Dune Part One


I’m late to this movie, to be sure: its sequel is about to be released, and I’ve already bought a ticket to see that follow-up in 70mm IMAX—and now I wish I’d seen the original in that format. I won’t belabor this post with a wordy review. Suffice it to say that it’s an absolutely beautiful movie that hits it out of the park on all counts: casting, direction, art direction, score, everything.

Other than being only part one of a multipart movie—something I tend to dislike—Dune imparts the feeling of a galactic scale and convinces one that this is a story that indeed is worth the effort. That’s quite a feat, given that “Part One” is still almost three hours long (and Part Two will be a little longer than the first). Still, it’s all worth it, and this movie gets top marks from me.

Dune on Apple Vision Pro vs. Atmos-Powered Home Theater

I’d read reviews that Dune was a beautiful movie, and given that I never got the chance to see it in a proper theater, I bought the 4K Blu-ray Disc with plans for that to be how I watched it. But as the release of the Apple Vision Pro drew close, I figured it would be a good test for that device’s theater-like presentation.

I was right: Dune is beautiful on any screen, surely, but if one can’t see it in a real, premium theater, the Vision Pro is a great runner-up. As I said in my first impressions about it, the Vision Pro does a great job of making one feel like they’re watching a movie in a theater, with the exception of the sound. The Vision Pro sounds good with Apple’s AirPods Pro, but mere earbuds just can’t give you the grand sound that a good theater can.

So, I watched it again a second time, this time in my home theater. I have a nice—though not extreme by the standards of true home theater aficionados—setup.

My home theater has an Atmos arrangement with four height speakers (technically 5.1.4), powered by a AV receiver that’s good, but not the top of its line. The 65" LG OLED is a few years on now, but still provides a lovely, if small compared to the virtual screen in the Vision Pro, picture. But the sound just blows the Vision Pro out of the water, and I thoroughly enjoyed the second watching because of it. I mention the Atmos speakers in particular because, while I’ve generally been less impressed with the addition of height speakers in my home theater relative to other investments in its sound, the UHD Blu-ray disc of Dune has the best Atmos mix I’ve ever heard. The sound was exceptionally well designed, and the large set piece battles, the eerie score, and the desert storms all sound absolutely enveloping. It’s truly a treat, and must-own disc for any enthusiast.

The second viewing put an exclamation point on the impression I noted in the earlier article: Vision Pro needs a way to AirPlay its audio out to another device—perhaps an Apple TV or AirPlay-capable receiver—so the sound can make its way to a more capable sound system. If that feature were in place, I’d say that an actual theater would only be warranted for the most epic movies, and those with exceptional presentation, like the aforementioned 70mm IMAX arrangement. Given the sorry state of movie theaters these days, that might be justified ever more rarely. Let’s hope Apple makes it happen, perhaps in time for Dune Part Three.