Last night we caught an advanced screening of Disney's 'The Jungle Book' at the historic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California. The film -- which follows other classic Disney animation reboots like 'Maleficent' and 'Cinderella' -- opens Friday, and has been graded for Dolby Vision high dynamic range and mixed in the ultra immersive Dolby Atmos sound format.
Dolby Atmos debuted theatrically four years ago on Disney/Pixar's 'Brave', and is now in 1,600 cinemas in more that 60 countries (to find one in your area, click HERE). More recently, Dolby Atmos expanded into the home cinema ecosystem where it remains a favorite sound mixing option for Hollywood filmmakers as well as audio geeks like me. Here are some upcoming films you'll soon be able to experience in Dolby Atmos:
Hunt for the Wilderpeople, June 26, 2016
The Secret Life of Pets, July 8, 2016
Ghostbusters, July 15, 2016
Ice Age: Collision Course, July 22, 2016
Suicide Squad, August 5, 2016
LAIKA’s Kubo and the Two Strings, August 19, 2016
Inferno, October 28, 2016
Passengers, December 21, 2016
Monster Trucks, January 13, 2017
The LEGO® Batman Movie, February 10, 2017
Baby Driver, March 17, 2017
Spider-Man, July 7, 2017
Dolby Vision is a newer technology that incorporates high dynamic range grading as well as support for the Rec 2020 color gamut (though most films are still graded to DCI P3). In theatrical implementations, Dolby and Christie built a proprietary dual-4K laser projection system capable of projection at 31fL of peak luminescence in 2D (double standard digital cinemas), and 14fL in 3D (two-to-three times standard 3D cinemas). All with a million-to-one contrast ratio. In 2016, thanks to partnerships with companies like VIZIO and LG, Dolby Vision content is available on Netflix and VUDU streaming services, and should become available on Ultra HD Blu-rays.
When Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos are combined in one auditorium, the result is Dolby Cinema (I'm simplifying a little; for more info, read THIS). AMC Theatres currently has 15 Dolby Cinema auditoriums running in the US with four more "coming soon." Dubbed Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime, these theatres not only feature exceptional picture and sound, but also have uber-comfy leather recliners.
Here are some upcoming titles you can expect to see in Dolby Cinema locations (with Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos):
Hardcore Harry, Out Now
The Jungle Book, April 15, 2015
Captain America: Civil War, May 6, 2016
Alice Through the Looking Glass, May 27, 2016
X-Men: Apocalypse, May 27, 2016
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, June 3, 2016
Warcraft, June 10, 2016
Finding Dory, June 17, 2016
Independence Day: Resurgence, June 24, 2016
The Legend of Tarzan, July 1, 2016
Star Trek Beyond, July 22, 2016
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, October 21, 2016
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, November 11, 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, November 18, 2016
Wonder Woman, June 2017
'The Jungle Book'
Wow. Just wow. I've been hearing good things over the last few weeks, but Disney's 'The Jungle Book', directed by Jon Favreau and written by Justin Marks, is the real deal, a family adventure movie that builds on its Disney heritage, while staking its own sense of tone and building out an animated universe in a mostly photo-realistic way (I'd say the VFX are like 90-95% on point).
I'll leave the full review to Phil over at The Bonus View, but for me, this flick excels on all levels -- story, emotions, characters, visuals, sound -- and is easily the best of these Disney animation-to-live-action reboots. Of course, "live action" is a bit of a stretch as the film was shot mostly indoors much like 'Avatar' and 'Life of Pi'. Still, this movie really worked for me, Funny. Epic. Musical numbers. Edge-of-your-seat action. Jokes for kids and adults. Even pretty intense scares at times (careful with the littlest little ones). If you enjoy Disney movies or adventure stories, 'The Jungle Book' is a great family adventure, exuding fun in almost every frame (even the closing credits).
Dolby Vision 3D
Good news / bad news. With 14fL of peak brightness, Dolby Vision 3D is the clearest, sharpest, richest version of 3D available today. One problem: most Dolby Cinemas currently operating in the US only play Dolby Vision content in two dimensions, leaving one place to experience 'The Jungle Book' in Dolby Vision 3D: the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA.
If you live in Los Angeles, run-don't-walk to see this movie there.
If not, let's try to break down the film's visual components in a way that might help you figure out where to see this film.
First, the 3D is gobsmacking. I know we have a number of readers who love the format, and they're going to be in heaven. Right up there with 'Life of Pi', 'Gravity', and 'Avatar', 'The Jungle Book' offers exceptional depth into the film's universe. Jungles and plains stretch on forever, while caves close in around you, making you feel as though you are there with the characters. There are a few pop-out moments too, but most of the film's presentation is about that window into another world. Sitting in my seat, I couldn't believe that most of what I was seeing was dreamed up in a computer.
On the nitpicky side of things, there are a few moments where Mowgli is a little cardboard-flat when compared to his CGI surroundings. But overall, this is excellent 3D. If you don't live near a Dolby Cinema location and/or if you love 3D, definitely check out this version of the movie because who knows if Disney will bring this to Blu-ray 3D.
Next, lets chat about the Dolby Vision high dynamic range grading. Granted, I've yet to see the SDR grading, so I can't specifically say what's improved, but I can say 'The Jungle Book' has been rendered lovingly and beautifully. 3D aside, what struck me was the variety of jungle environments. Boiling desert plains, muddy ravines, dense jungles, and everything in between. Each one offered oodles of contrast and dynamic range, with nothing peaking or blowing out. But the showstopping visuals come during any nighttime sequences that involve a roaring fire. Sparks and embers and flames glow a menacing red next to inky blacks and visible shadow details.
I definitely need to go see this in 2D Dolby Vision to compare, but I think it's safe to say audiences are going to be wowed in the coming weeks.
This sound mix breaks my heart. Why? Because even though Disney has been a huge proponent of Dolby Atmos in commercial cinemas, the studio has not announced support for the format on physical media or OTT digital. Which brings us to the artistic tragedy of the week:
'The Jungle Book' is must-experience Dolby Atmos. Right up there with 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', 'Life of Pi', 'Gravity', and 'Mad Mad Fury Road', 'The Jungle Book' Dolby Atmos mix lifts up already-luscious visuals with an engrossing, world-building sound design.
To put it bluntly, gone were the ornate walls of the El Capitan; instead the audience and I were in the jungle, immersed in the blowing trees and buzzing insects and flowing streams. Every animal voice, call, or growl resonated with depth and power. Rain poured down from overhead. Diving into rivers submerged us with the characters. And that doesn't even include individual object panning. Listen carefully for the eagles (hawks maybe?) who screech overhead. Close your eyes when Scarlet Johansson's velvet voice (as Kaa) lulls Mowgli into a trance by swirling around the audience.
'The Jungle Book' in Dolby Atmos is an audiophile's dream come true. Don't miss it; especially since we have very little evidence to suspect we'll get to experience this mix in our homes. (I was saying Boo-urns.)
Disney's latest live action reboot is a grand cinematic adventure worth seeing on the biggest screen possible at your favorite cinema. In Dolby Vision 3D, 'The Jungle Book' offers deeply immersive visuals in the same league as 'Avatar', 'Life of Pi', and 'Gravity'. The Dolby Atmos sound mix is equally a stunner, wrapping audiences in layered jungle atmospherics while placing pin-point object sounds overhead and all around.
If you live in the Los Angles area, I highly recommend a trip to the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard to experience Dolby Vision in 3D and Dolby Atmos.
If that's not possible, check to see if there's a Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime location near you (reminder: these will be 2D only). Locations are listed HERE.
Since those are quite rare, search HERE for Dolby Atmos equipped auditoriums. Disney has yet to deliver a single movie to home video above a 7.1 mix, so this may be your only chance to experience this stunning sound design.
What about you, Dear Reader? Assuming you're interested in seeing the movie, how will you be experiencing 'The Jungle Book'?