I agree. There are literally thousands of great composers out there, some of them still in in their teens, others a lot older, who are more than happy to score a half-decent film. When they get a great edit, they can really shine.
I think it looks great. I love this look.
You don't need a story. You just need awesome CG. Michael Bay has proven this conclusively.
I think in music recording there's an emphasis on music color that is totally irrelevant for sound production in post, with expensive compressors and mysteriously high-priced outboard that's of no value to any filmmaker.
That said, good compression is hard to come by. Many compressors add a lot of distortion and while that's cool for a vintage effect on your sound, it's undesirable for purity and clarity. Same with EQ. If it weren't for George Massenburg, we would all still believe in the inevitability of distortion, and then mostly phase distortion in the case of EQ. Learning to recognize resonances in sound and on location, i think is vital to getting good audio.https://vimeo.com/100724760https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kBFqHo2z9Qhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Xemqg8jkpQ
Microphones have become incredibly good value these past decades. With a little research it's hard to go wrong as there are so many good and inexpensive microphones out there. Still there's a reason why some expensive microphones continue their success. A good thing so many cheaper mics can be modded with better capsules for stellar performance at a lower cost.
When it comes to mastering, you really need to have good and often expensive gear. Some of this is available in plugins these days, like the MD3, which makes it more affordable. But i think it's best to get out and have it done in a proper facility or when you have the technical skill to rent a TC6000 or something, cause to my ears this is the only area in audio that has not been democratized and the expensive stuff really sounds better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alo2wDBMSFE
Audio is a vast vast subject. And sadly there are a lot of bogus claims made and a lot of oil snake sold. In the end you only get what you pay for up to a certain limit. After that, it's just sales talk and playing people's perceptions into buying something they cannot compare, cause our echoic memory is only 4 seconds, at least in most humans.
So yes it comes down to knowing your gear and knowing when to use it and when to get something different. A good thing YouTube is full of enlightening audio tutorials nowadays.
I think most sound engineers and sound designers use a lot of different impulse responses to get the right depth. Plugins like Altiverb and Speakerphone are ready-made for this, but when on a tight budget you can easily find many libraries of impulse responses on the net.
Now impulse responses are very cool, but algorithmic reverbs are very handy, too. There are some excellent plugins now that rival or even exceed the quality of reverbs like Lexicon, like from Lexicon itself but i like mostly 2CAudio, Eventide, ...
Again there are always free alternatives that are very good, but often need a lot of tweaking. It's nice the more expensive reverbs have a lot of excellent presets that often are superb also for filmhttp://getthatprosound.com/the-10-best-reverb-plugins-in-the-world/
Lastly if your system would still support Powercore cards (no OSX after 10.8.4 i'm afraid) the TC VSS3 is the one i would recommend the most. It's got a complete library of presets just for film, and those are gorgeous. They're also in the TC M3000 and Reverb 4000, but why would you want to use hardware with just two channels if you can have the many instances of a plugin that is a lot cheaper and has the same algorithms.