Dune (1984) | Limited Edition | 4K Blu-ray Review

While, focus is on the upcoming remake of the 1984 classic, Arrow has decided to focus its attention on the original. With several releases on the shelves, today we are looking at their Limited Edition 4K release of Dune. Does this release carry its weight in Spice? Let’s dig in to find out.

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Cover art fir Arrow Video’s limited edition 4K release of Dune

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-100)
Blu-ray – Bonus Materials (BD-50)
Released By:Arrow Video
Release Date:August 31st, 2021
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
Native 4K, 2160/24p 
(3280 x 2160 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K from 35mm negatives
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):Dolby Vision (MEL), HDR10
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K): DTS-HD MA 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), DTS-HD MA 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Subtitles:English SDH
Packaging:Dual disc snap case
Rigid slipcover
Art Cards

*Slipcover likely only be available on limited edition pressing
Region Coding:4K: Region-free

Video Review:

While Arrow has a history of strong transfers in their releases, this particular transfer is actually licensed from Koch Media (Germany). The transfer is very good, bringing out details and textures throughout the film. Given the large number of special effects in this film, the filming style sometimes works against the sharpest of transfers. As many scenes used miniature and compositing, sometimes the edge of scenes can be a bit soft due to the nature of how they are captured in camera. This is not the fault of the transfer and is based on what is available from the original production process. The fine details your would expect to see on people’s costumes, hair and skin textures, are all present and well handled. 

This was shot on film and does contain a layer of film grain throughout. In some scenes it does become heavier, but not to the point where it becomes distracting. The film grain that is present is well formed and not blotchy.

From a color perspective, this does come with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 color grading. There is very little difference between the two, and only the closest of inspections would pick up the subtle differences. That said, what is present does a nice job of keeping the film looking natural. They did not choose to amp up the colors, which was the right decision. The color palette itself is a little cooler than the older Universal release and as a result, to my eye looks more natural and organic. Back levels are handled well in most scenes, but there are definitely some areas where they appear crushed (possible from the original source and filming techniques). Specular highlights are present and well handled, but for brightness overall, nothing on the screen is going to make you squint.

As noted, this 4K release does not contain a standard 1080p Blu-ray, but it is available from Arrow on its own. While not reviewed here, it does come from this same master so from a detail perspective it should be high quality for that resolution, however it is possible the handling of color may differ due to the different grading process used for the 8-bit color depth.

Video Score (4K): 4.4 / 5

Audio Review:

This release contains two DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, the first in 2.0 Stereo and the second in Surround 5.1. Both tracks have clean, clear dialog even with a lot of additional sound effects and musical scoring in full effect. 

From a personal preference, I actually enjoyed the stereo mix over the surround. It was strong and accurate, while still presenting a wide soundstage up front. The 5.1 mix does sound very similar, if not the same to the mix presented on the older Universal Pictures Blu-ray release. The surround mix adds some additional spaciousness, and very mild effects, with some moments sounding too bright. Overall it was not a massive improvement in experience, with the stereo mix sounding more robust in its presentation.

From a bass standpoint, I found both mixes to be competent and engaging, but certainly not a disc to show off your subwoofers. That said, given the totality of the mix, the bass and LFE content is appropriate for the vintage of this movie.

Bass and LFE effects were strong where they needed to be, but not overpowering. The sound of a thunderous knocking on a door, or the low-end rumble as Sam is pulled by a mysterious force up the stairs, absolutely enrich the experience of watching this film. Could it have been stronger? Yes, but not not much more without starting to become distracting. 

Audio Score (4K): 4.0 / 5

Special Features and Packaging:

It would not be a proper limited edition release without top notch bonus features and packaging. As is the case for most limited edition releases, second to the movie presentation are the special features. Arrow put together a nice collection of special features, both on the discs and physically in the case.

Contents of the Limited Edition packaging

Now that we have talked about the tangible special features, the pile gets deeper as you jump onto the discs. Across both discs you will find numerous, and new, interviews with actors,

On the 4K disc and stretching onto the included bonus Blu-ray, this includes a series of in depth featurettes covering everything from the costumes, effects, scoring, merchandising and more. They also include interviews, deleted scenes and two commentary tracks from film expert Mike White and film historian and documentarian, Paul M. Sammon. 

On the packaging front, this is much what you would expect from Arrow’s releases. It includes a great looking rigid slipcover with custom art, all wrapped around a 2-disc plastic snap case with reversible cover art, a book with all sorts of essays, images and added content, art cards and a reversible poster. 

Overall a very nicely put together package for any fan of the film.

Features Score: 4.8 / 5


From a visual and audio stand point, this is a nicely presented version of the film. And it is by far the best way to see it released to date (of this version, not the handful of other cuts). That said, you are paying a premium for this set and so with that comes a level of personal justification that you will have to employ. If you don’t own the film, only want the 4K, and like special features, this is a great version. But if you don’t care about the special features and packaging, while not announced, Arrow has been known to issue standard packaging editions not too long after the initial wave of limited/collector’s editions, which could save you a few bucks.

For super fans, there is also a Limited Deluxe steelbook edition coming out in October 2021 which includes an extra disc containing the 1080p version of the film so, if that is of interest, it may be better to wait.

Contents of the Limited Deluxe edition

Now if you already own the Universal Pictures release, which was really quite good, this is not a massive jump, but it definitely enhances the experience by direct comparison. So to upgrade would really be a matter of budget, desire for the special features and love for the film.

Buy Recommendation: Possibly… There may be a better option from the other releases

Upgrade Recommendation: Possibly… Depends on budget and desire for limited edition bonuses

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Summary and Overall Scores:

Arrow’s most recent limited edition release of Dune is a nicely put together package. The reason to pick this up is mostly going to come down to the special features.The video and audio quality, while good and an improvement over past Blu-rays, do not justify the premium price on their own. That said, for fans of the film and looking at the entire experience of this release, it is definitely worth strong consideration.

Experience Score**: 4.3 / 5 

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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