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Dune (1984) 4K UHD and Blu-ray Reviews

“Dune” has much to admire, but is lacking as an adaptation.

Based on Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel, 1984’s “Dune” is the first big screen adaptation. Summing up the story is a challenge in and of itself, but essentially this is the story of how the Atreides family (AKA House Atreides) move to Arrakis. Despite being a barren desert planet, Arakkis is the center of the universe as it is where the spice comes from. The spice is a valuable drug that also doubles as an essential component of space travel. House Atreides becomes targeted by the Emperor and House Harkonnen. Paul (who just might be a God like being known as the Kwisatz Haderach) manages to escape with his life alongside Lady Jessica (his father’s concubine) where they meet the local Fremen. The Fremen believe Paul is the Messiah and that he will lead them to reclaim Arrakis.

While we all wait for 2021’s “Dune” with bated breath, now is as good of a time as any to revisit writer/director David Lynch’s take. On paper, one of the most innovative filmmakers in David Lynch taking on what I consider the best novel with Frank Herbert’s “Dune” sounds like a match made in heaven. Sadly, it doesn’t quite turn out that way.

There is a lot to like about this “Dune.” Visually, the movie is a triumph. Not only did Lynch bring the pages of the novel to life, but he also put his own spin on it. Everything from The Navigator and Baron Harkonnen designs to the look of Giedi Prime are pure Lynch. In fact, the sets, production design, and special effects (especially the sandworms and ships) are all spectacular (especially for the time). 

The cast is also generally solid although there could have been a few stronger performances to be sure. A star was born with Kyle MacLachlan taking on the role of Paul Atreides as his feature film debut. Kenneth McMillan steals the movie as the repulsive, loathsome Baron Harkonnen. Also appreciated the performances by Everett McGill (Stilgar), Brad Dourif (Piter), Francesca Annis (Lady Jessica) and Max Von Sydow (Doctor Kynes) as well. 

The rock band Toto doing the score for “Dune” may sound strange, but in reality, it might be the best thing about the movie. It’s ominous, it’s uplifting, it’s memorable, it’s everything it should be.

So what exactly went wrong with “Dune” you may ask? A lot. It is widely reported that this was a troubled production. Lynch himself didn’t even get Final Cut and it shows in the end result. The main problem here is that you cannot condense the book into one movie. It’s too dense for that. 136 minutes is not enough time to delve into the rich mythology or the deep story about politics, nature, religion, drugs, war, destiny and so much more. Sure, the movie tries with clumsy narration for exposition, but like much of the film, it feels like a rushed mess. Likewise, Lynch struggles in conveying the epic story on the big screen. It sometimes feels stagy which does a disservice to the story. It should be an intense, larger than life space opera with galactic stakes.


Presentation: 2.35:1 2160p with Dolby Vision for the 4K and 2.35:1 1080p for the Blu-ray. How do they look? Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs contain new 4K restorations from original camera negative. The 4K  isn’t quite the print some have hoped for. Many shots overly fuzzy while others fare better. The Blu-ray disc may be slightly less defined, but there are minimal differences between this and the 4K disc. They are nearly identical to my eyes.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Uncompressed Stereo for the 4K and Blu-ray. How do they sound? It’s a shame the 4K release didn’t have higher quality audio, but what can you do? The  5.1 track isn’t quite as lively as one would hope, but strangely, the 2.0 track is noticeably better. 

* A double-sided poster
* A thick booklet with photos, credits, Dune Terminology, essays by Andrew Nette and Christian McCrea, a piece on the music by Charlie Bridgen, an interview with sound designer Alan Splet by Ric Gentry, and a 1997 Lynch On Lynch interview by Chris Rodley
* 6 postcards
* Production stills, behind the scenes, cast portraits, production design and poster and video art still galleries
* 2 theatrical trailers, US TV spots and VHS Promo.
* Nearly 14 ½ minutes of deleted scenes with intro by Raffaela De Laurentiis.
* A 1983 promotional featurette titled “Destination Dune.”
* 4 2005 featurettes on the costumes, production design, FX, models and miniatures complete with interviews.
* “Impressions Of Dune”- A nearly 40 minute 2003 documentary in which cast and crew members recount how the project came to be, the production, the special effects, and the final product.
* 2 brand new commentaries by film historian Paul M. Sammon and podcaster Mike White
* Additional interviews with make-up effects artist Giannetto de Rossi, production coordinator Golda Offenheim, actor Paul Smith and special make-up effects artist Christopher Tucker.
* “Prophecy Fulfilled: Scoring Dune”- A new featurette on Toto’s score. Interviews with Toto band members Steve Lukather and Steve Porcaro and film music historian Tim Greiving are included.
* “Beyond Imagination: Merchandising Dune”- A 22 1/2 minute interview with toy collector/producer Brian Stillman who talks about the history of “Dune” merchandise. This is my personal favorite extra as I have always enjoyed the history of movie-tie ins.

September 3, 2021 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review, Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , ,

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