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Dune (2021) 4K UHD Review

“Dune” is one of the best films of 2021.

Based on the novel by Frank Herbert, 2021’s “Dune” is a new feature film adaptation of the novel. Well, the first half of the novel. The second part is currently scheduled to be released next year. Anyway, the story follows House Atreides taking over as the overlords of Arrakis by order of the Emperor. The desert planet is in many ways the center of the universe as it contains Spice Melange (a multi-purpose spice used for travel and drugs). This whole takeover is nothing more than an illusion, however, as the Emperor is working with House Harkonnen to eradicate House Atreides and have Harkonnen take back control of the planet. Before that takes place, viewers are introduced to the central characters- Duke Leto Atreides, Leto’s concubine and a member of the Bene Gesserit order Lady Jessica, their son Paul Atreides (the main player), Gurney (a weapon expert), Duncan Idaho (a swordsman who has trained Paul). Paul is no ordinary son though as he just might be a messiah with visions of the future. We (the audience) also learn about the Fremen who are Arrakis natives led by Stilgar that live in the middle of the desert away from the population. To say they will play a key role later on is an understatement. 

We all know David Lynch is a master filmmaker, but his version of “Dune” left something to be desired. Yes, there were problems behind-the-scenes, but his take was decidedly mixed (albeit nothing short of fascinating). Now, director Denis Villenueve has tried his hand at tackling one of the great novels (and my personal favorite) and the result is everything a “Dune” fan could hope for. He nails it. For those worrying that there would be too much focus on the spectacle, you needn’t be worried. Not only do writers Denis Villenueve, Eric Roth and Jon Spaights intelligently explore the rich plot about religion, natural resources, politics, and destiny (including Paul essentially being used as a puppet), but the world building is absolutely perfect. There’s a real scale to this movie and the special effects, the sets, the Sandworm and Ornithopter designs all bring Herbert’s vision to life on the big screen. It’s a real credit to Villeneueve who did what many thought impossible.

Now, for those who might be bummed that it only covers half the book, don’t be. This still feels like a complete film. Should both parts have been filmed back to back? 100%, but this first installment ends in a perfect spot where Paul essentially begins a new chapter of his life.

The cast is one for the ages as it contains Oscar Isaac, Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgard, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Javier Bardem, Charlotte Rampling and Jason Momoa. Everyone nails the roles here, but it’s Chalamet, Momoa and Ferguson who stand out the most. Chalamet brings an energy and depth to Paul that goes beyond the page. That was a pleasant surprise. Ferguson (who can do no wrong) is spot on as Lady Jessica while Momoa was deeply surprising as Duncan Idaho. I was worried about Momoa’s casting initially as I wasn’t sure if he could pull it off, but he does. He has the best action scene in the movie to boot.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.39:1 2160p. How does it look? Flawless. 

Audio Track: Dolby Atmos. How does it sound? Easily one of the best Atmos tracks I’ve ever heard. Everything from Hans Zimmer ‘s score to the Ornithopters made the speakers sing.

Extras:
* Blu-ray copy
* Digital copy
* “The Royal Houses”-  An overview of the characters and Houses. Set footage and interviews are included.
* “Inside Dune”- 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes on The Training Room, The Spice Harvester and The Sardaukar Battle sequences.
* “Building The Ancient Future”- A featurette on the sets/production design.
* “Filmbooks”- Videos/history on House Atreides, House Harkonnen, The Bene Gesserit, The Fremen and The Spice Melange.
* “My Desert, My Dune”- A look at the concept art.
* “Constructing The Ornithopters”- The title says it all.
* “Designing The Sandworm”- A featurette on the look of the sandworms in the film.
* “Beware The Baron”- A featurette on the character of Baron Harkonnen.
* “Wardrobe From Another World”- This extra is all about the costume design.
* “A New Soundscape” covers the sound design and the score.

January 8, 2022 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , , ,

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