Dune: Part Two - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Dune: Part Two


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Movie: :4.5stars:
4K Video: :5stars:
Video:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:




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Movie

While I don’t worship at his cinematic prowess as much as others do, I have no choice but to acknowledge that Denis Villeneuve is a true auteur, and has given us some absolutely fantastic films over the years. The first Sicario is a fantastic action/thriller, and I’m still shocked and amazed that Blade Runner 2049 was as good as it was. It may not have rivaled the original film, but a sequel made nearly 40 years later based upon one of the most iconic sci-fi films of all time? That was a HARD stunt to pull off, and while I have some reservations about it, was still a very good film. But Dune? That was a HAAAAAAAAAARD thing to pull off. Outside of Lord of the Rings, Dune is probably one of the biggest and most iconic book series in sci-fi/fantasy history, and also one of the most difficult books to bring to the silver screen correctly. It was tried back in the 80s with the Lynch film (which is it’s own thing in my humble opinion, 80s cheese and all), and actually given a really good adaptation with the SyFy channel mini series with William Hurt (though that suffered with budget constraints and issues with TV sensibilities. But to date, it’s one of the most book accurate representations out there. So color me surprised when 2021’s Dune was announced. I was skeptical. I was a bit hesitant in even being excited. We were in the middle of the Covid pandemic, and it seemed that anything decent was being shelved or relegated to streaming. Top Gun: Maverick hadn’t reignited the lust for big screen cinema again, and sci-fi seemed to have been on a downward trend lately. But stuffing crow down my face a scant year later when I reviewed the 4K UHD of the first film, and was pleasantly shocked to find it one of the better adaptations of the source material. AND despite some minor (and some not so minor) alterations it turned out to be one of the best films of 2021 bar none.

We always knew that there was going to be a Part Two if the first film’s box office was big enough. Well, after the first week or so it was obvious that Denis Villeneuve was going to be given a blank check to write the second half, and we just had to wait nearly three freaking years for the film conclusion to the seminal Frank Herbert novel.

The film picks up right after Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) barely escaped with their lives after the Harkonnen betrayal of their house. With every Atreides wiped off the map, the two have nothing left but to escape into the barren desert of Arrakis, where they are met by the mysterious nomadic Fremen. But things have changed. Paul is no longer the boy he was a scant few weeks ago. His mother is pregnant with his sister, and Paul himself is out for blood. Taking up the ways of the Fremen, he soon becomes a warrior of unmatched skill, and more importantly, his mother makes sure that he fulfills the outline of Fremen prophecy of the Lisan al Gaib (which ironically was created and crafted by the same Bene Gesserit cult that his mother belongs to).

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But with great power, does come great responsibility, and despite his sudden rise to Fremen royalty, Paul is still hesitant and beset by dreams of a great Jihad that he will lead if he takes up the mantle of the Lisan al Gaib. Attempting to circumvent his fate, he avoids going deeper into the south of Arrakis to the leaders of the Fremen, but instead wages a small Guerilla war against the Harkonnens. But the longer and longer he stretches out his fate, the more and more certain it is that he will soon have to fulfill it, thus unleashing a horrific Jihad upon the entire galaxy in order for him to save Arrakis and all of mankind as Emperor.

Honestly, I’m floored by how good of a job Villeneueve did. “Dune” is NOT an easy book to bring to the silver screen. It is incredibly dense, incredibly bizarre, and deals with themes that are antithetical to most hero stories. If you’ve read the books you know that Paul himself isn’t really a hero. In fact, Herbert was using him as an example of how dangerous it is to follow charismatic leaders without caution. Something he ironically failed at in the first book, and notoriously used the next two sequels to showcase how Paul had to become a monster in order to save humanity, but humanity still suffered BECAUSE of him being a monster. Something that Villeneuve actually is able to get across in the film.

One of the main ways that he is able to get that across to the viewer is by changing a few characters rather dramatically, the first and foremost being Chani (Zendaya). In the novels Chani is Paul’s biggest cheerleader and acts as Paul’s voice in the book. Here she is more of a foil to him, and instead of being his adoring consort (the concubine who would be seen as wife) she recognizes and hates the monster that Paul is becoming. At first I (and many others) despised how unlikable they made Chani here. She wasn’t the same Chani from the books and previous films who loved and adored Paul no matter the consequences. But after viewing both films a few times I sort of understand WHY Denis did what he did with her. Much like Herbert, if he left her as Paul’s biggest cheerleader, audiences would be lulled into thinking that Paul is the hero that he seems to be. In order to get the point across that Paul’s Jihad was NOT a great thing, and that Paul was heading down the path of becoming an unfortunate monster, he used her as his conscience. Her reaction of disgust and pain as Paul turns his back on her idealistic ways and towards that of a politician gives the viewer and outlet to recognize Paul’s fading humanity. Kind of like Thanos in The Avengers having his back story drastically altered. It may not be comic/book accurate, but it allows the story to progress more naturally and gets Herbert’s actual intentions across in a way that works on the big screen, even if that means altering a fundamental character in the book.

Dune and Dune: Part Two did what I didn’t think was possible. Bring hope and life back to Hollywood after a 4 year period of under performing tent poles and a severely over bloated Super Hero fatigue. They may not be PERFECT if you’re a “Dune” snob like I am, but I heartily enjoy both films and hail them as some of the best and iconic representations of them on the big screen ever. Not only that, but Warner has made absolute demo discs out of both films and given us some amazing 4K experiences. Word in the film community is that Villenueve has been given carte blanche to finish off Paul’s story with Dune Messiah (which is actually a good thing. Trying to adapt the later books would be hilariously fun. I can only imagine them TRYING to portray God Emperor Dune on film and having audiences wonder what sort of crack Hollywood was on) and we get to look forward to the massive conclusion sometime in the next few years.




Rating:

Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, some suggestive material and brief strong language.




4K Video: :5stars:
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Good grief. Following in the footsteps of Part One, Part Two is an absolute beast of a 4K UHD presentation. Shot using digital cameras and given a 4K master before being put on a BD-100, the film is GORGEOUS to behold in 4K. The film changes up the visual aesthetics a bit, adding in multiple layers as it jumps from the sepia and orange of Arrakis, to the Black and white contrast of the Harkonnen home world, down to the gray sandy pits of the Fremen homes. All of this is punctuated by striking blue spice filled eyes, the orange blast of an explosion, or the star blacks of the Bene Gesserit cloaks. This is just phenomenal all the way around, with great detail levels, and the Dolby Vision enhancements that create some of the silkiest blacks I have ever seen while maintaining shadow details. I wish I had been able to see the Blu-ray to compare against, but this is top tier demo worthy stuff and a great looking 2160p encode all around.








Audio: :5stars:
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Holy cow. I knew that we were in for a treat after my theatrical viewing of Dune: Part Two in theaters a few months back, and due to the fact that my friends who had pre-purchased the digital K-Scope version were absolutely raving about it, but it still brings chills down my spine listening to the Dolby Atmos track. The opening lines of the film with the Spice Navigators speaking (at least I assume it’s the navigators) lets you know that this is NOT going to be a timid track at all, and by goodness it most certainly is not. This is a rip roaring beast of a track that is beyond ferocious. Dialog is crisp and clear, laid back when necessary, but the film being so action centric this go around leaves very little down time for “quiet” sounding audio. The bass is absolutely punishing, rattling picture frames off the wall with the sand worm riding scene, and the end battle is beyond devestating. Laser blasts shake the walls as the Fremen take down spice crawlers, and the low end rumble with the Emperor’s ship landing is unbelievable. Surround usage is superb as well, literally slamming the listener into the center of a maelstrom of audio, with the sides, rears AND overheads getting copious amounts of discrete and ambient desert noises. I know I’m gushing, but this is one of the top 5 Atmos tracks of all time in my opinion.







Extras: :3stars:
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• Chakobsa Training
• Creating the Fremen World
• Finding the Worlds of Dune
• Buzz Around the New "Thopter"
• Worm-Riding
• Becoming Feyd
• A New Set of Threads
• Deeper into the Desert: The Sounds of the Dune











Final Score: :4.5stars:


Dune: Part Two is not utterly amazing, but it is so close to being perfect that I’m willing to give it a pass. Huge sci-fi epics were thought to have been a thing of the past, but I gladly watched all 2 hours and 46 minutes without ever looking at the clock once, and never regretted a moment. It’s filled with fantastic acting, great visuals, amazing action, and the only thing I have to whine about is that Warner is STILL not releasing their new release films in Combo packs. Other than that, thumbs up all the way across the board.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgard, Javier Bardem, Bill Skarsgard
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Written by: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English, Spanish, French DD 5.1, English DVS 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 166 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 14th, 2024
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Recommendation: Great Buy

 
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Michael Scott

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there was a small glitch with the audio section being a duplicate of the video write up, but that has been corrected.
 

Gerry Iaria

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Might have to get this on disc, great review :T :T
 

mechman

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Mine should be showing up any minute now! :T
 
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