Incredibles 2 in Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos Sound

incredibles 2

It’s been 14 years since The Incredibles hit the big screen. It’s one of Pixar’s best animated movies, and it ended with the perfect setup for a sequel—and some high expectations to meet. Now, Incredibles 2 is in theaters, including Dolby Cinemas with Dolby Vision high dynamic range and Atmos immersive sound.

Incredibles 2 begins exactly where its predecessor ends, as if no time had passed at all. After trying to stop The Underminer (voiced by John Ratzenberger), superheroes—or “supers”—are still deemed too dangerous by society, wreaking havoc and destruction as they fight crime. But billionaire entrepreneur Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-genius sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) believe that Supers do more good than harm and should be legalized again.

They approach Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), his wife Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and their friend Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to mount a PR campaign to turn world opinion toward legalization. While Elastigirl battles the evil Screenslaver (Bill Wise), Bob stays home to care for their teenage daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell), preteen son Dash (Huck Milner), and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile). Of course, super-suit designer Edna Mode (Brad Bird) plays an integral part, as do several new supers with clever names.

Incredibles 2 is great fun with a contemporary attitude; the commentary on gender roles and screen addiction are especially timely without being preachy. It’s also a classic superhero movie that outdoes most live-action members of the genre. And it’s hilarious throughout.

The visuals are stunning, with exquisite detail and riotous colors in a midcentury-modern aesthetic. The Dolby Vision HDR is very good, though not the best I’ve seen. Blacks are fairly deep without disappearing completely, and highlights are very bright. After the screening I saw, I ducked into a conventional showing, and it definitely looked more washed out with higher black levels.

Warning: There are a few moments of bright, strobed lights from TV screens that have reportedly caused headaches and nausea in photosensitive viewers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the problem is worse with Dolby Vision, since the peak brightness is twice as high as it is in a conventional presentation. Keep that in mind if you are sensitive to bright, flashing lights.

Unfortunately, the Dolby Cinema at the AMC Burbank 16 has newly installed, blue aisle lighting near the front that spills onto the bottom corners of the screen, degrading the HDR image in those areas. This was particularly evident in dark scenes, such as the full-screen blackout just before Elastigirl regains consciousness to face her real enemy. When I complained to the manager, she told me I wasn’t the first. Apparently, the theater is undergoing some sort of renovation, and those lights are only temporary. I certainly hope so!

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is excellent, with the overheads fully engaged in the many battle scenes. Also, Michael Giacchino’s superb score is mixed throughout the hemispherical soundfield. Dialog intelligibility was pretty good, but not great.

The levels seemed quite high to me, but the average conformed to reference level almost exactly: Leq (average RMS level over the entire length of the movie plus trailers) = 95.0 dBZ (flat), 85.1 dBA, 93.3 dBC; Lmax (maximum 1-second RMS level) = 120.9 dBZ; L10 (level exceeded 10% of the time) = 95.4 dBZ; L50 (level exceeded 50% of the time) = 81.9 dBZ. As I’ve said many times, reference level (85 dBA) is actually too high to be comfortable or even safe over the long term.

Incredibles 2 is the rarest of movies—a sequel that equals its progenitor. It’s fun, funny, exciting, and more than simply fluff. If you haven’t seen The Incredibles, you should definitely watch it before seeing Incredibles 2, since the new one follows directly from the original. I recommend seeing it in a Dolby Cinema; for a list of locations, click here. It’s not the best Dolby Vision I’ve seen, but it’s a far sight better than a conventional presentation. Either way, Incredibles 2 is certainly worth a trip to the big screen.

Check out the trailer: