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Dune: Part Two Is a Disc of Worms on 4K UHD

Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in Dune (Warner Bros.)

After amassing over $700 million at the worldwide box office, this year’s Dune: Part Two expanded the promise and impact from its 2021 opening chapter. The film has dominated the attention and chatter for the first half of 2024. The clear path it took for its multitudes of success have justified its delay from its previously-planned fall 2023 release due to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. Dune: Part Two’s next conquest is the home media market where it debuted on May 14th on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD formats. Film Obsessive received an advance copy of the 4K UHD for another edition of its “Off the Shelf” disc review series. 

THE FILM

(L-r) TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides and ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Paul and Chani in the desert looking at each other with blossoming love.
(L-R) TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides and ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Back in February, our own Jay Rohr reviewed Dune: Part Two for our site’s new release coverage. That’s the best refresher, but here’s a quick plot thumbnail. Dune: Part Two is directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Denis Villenueve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) and written by Jon Spaihts breaking up Frank Herbet’s massive seminal novel series. The sequel explores the mythic journey of Paul Atreides ( Timothée Chalamet ) on the lam with his mother (Rebecca Fergusson) as he unites with Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen led by Stilgar (Javier Bardem). Flexing substantial messianic control from prophecies of his impending greatness, Paul is on a path of revenge against the Harkonnen conspirators (chiefly led by  Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, and Austin Butler) who killed his father (Oscar Isaac) and destroyed his family’s dominance. 

Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee. The foreboding saber-rattling of Dune: Part Two is toweringly ornamented with some of the best technical and artistic production value you’re going to find from any major studio film. As with its 2021 predecessor, the Academy Award-honored departments for cinematographer, visual effects, sound, editing, score, and production design remain stupendously brilliant and applied to a more outdoor and kinetic picture than the first. Hans Zimmer’s exotic score in particular brings the serious energy to a fever pitch. Dune: Part Two is a more physical film, which elevated the necessary success required of the costume design department and the stunt team. Their work came ready to battle.

Digital Features

The digital-only special features for Dune: Part Two are a four-chapter set of “Filmbooks,” the featurette “An Ensemble for the Ages,” and two “Inside Dune” scene breakdown clips. The Filmbooks are follow-up offerings to ones Warner Bros. made for 2021’s Dune and are short-form social media videos describing setting and character establishment information. For this sequel, the Filmbooks are “House Corrino,” “The Reverend Mother,” “Water,” and “Lisan-al-Gaib.” The two “Inside Dune” portions examine the Spice Harvester attack and tout the Josh Brolin highlight of Gurney Hallaeck’s revenge scene.

“An Ensemble for the Ages” is a sizable 21-minute production documentary on the casting of the film. It was created in the usual fashion with montage footage of set work appearing in mute behind the narrating actors recounting their experiences later in pre-set interview chairs. While informative, there’s a scripted plainness to this format. Still, for its length, it counts as one of the longer production glimpses we get nowadays on a film like Dune: Part Two. “An Ensemble for the Ages” several of the Filmbooks are available on YouTube for those who didn’t purchase digital ownership and linked above.

The Disc

The cover art of Dune: Part Two
Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

The audio and video performance of the 4K UHD disc of Dune: Part Two is pristinely perfect. The video source is a 2160p UHD 4K transfer with Dolby Vision and deftly handles the challenges of murky blacks and drab desert textures found in the film. Despite films like that having several digital washes of color grading and palettes for their VFX, the contrasts and focus are excellent. The same can be said for the Dolby Atmos track on the audio side. In theaters, this movie was a boomer with its heavy sound effects and towering score. Not a decibel of that–including dialogue which has been muffled in other mixes of movies this size– is lost at home.

As for special features left for the separate 4K UHD and Blu-ray offerings (they are not packaged together as they have been in the past at Warner Bros.) away from the digital purchase are charted under the studio’s usual basic/plain menu structure. In saying “left” in the last sentence, it could be insinuated that eight production featurettes count as scraps more than honest meat for the physical media disc plate. Well, when eight could have been fifteen, there’s room to argue for disappointment. That is especially when none of them are longer than 13 minutes, compared to the beefy 21-minute “An Ensemble for the Ages” made exclusive on the digital side.

The eight included produced pieces include “Chakubsa Training” on the tumultuous learning of the created indigenous Arrakis language, which counts as the closest thing to comedy on this epic picture and disc. Building on character creation, the 8-minute “Becoming Feyd” centers on Austin Butler’s dramatic makeup work to transform into the sinister Feyd-Rautha. Also, “A New Set Of Threads” interviews the costume design team of Jacqueline West for their colossal work dressing a cast of hundreds for a very foreign look.

Denis Villeneuve prided himself on location shooting, which is celebrated on two featurettes, “Creating the Fremen World” and “Finding the Words of Dune.” Both are a testament to the unseen location scouts and managers who find the right nook-and-cranny or mega space to make the move look great. Another supporting ingredient to the film’s scope is its music. “Deeper Into The Desert: Sounds of Dune” features Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer delving into the creation and performance of the sequel’s unnerving score. That’s the longest chunk at 13 minutes of the bunch.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Denis Villeneuve Dune disc without geeking out over vehicles. While Dune: Part Two has far fewer landing/liftoff establishing shots of wondrous ships, this disc takes a 4-minute moment on “Buzz Around the New Thropter” to get under the shells and hoods of those sharp machines and the blend of effects to make them come to life. On the more organic side of vehicles, “Worm Riding” presents the much-deserved hype around the mechanical setups it took Dune: Part Two to put its actors and stunt people on the backs of gargantuan monsters. 

For the better part of the last two years across Warner Bros.’s 100th anniversary disc entries, the special features areas of their films have either been reduced from previous editions for catalog titles or thin to begin with for new releases. For Dune: Part Two, there’s an interesting split–a rare sidestep for the studio–of making some (in this case, about half) special features exclusive for the premium digital ownership consumers rather than equal inclusion on the physical discs. In an era of low buyer confidence in truly “owning” a digital purchase on the leading platforms out there like Amazon and Vudu, that kind of salesmanship move feels like bait for buyers hoping to not be set up for disappointment. Yet, with the increasing shrinkage of major brick-and-mortar stores carrying physical media, this perceived bait may become the new normal. That’s something this writer–and the spirit of the “Off the Shelf” series at Film Obsessive”– may never embrace with welcoming arms.

Written by Don Shanahan

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing here on Film Obsessive as the Editor-in-Chief and Content Supervisor for the film department. He also writes for his own website, Every Movie Has a Lesson. Don is one of the hosts of the Cinephile Hissy Fit Podcast on the Ruminations Radio Network and sponsored by Film Obsessive. As a school teacher by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Indie Critics and a voting member of the nationally-recognized Critics Choice Association, Online Film Critics Society, North American Film Critics Association, International Film Society Critics Association, Internet Film Critics Society, Online Film and TV Association, and the Celebrity Movie Awards.

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