DUNE 4k Blu Ray Review – The Spice Reigns In Ultra High Definition

Certainly a movie that has taken a LONG time to get off the ground, DUNE is a movie that comes with a lot of history and many attempts to get it to the big screen. I remember seeing the 4k laser IMAX screening of Dune at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival where it made my Top 10, and I wrote this: 

“A movie so overwhelming that I even tried watching it a second time at the festival just to sink in all the details (spoiler alert; I didn’t get in), the long awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel of complex and warring nations and societies, all set against the backdrop of this story’s Skywalker, really named Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) and the world around him is rich, complex…and yes, even confusing as all get out at times. I am a pretty hardcore moviegoer and even I had trouble following some of the storylines, yet was also completely fascinated by the rich storytelling and incredible, large-format visual design. When it comes to your town, make sure you see it at a theatre that knows their projection quality, either in a regular theatre or an IMAX one. My only real question is what would Alejandro Jodorowsky, who tried and failed to bring this to screen decades ago (and there’s a great documentary about him that is worth seeing) would think of Villenenvue’s vision?” 

Watching it again, I was still amazed by the sheer amount of scope here that reminds me of more old school 50s/60s large-format filmmaking, and that we even have another movie still in progress. It’s pretty fascinating to think that DUNE was in production not knowing if the second one would be made or not, but thankfully after its first successful weekend of release the second part was confirmed, even though we will have to wait until the fall of 2023 to see it. I can only imagine the legacy of this Part One if the sequel did NOT happen! 

About the 4k release: 

Let me get this out of the way first: this 4k, HDR, Dolby Vision transfer is absolutely stunning throughout. DUNE was shot entirely digital in both its IMAX footage along with regular footage, and this transfer retains the exact theatrical presentation, and even in some of its more black scenes even transcend the regular release version that I viewed theatrically. The detail is deep and powerful, and I was the most impressed by a lot of the sand sequences where you truly can see a lot of minute detail. Villenenvue mentioned that he filmed in the same locations as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and it’s a great tribute.

It comes with one caveat that may upset some DUNE fans, especially if you saw it theatrically in IMAX; all of the footage here is in the theatrical 2.39:1 scope aspect ratio and the image does NOT expand vertically for the IMAX sequences. While I can understand some may be annoyed by this, this is always a case by case basis for me. Last year’s TENET 4k release did expand as there were many full sequences in the format and to date is still my favourite 4k disc release. 

In the case of DUNE and being an at-home experience, I rather prefer the image staying in the same aspect ratio throughout. This may be a stipulation with IMAX to only allow their footage to be seen exclusively in theatre but for the storytelling on home video, I feel that it would be a bit of a distraction. When I saw DUNE in IMAX last fall I noticed the format switches were very frequent unlike TENET, which had entire sequences for it’s 15-perf 70mm sequences. So again, this is a case-by-case situation, but I think keeping it all in scope for DUNE works better in my eyes. Your mileage may vary, of course. 

The soundtrack is available here in full on Dolby Atmos as well as a more traditional 5.1 track. The track is very strong in surround use, deep bass and good directionality. Let the end credits run and you’ll get a really loud and bombastic presentation of some of the main music score themes. The extras here, once again, are all on the Blu Ray and are all production featurettes broken up by chapters as per usual, starting from the adaptation through to filming and post production. It’s great to see a lot of unique talents really love their work and the passion is on display here.

DUNE is now available on 4k Blu Ray along with separate Blu Ray, DVD and digital releases. Our thanks to Warner Bros PR for sending along a copy for review. 

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