Lynch gathered a pretty spectacular cast for the film, including Patrick Stewart, Sean Young, Sian Phillips, Jurgen Prochnow, Virginia Madsen, Francesca Annis, Max Von Sydow, Dean Stockwell, Sting, and, for the first time, his muse, Kyle MacLachlan. They all do fine work, making sure everything feels as majestic and regal as it needs to. Of special note is Kenneth McMillan, who has certainly created one of the slimiest, nastiest villains on film with his portrayal of Baron Harkonnen. He gets that kind of squeeling, giddy, villainy precisely right. He's one of those villains you don't just love to hate, you thrill to hate him.
It's an unsteady movie. It should have been longer, the reliance on voice-over can be too much, there are moments where it truly is unpolished, and there are even a few somewhat unsettling political undercurrents running through the film. Mostly this has to do with the portrayal of the Harkonnen, particularly Baron Harkonnen. It's hinted that not only is he supremely evil, but also probably gay. The movie was made around the time when the AIDS crisis was beginning to become a large public concern, and having a film with a potentially gay villain who preys on young men and has lesions surrounding his face much like those seen on AIDS victims probably wasn't the most forward-thinking and progressive way to portray the character. But then again, I could just be reading a lot into this. He's an effective villain, regardless of his potential political problems.
The Blu-ray release is wonderful in its technical aspects. It has the original aspect ratio preserved in incredible 1080p. The more spectacular visual moments of the film truly stand out here. The movie has an extensive visual palette, with extraordinary bright colors and light displays coming up against deep, textured blacks. The large battle scenes and huge desert vistas are crisp, clear, and gorgeous. And for the makeup special effects freaks, every single oozing pustule on Baron Harkonnen's face comes through with stomach-churning clarity.
The audio is equally good. DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lets the sound come through extremely well. This is a movie to turn up and really let the audio take you somewhere. A major plot point is the Atreides' ability to turn sound into a weapon, so when the band of rebels starts blowing up all kinds of business with their "weirding" weapons or when Paul Atreides puts so much power behind his voice that he splits the ground beneath Sting at the film's finale, turn up the volume so you can feel that great bass rumble come through. Also, the awesomely bombastic score is by Toto with a theme by Brian Eno. You're going to want to hear it on the best audio you can, and the Blu-ray delivers pretty darn well.