So much for music blaring during the movie.
So much for good sound mixing in the movie, period, actually. After sitting through the first half an hour of ROTS on opening night, I wondered what was wrong with what I was hearing. The music was really low. The sound effects were flat. I blamed it on the theater, even with it running a film print with DTS audio. They must have screwed something up.
The next day, I took in the movie at the Arclight in Hollywood, running the show on a 1.5k DLP projector, with uncompressed PCM audio. In these theaters, I've never experienced a poor presentation. They're first rate. Again, quiet music. Again, sound effects lay flat on the screen.
I gave it one last show last night, and saw the movie on in the Cinerama Dome at the Arclight, which is running ROTS on a brand new 2K digital projector with, again, uncompressed audio. Again, in this thundering auditorium, the sound did nothing but disappoint.
The music's dynamic range seems squashed, tinny, and pushed way, way down behind the sound effects. It never has a chance to rise and surge emotion into the movie when it needs to. Instead, you hear it murmuring in the background.
Even when sound effects should take precedence, they never do. It the opening space battle, we see the Jedi starfighters race into frame, and if you listen carefully, beneath the endless layers of background sounds and rumbles of star destroyers, you may hear the whine of their little engines. The entire mix is out of character with the rest of the series, even by PT standards.
What a disappointment.
For once Ben Burtt isn't to blame, and now I can harp on the absence of Gary Rydstrom, who I guess is at Pixar full-time now. Whoever mixed ROTS delivered something far less than what it should have been.