The best Dolby Atmos movies of the decade (so far) to test your home cinema

Tom Cruise returns as the titular pilot in Top Gun: Maverick
(Image credit: Skydance)

If we're being honest, the 2020s have been a turbulent time for film releases. Between a worldwide pandemic that closed cinema doors for a considerable amount of time, to various Hollywood strikes that delayed films for months on end – the industry has weathered its fair share of tribulations as of late.

However, that hasn't stopped a wide selection of excellent movies from being released within the last four years, and we're sure there are many more to come. We're putting a spin on this roundup though as, in true What Hi-Fi? fashion, we want to find the best-sounding films from the current decade that take advantage of the Dolby Atmos immersive audio format.

These films are perfect if you've treated yourself to a new Dolby Atmos soundbar or an AVR and surround sound speaker package, as they feature plenty of scenes to test drive your new sound system. Obviously, we're looking for specific examples of overhead audio to flex those height channels and top-notch directional surround sound.

Dune (2021)

Dune Official Trailer - YouTube Dune Official Trailer - YouTube
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Kicking things off with 2021's Dune, there are multiple scenes that multiple members of the What Hi-Fi? team can recite verbatim due to how often we have used the film as a benchmark to test Dolby Atmos-equipped devices. 

Not only is this an excellent sci-fi film and setup to a greater universe (spoilers: you'll be seeing the follow-up on this list shortly), but it also happens to feature an absolute bucket load of scenes that sound excellent in Dolby Atmos. 

The most iconic is the Atreides' excursion out into the spice fields of the planet Arrakis, which introduces viewers to the ginormous sandworms that roam the desert and cause havoc for the spice production process. Here we get a sense of verticality in the sound with the ornithopter buzzing around in the sky, making daring dives in order to rescue the crew of the spice harvester.

Furthermore, we have the exhilarating moment in which the worm breaches the sand dunes, with a hair-raising crescendo combining the booming soundtrack with the rush of sand and fluttering aircraft wings. 

Splice in some earnest dialogue and nightmarish whispering as part of Paul's vision and we have a scene that was simply made to be watched in Dolby Atmos.

Buy the Dune 4K Blu-ray from Amazon

Dune: Part Two (2024)

Dune: Part Two | Official Trailer - YouTube Dune: Part Two | Official Trailer - YouTube
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Swiftly following that up with the sequel, Dune: Part Two. Released this year, it has had one of the most successful theatrical runs of the year (so far). This continuation of the first film is equally impressive where sound is concerned, with plenty of large-scale battles and otherworldly effects that are best experienced in Dolby Atmos.

A personal favourite scene takes place within the first third of the film and involves an ambush of the villainous Harkonnen forces by the rebellious Fremen warriors. The scene begins quietly and builds into an epic action spectacle, with enemies raining down gunfire from a weaponised ornithopter, providing a clear sense of height when using a quality Atmos system.

Partner that with the sounds of swords clashing with armour and an explosive finale that ensures this film earns a worthy spot on this list. It's also just released on 4K Blu-ray so we'll ensure not to spoil too much, as this is a must-see film. 

Buy the Dune: Part Two 4K Blu-ray from Amazon

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Top Gun: Maverick - Official Trailer (2022) - Paramount Pictures - YouTube Top Gun: Maverick - Official Trailer (2022) - Paramount Pictures - YouTube
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A general rule of thumb (as you may have already twigged) is that films with aircraft in them tend to suit Dolby Atmos, and what better film than 2022's Top Gun: Maverick to demonstrate that?

Released 36 years after the '80s original, Maverick delivered the goods as the long-awaited sequel and arrived to reinvigorate a cinema industry that had taken a major hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, people flocked to the cinema to watch it, and we understand why, as it is arguably the most memorable blockbuster of the 2020s thus far. 

It also happens to be the perfect movie to watch in Dolby Atmos. The rush of fighter jets zipping by and the Darkstar's take off as Maverick attempts to hit Mach 9 speeds are simply too perfect not to experience in Dolby Atmos, with the surround effect and height channels given some serious work.  

Buy the Top Gun: Maverick 4K Blu-ray from Amazon

The Batman (2022)

THE BATMAN – Main Trailer - YouTube THE BATMAN – Main Trailer - YouTube
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This long-awaited superhero flick was finally released in 2021, and it introduced us to one of the best interpretations of the character yet. The Batman is a gritty noir-style take on the genre that we seldom see, and it fits the character perfectly. The realistic and grounded take mixed with the more fantastical elements of the superhero genre are a sight to behold, with the brutal beatdown of criminals followed by the legendary "I'm vengeance" line cementing this as one of the best superhero films of the decade.

Enough about that though, we're here to discuss Dolby Atmos, and does The Batman deliver? Of course it does, and if you don't believe us, just watch the sensational Batmobile chase sequence from this film. The snarls of the Batmobile's engine mixed with the thunderous soundtrack and rush of cars crashing and flipping makes this sequence alone worth watching in Dolby Atmos.

Throw in some energetic nightclub sequences and an enthralling wing suit escape and you have a film that requires a good Dolby Atmos soundbar or speaker package to be done justice (pun intended).  

Buy The Batman 4K Blu-ray from Amazon

No Time To Die (2021)

NO TIME TO DIE Trailer – In Cinemas October 2021. - YouTube NO TIME TO DIE Trailer – In Cinemas October 2021. - YouTube
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The final outing for Daniel Craig's iteration of James Bond is a mixed bag overall, but you can rely on it to sound absolutely fantastic. 2021's No Time To Die was severely delayed due to the pandemic, but the excellent array of action on display throughout this film made the wait mostly worth it.

There are a few standout scenes, including the pulse-pounding car chase through the idyllic Italian city of Matera and the action-packed shootout in Santiago de Cuba. However, the nail-biting chase through a forest in Norway is what seals the deal for us, as it features an outstanding example of how to use Dolby Atmos surround sound to build tension. 

There is, of course, a helicopter, which ticks that box, and loads of off-road cars making daring jumps and crashing spectacularly. However, it's the point at which Bond is stalked by dirt bike-riding baddies that is a quality example of how Atmos can be used, as a good system will make you feel as tense as Agent 007 in this scenario with the effects moving around you organically in a 360-degree sound field. 

Buy the No Time To Die 4K Blu-ray from Amazon

The Creator (2023)

The Creator | Official Trailer - YouTube The Creator | Official Trailer - YouTube
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The Creator might not have been the sci-fi epic we were all hoping for, but we can't deny the fact that it sounds excellent. This film hit cinemas last year and was directed by Gareth Edwards, the same director as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which also happens to be one of our go-to reference movies for testing AV kit. 

There are plenty of bass-heavy sci-fi sound effects that should appease subwoofer enthusiasts, but it's the fast-paced chases, bombastic battle scenes and the imposing U.S.S Nomad soaring overhead that truly allow for Dolby Atmos to step in and elevate the sound experience (literally). 

Buy The Creator 4K Blu-ray from Amazon

Nope (2022)

NOPE | Official Trailer - YouTube NOPE | Official Trailer - YouTube
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Visionary director Jordan Peele's inventive sci-fi horror fusion was a sight to behold when it was released in 2022. You might notice a theme on this list, and that's because sci-fi just seems to suit Dolby Atmos better than many other genres.

Nope is a prime example, as the grand finale of this film is a sensational demonstration of Dolby Atmos in action. A mind-bending extra terrestrial soaring overhead is the ideal candidate to test your height channels, while the formidable score and wide, expansive shots full of environmental sounds flesh out the experience. 

Buy the Nope 4K Blu-ray from Amazon  

Extraction 2 (2023)

EXTRACTION 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix - YouTube EXTRACTION 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix - YouTube
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Is it high art? No. Is it a hell of a lot of fun? Absolutely. Extraction 2 is an action-packed thrill ride that blurs the line between film and theme park ride, and it is a blast in Dolby Atmos.

Notable scenes include the protagonist battling no less than two helicopters on a moving train, in which we're treated to a spectacular display of overhead spatial audio, and a rooftop battle that should satisfy any fan of action movies. There are also dramatic car crashes, fist fights and shootouts galore, which makes this film an excellent way to take Dolby Atmos out for a spin.

Watch Extraction 2 on Netflix


The best films of 2023 to test your TV or home cinema system

Check out our favourite Dolby Atmos soundbars

And the best AV receivers

Lewis Empson
Staff Writer

Lewis Empson is a Staff Writer on What Hi-Fi?. He was previously Gaming and Digital editor for Cardiff University's 'Quench Magazine', Lewis graduated in 2021 and has since worked on a selection of lifestyle magazines and regional newspapers. Outside of work, he enjoys gaming, gigs and regular cinema trips.