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Ten Great Movies to Show Off Your Surround Sound!

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/25/2011

Get the most out of your home theater - use these ten great movies to enjoy your surround sound system to the fullest!

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    Show Off Your Surround Sound System!

    You’ve bought a great home theater system with an awesome widescreen display and topped it off with the best surround sound system available – but how to you prove it?

    After you have setup and configured your home theater surround sound system, there is only one way to show it off – buy some movies and invite your friends round.

    Choosing a movie can be tricky – almost every Hollywood action movie gives a massive degree of importance to the soundtrack in creating an immersive cinematic experience, but some of these can fail when scaled down to the home cinema level. Here are ten tried and tested modern action movie classics – all great movies for surround sound home theater setups.

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    Ten Great Movies for Surround Sound Home Theaters

    In no particular order, this list features great scenes from 10 great movies from the last 30 years that have soundtracks that are as amazing (on both DVD and Blu-ray) as they are at the cinema – in some cases, more so...

    The Incredibles

    As with many CGI movies, the surround sound is great all the way through. Probably the most impressive sequences are the battle between Mr Incredible and the various prototype robots controlled by the villain, as well as the climax battle in the city.

    Gladiator is one of the great movies for surround sound home theater that you shouldn't be without Gladiator

    This is an awesome experience throughout - the battle scenes portray carnage that is perfectly illustrated in the accompanying mash of metal on flesh output through the surround sound. Look out for the gladiatorial combat segment with chained tigers emerging from trapdoors in the arena!


    If you’re looking for hardcore metal-on-metal battling it out, Transformers has some superb moments, such as the early Bumblebee versus Barricade battle and the final city-based engagement. Yet the quiet night-time creeping around outside the Witwicky house by Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet is probably the best moment, offering plenty of ambient sounds and a few laughs too!

    Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

    There are a few trilogies in this list, with only one movie picked out from each. Surround sound in The Two Towers is particularly impressive. As with all of the best examples of brilliant sound tracks, equal attention has been given to all stages of the movie - whether lost with Sam and Frodo and the tragic Gollum or the amazing battle scene in the second half, wondering at the spectacle of Helm's Deep in the desolate wind of Rohan or the eerie sounds of the forest, The Two Towers is a great way to show off your surround sound.

    The free-running scene in Casino Royale takes place around a building site - superb! Casino Royale

    The three major set pieces in this movie – James Bond free running to chase the terrorist early on, the saving of the Skyfleet airliner and the climactic and tragic death of Vesper Lynd in Venice at the end – are all worthy of the best surround sound systems available for your home theater. Yet nothing compares to the sound of the car chase two thirds of the way through.

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    The defeat of Venom in Spiderman 3 is a superb surround sound moment Spiderman 3

    All of the Spiderman films have great surround, but Spiderman 3 is notable for an awesome sequence in which the webslinger defeats his bizarre part-alien nemesis Venom using sound waves.

    Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

    An amazingly tough choice – all of the three original Star Wars movies have remarkable sound that has been beautifully restored – but the contrast between orchestra backed outer space combat and the personal struggle of Luke Skywalker on board the second Death Star makes this the best choice of the series for surround sound par excellence.

    The Matrix Reloaded

    The second installment of the Matrix Trilogy features as many good examples of surround sound as each of the others – however the scene in which Morpheus and Trinity attempt to escape via the highway with the Keymaker is a particularly superb combination of awesome visuals and jaw-dropping surround sound.

    Live Free Die Hard (Die Hard 4.0)

    Although not as big a success as the earlier movies in the franchise, Die Hard 4 is a great action movie that is typically chock full of guns, explosions and aircraft. One particular scene that stands out takes place in a gas utility control station and ends with some of the biggest explosions you’ll see in a movie.

    Terminator 2 features Guns'n'Roses on the sound track. 'Nuff said. Terminator 2

    With Guns n Roses appearing on the sound track, a motorcycle chase and a series of superb battles between the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the new T 1000 (Robert Patrick) director James Cameron matches the cutting edge CGI used in Terminator 2 with some remarkable sound effects that really bring your surround sound to life.

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    Movies That Missed Out

    Other movies that missed out but which you might also like to consider include Iron Man, Moulin Rouge, Superman Returns and Terminator Salvation.

    As sound engineering techniques for DVD and particularly Blu-ray become more advanced and take full advantage of the medium, more and more top quality movies will be able to reproduce the same amazing sound quality that they enjoy in cinemas.

    These are exciting times for anyone with a surround sound system in their home theater - and things can only get better!