the movie:

One thing's for sure, Poe is definitely the best starfighter in the galaxy. After watching that I thought to myself, this is what people must have thought back in WWI when they saw the Red Baron do his thing. And I saw the "big event" coming a mile away with Han, but I was still kind of crushed seeing it finally happen.

Another thing, Captain Phasma looked cool but if she's meant to be a sign of a strong female character I have to say that feel flat on its face. Is she dead? I guess we'll see. Rey was great though, she's basically Han Solo and Luke Skywalker combined. Well, without Luke's XWing piloting skills which Poe took over. I'm almost glad that the best pilot in the galaxy didn't get to be that way through the Force. I liked the camaraderie and friendship between him and Fin, who was definitely a scaredy-cat Stormtrooper and that was inappropriate for someone who was supposedly trained to be a soldier his whole life. I did like that the other Storm troopers seemed actually decent...sometimes. The lightsaber duel was actually really good. And it shows when Fin tried to duel with Ren that just being a swordsman isn't enough to fight a Force-capable foe, who has a lot more tricks up his sleeve than just convenient use of his crossguard as a weapon (as historical swordsmen often would, including the pommel as well).

BB8 stole the show several times though. It seems like a much better design for a droid in terms of mobility for traversing dunes and even climbing or descending stairs. Then again, R2 could fly
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post #24 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 08:57 AM
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Love seeing spoilers here (not).

Scott thanks for the heads up on the film experience. As for people posting plot or spoilers....a happy holiday to you anyway.
So you are reading on a forum about the new star wars movie and you are not happy there are spoilers? Lol...... That's like going to a sports bar on Sunday and not being pleased with all the football games being played.
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post #25 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 09:03 AM
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This comment from Scott really hit the nail on the head watching Star Wars in HDR.
"All of this resulted in a picture that really popped with outstanding dimensionality, even though it was 2D."

Also there was a scene at the beginning inside a tie fighter. The Stormtrooper's glossy black armor was reflecting the
color lights from the instrumentation panel. I just remembering thinking to myself: WOW the colors look incredible.

Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Im really surprised by some of the negativity here. I just watched Return of the Jedi recently and
that movie gets pretty goofy at times.

I'll be really tempted to upgrade my home theater if Disney releases a Dolby Vision/Atmos Ultra HD Blu-Ray.
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post #26 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 09:14 AM
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So you are reading on a forum about the new star wars movie and you are not happy there are spoilers? Lol...... That's like going to a sports bar on Sunday and not being pleased with all the football games being played.
Poor analogy if one at all. Given the mentality I appreciate your ability to make it clear that some consider spoilers acceptable. I'll just skip Scott's future threads on movies in theaters since it attracts people like yourself.

All said and done - hope everyone is having a happy Christmas and a safe one.
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post #27 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 09:18 AM
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Unless you have no access to modern media—in which case, you wouldn't be reading this—you know what a juggernaut the new Star Wars movie is. It shattered all sorts of box-office records in its opening weekend with over $500 million in ticket sales worldwide, half of which was in North America. Plus, there are more merchandising tie-ins than I've ever seen before, ensuring that Disney will make back its investment in the franchise and much more in relatively short order.



When I learned that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be graded in Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) and shown in that format at Dolby Cinema venues, I bought a ticket for the earliest showing at the AMC Burbank 16 for which one of my favorite seats was available. When the appointed hour approached, I settled into the cushy leather recliner for what I hoped would be an exceptional cinematic experience.

Exceptional it was—in presentation. The HDR images were breathtaking. The black of space was true black, and the many dimly lit interior shots were extraordinary, with plenty of detail in the darkness. I especially liked one of the early shots of stormtroopers in a landing craft, which was pitch black except for flashes of light momentarily illuminating their helmeted heads. There might have been a bit of black crush in low-light shots of the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), whose black hair and clothes were occasionally obscured against a very dark background.

The added brightness of Dolby Vision was also used to good effect—for example, explosions were brilliant. And areas of high brightness coexisted nicely with areas of low light in the same shot, a hallmark of HDR imagery. All of this resulted in a picture that really popped with outstanding dimensionality, even though it was 2D. (There are a few shots that were undoubtedly designed for 3D, which is used in Imax and other SDR venues, but I didn't miss it at all.)

One thing I didn't like about the visuals was the 24-frames-per-second motion blur and judder, which was painfully obvious during pans across a starfield and in other shots with lots of motion. Maybe I'm more sensitive to it than usual because of my recent conversation with Douglas Trumbull about high frame rates, but it really bugged me during The Force Awakens.

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack was spectacular, with lots of activity throughout the 3D soundfield—spaceships whizzing around, laser fire, explosions, even the music filled the entire auditorium. Interestingly, Kylo Ren's voice was much less intelligible when he removed his mask; when he was wearing it (which was, inexplicably, most of the time), his voice sounded like it was coming from a transistor radio, and his words were much easier to understand than when he took it off. Otherwise, dialog intelligibility was generally good, even Harrison Ford's gravelly voice as he played the aging Han Solo.

As expected, the volume levels were pretty high—Leq (average RMS level over entire movie plus trailers) = 96.3 dBZ (flat), 84 dBA, 94.5 dBC; Lmax (maximum 1-second RMS level) = 120.1 dBZ; L10 (level exceeded 10% of the time) = 98.6 dBZ; L50 (level exceeded 50% of the time) = 84.4 dBZ. I had my fingers in my ears several times, but I decided not to wear my earplugs so I could evaluate the Atmos soundtrack fully.

As for the movie itself, my opinion will be at distinct odds with many—if not most—viewers. I'm definitely a fan of the Star Wars franchise, and I had high hopes for this episode based on some early reviews. But I can describe my impression of the movie in one word: BORING! There are a few funny moments, but I found nothing whatsoever that deepened the mythology or moved the story forward in any meaningful way. The movie felt very shallow to me—I kept thinking, "This is Star Wars masturbation!" It's nothing more than a rehash of Episode IV: A New Hope with no real emotional depth.

Avid fans will love it because it's familiar—and maybe that's the problem. Most big-budget movies these days are essentially similar to their predecessors because that's the safe route for studios to take. Why risk hundreds of millions of dollars on something creative and original when you're virtually guaranteed a big return on investment if you simply make the same movie over and over again with better effects and bigger explosions than the one before? That's what Star Wars: The Force Awakens felt like to me—a safe bet based solely on the loyalty of the fan base. It's a bet that seems to have paid off in terms of revenue, but in my view, certainly not in terms of storytelling.

On the other hand, it's a prime example of HDR imagery and Atmos immersive sound, and I recommend seeing it in a Dolby Cinema for that reason alone; for a complete list of current and upcoming locations, click here. (There are now 12 Dolby Cinemas up and running in the US and two in the Netherlands.) For some reason, the AMC Village on the Parkway 9 in Addison, TX (near Dallas) is not showing The Force Awakens in its Dolby Cinema auditorium, but as far as I know, all the other locations—as well as the El Capitan in Hollywood, CA, which is not an official Dolby Cinema—are showing it in Dolby Vision and Atmos sound. It's worth the trek to see and hear the state of the art in commercial cinema, but don't expect a meaningful movie.
The best way to see this is in IMAX LASER!
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post #28 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 09:43 AM
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I took my oldest soon (4 yrs old) to the local cinema, and we both loved it. It was in Dolby Atmos, and the sound was just as good as the movie.
Your cinema needs to fix its sound then.
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post #29 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 09:49 AM
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Agreed!

Can't agree with you on the film though. Although I understand and even agree with a lot of the criticisms, there was so much about it I liked that I had a hell of a time!
Where did the review say that people wouldn't enjoy the film? It even stated that the film is like masturbation: you WILL enjoy it, but it's no substitute for a real woman. If "having a hell of a time" is the standard for movies these days then Hollywood is more dead than I realized. I haven't seen a film in cinemas in ten years because it's all un-ambitious, repetitive "safe" trash. You think anyone is going to remember this installment like they remembered the first three?
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post #30 of 182 Old 12-25-2015, 10:23 AM
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Captain Phasma looked cool but if she's meant to be a sign of a strong female character I have to say that feel flat on its face.
She's this movie's Boba Fett (looks cool, does nothing).

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