Back in October 2021 we had a great time with Denis Villeneuve’s Dune Part One, or Dune 2021. We thought it looked great then, but little did we know. In hindsight, the problem was that last year the film was available either in theaters, where it went on to become one of the biggest movies of the “pandemic era” so far, or via streaming. The streaming versions eventually left much to be desired. Shown on HBO MAX and HBO GO, depending on market, Dune 2021’s online edits didn’t do this gorgeous movie justice. The 1080p stream was way too low resolution to showcase all the seemingly endless details delivered by the film, and even the 4K version felt a bit compressed.
So when Warner Bros. and Legendary announced a proper 4K Blu-ray disc version, we got excited and hoped for the best. We were not disappointed!
To be clear, this version of Dune 2021 is native 2160p with HDR10 and Dolby Vision. There’s no upscaling from 2K, no dithering, no checkerboarding. It’s the real deal and arguably the best looking Blu-ray we’ve seen since the Game of Thrones 4K package. The difference between this disc edit and the 4K streamed version is immediately noticeable, with a pristine, crisp image, no shimmering, no artifacts in dark corners of the screen, and proper HDR. Right off the bat, the explosions in the opening sequence where the Fremen fire on Harkonnen spice harvesters look amazing and stand out as intended by the filmmakers. On 4K Blu-ray, Dune 2021’s undeniable beauty comes across as unmitigated as possible. This is a big sci-fi effects and sets movie, and if you’re not watching it in the best format available you’re essentially shortchanging yourself.
Detail benefits immensely from the real 4K treatment. When you can actually count the hairs in Oscar Isaac’s beard, you know things are looking up. This is a gorgeous Blu-ray and one more demo for the standard, which sadly is losing ground to the convenience and ready availability of streaming services. We’re a long way from streams looking as good as physical media, but they do look good enough in most cases, making it that much harder for Blu-ray and any possible future physical forms to maintain their position.
If audio matters to you, nothing beats a good Blu-ray. The 4K disc is formatted in Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD, and both work masterfully, unlike the streaming versions with their slightly compressed sound that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny if you’re an audiophile. Vocals are much clearer and crisper, plus the Hans Zimmer soundtrack makes a much bigger impression this time round. For comparison, the 1080p Dolby 2.0 version of Dune 2021 sounds a lot flatter but of course gets the job done nonetheless. If you have a big screen home theater system, there’s just no contest, you need the 4K Blu-ray disc version to get the best audio in Dune 2021.
The 4K release of Dune 2021 arrives with the customary two-disc setup. One is the 4K HDR feature film, the other a collection of 1080p bonus features. These look fine on a 4K TV due to upscaling, but nothing close to the main 4K movie. There are no deleted scenes, but rather plenty of backstory and making of content that fans of the movie are sure to enjoy.
Speaking of fans, if in any shape or form you enjoyed Dune 2021 and are waiting for part two to release late next year, then you should try to get your hands on the 4K disc version. We know not many people have dedicated 4K Blu-ray players these days, but perhaps the time to consider one is now.
Thanks for your feedback!