Dune is a movie that has plenty of technical achievements by director Denis Villeneuve and his team but very little emotion at its core, even with a respectable cast.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 155 min. – $49.98 | January 11, 2022
Date Published: 01/08/2022 | Author: The Movieman
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
The screen captures below were taken from the included Blu-ray and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD disc.
THE MOVIE — 3½/5
Plot Synopsis: Paul Atreides (TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET), a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence, only those who can conquer their own fear will survive.
Review: Based on the popular novel from Frank Herbert, Dune has been adapted twice before, once theatrically in 1984 and then again as a mini-series in 2000. Now we get the latest one from visionary filmmaker, Denis Villeneuve, who directed some great work including Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival, and while I wasn’t the biggest fan as a whole, but there were moments I loved from Blade Runner 2049, a suitable sequel to the original classic. Similarly, in regards to the work done on Dune, there is plenty to admire, but by the end, really didn’t have much emotion either way.
Dune is part one of a two part picture (the sequel is set for release in 2023) and from a technical front, this is nothing short of a masterpiece. No real surprise to anyone who had seen either Blade Runner 2049 or Arrival, the combination of visual effects with a natural environment is virtually seamless. Villeneuve and his crew manage to bring to life the planet of Arrakis, fleshing it out and giving it a realistic texture, far better than was done on David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation.
There’s no doubt of Villeneuve’s ability to create phenomenal visuals whether it’s a suspense-thriller like Prisoners or a introspective sci-fi drama like Arrival. With Dune, the visuals are fantastic. Unfortunately there those excel, there’s little to no emotional impact with anything else. I will say by the time the film faded to black, I was stunned, not on some great cinematic experience but on how much I didn’t care about any of the characters. For the most part, they felt pretty superficial.
And it’s not for a lack of talent. Villeneuve assembled another exceptional cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem and Stellan Skarsgård, none of them really stood out, though I suppose Isaac has a couple fine scenes. Timothée Chalamet in the lead also wasn’t terribly impressive, although his scenes opposite Oscar Isaac showed some semblance of an emotional core, fleeting as it was.
All that said, in the end I don’t think Dune was a particularly bad movie however it is one that outside of the technical feats, it’s especially memorable. I don’t know if it’s due to the difficulty of adapting what I’ve heard is difficult source material.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3½/5
This release comes with a redemption code for the Digital HD copy. Oddly enough on the next menu screen for the features, a couple of them repeat, not sure why. Anyway, all told there is 72-minutes worth of material, just wish it was done as one long documentary…
The Royal Houses (8:12) — Featurette that breaks down some of the characters interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage.
Film Books (10:27) is a series of mini-featurettes and background on the subjects: “House Atreides”, “House Harkonnen”, “The Bene Gesserit”, “The Freman” and “The Spice Melange”, this last one was alos available separately.
Inside Dune (12:24) is split into three separate featurettes: The Training Room. The Spice Harvester and The Sardukar Battle, which was already there as a separate featurette.
Building the Ancient Future (6:26) — This featurette looks at the production design and keeping it the spirit of the book.
My Desert, My Dune (4:50) is a featurette on the concept art, visual effects and filming in the desert in Jordan.
Construction the Ornithopters (5:38) looks at the design behind the helicopter-like vehicles.
Designing the Sandworm (5:40) delves into the development of the sandworm, a key element of the source.
Beware the Baron (5:00) goes into the design and make-up work for the villain as portrayed by Stellan Skarsgård.
Wardrobe From Another World (2:52) focuses on the costume design.
A New Soundscape (11:12) is a featurette on the sound design and Hans Zimmer’s score.
4K ULTRA HD VIDEO – 5/5, BLU-RAY VIDEO – 4¾/5
Dune comes to 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray, presented in the original 2.39 widescreen aspect ratio and given 2160p and 1080p high-definition transfers, respectively. I watched the whole movie on 4K with did some comparisons with the Blu-ray afterward. From my eye, there’s not a significant difference between the two. First, the 4K picture looks pretty stunning, detail is sharp throughout and colors, with some aid with HDR (my system cannot decode Dolby Vision, but that is available) are vibrant and bright, though geared toward the more natural tones with the desert setting. In comparison, the Blu-ray is still sharp just the natural noise was a bit more evident.
AUDIO – 5/5
The disc comes with a bombastic Dolby Atmos track that kicked into high gear within the very first shot. The dialogue comes across with decent clarity when it wasn’t being drowned out by Hans Zimmer’s sometimes overbearing score, and this is coming from someone who generally loves his work. In any case, the action sequences provide some fantastic depth making usage of all channels, with no signs of aural ailments.
OVERALL — 4½/5
Dune is a movie that has plenty of technical achievements by director Denis Villeneuve and his team but very little emotion at its core, even with a respectable cast. This 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack features excellent video and audio transfers and a good selection of extras.
Note: The screen captures on the next page are from the Blu-ray and do not represent the 4K transfer. In addition, these may contain spoilers.