When we did our initial review of Dune (2021) streaming on HBO Max we had a feeling the higher-quality bitrates from 4k Blu-ray would surpass the lower-bitrate streams. And it does. You can see by the comparison screen photo above there is more definition and separation derived from the 4k disc. The texture in Chani’s head wrap, her eyes and eyebrows, and fabric of her robe are all sharper. The streamed video, while the same 4k resolution, has a mushy quality to it by comparison.
The HEVC video from the 4k Blu-ray Disc on Dune jumps to almost 90Mbps at times, but typically stayed around the high 50 to 60Mbps range. This is much higher than what HBO Max or Apple TV 4k pushes. You’ll notice as the scenes change and demand for deeper color depth increases the bitrates go up, while in more monochromatic scenes the bit rates go down.
Dune on 4k Blu-ray has been encoded with the Dolby Vision spec, making the color rendering so much more than what you would find on non-HDR 4k of HD video. Of course, the 4k stream of Dune also offers DV, but with the higher bitrates there seems to be more depth. See the images of Duncan above — the top image from the 4k stream and bottom from the 4k disc. Notice how there appears to be more separation of Duncan’s arms in the disc image. Also notice the blue lights of the Harkonnen ship hold the brights a little better. And again, less compression in the 4k disc image.
Also look at the example of Dr. Liet-Kynes at about 58:50. This is a backlit shot so her face is flat in both the streaming and disc image. But, you can see in the disc video (middle image) there is more detail in her eyes and hair. The third still image is more calibrated. Although the TV tended to blow out the sky behind Dr. Liet-Kynes, the bottom image is probably a better exposure. Notice how the grain and compression is less noticable in the darker exposure.
This image of a spice harvester and ornithcopter on 4k Blu-ray shows the same improvement in separation over streaming. The details tend to stand out more. If you zoom in to the screen photo you’ll also see less “mushy” video than on the 4k disc.
As far as audio, both the 4k stream and 4k Blu-ray offer Dolby Atmos / TrueHD 7.1 at 48Khz. You might say the streaming audio sounds a little bit thinner than the 4k disc, but not by much. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is riveting in its sound design from Theo Green and music composition from Hans Zimmer. There wide dynamic range that can only be delivered with surround sound and a subwoofer to push those deep levels.
As we said in the previous review, Dune (2021) was meant for the big screen. But, it’s one movie you might consider upgrading your TV size for. Read the full 4k Blu-ray Review!