In 1965, Frank Herbert published a novel called, “Dune.” The book is about a young man named, Paul Atreides born with special abilities is destined to protect the universe’s priceless resource during an ongoing struggle between his royal family and a dictator who wants full control of it. Dune became a hit spawning sequels, prequels, video games and a 1984 film adaptation directed by David Lynch. The aforementioned film earned negative reception and bombed at the box office. Overtime, it became a cult classic as David’s most divisive work. The novel inspired many epic sci-fi franchises including “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” “Halo,” “Gundam,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Matrix,” “Stargate” & “Mass Effect.”
Three Decades after David’s movie was released, Warner Bros or WB for short acquired the film/TV rights to produced the Dune series beginning with the first installment. Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) signed on to direct. An ensemble cast led by Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Zendaya & Javier Bardem. Due to the length of the book, Denis split the film into two parts taking cues from the 2017-2019 two-parter adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.” Originally intended for a Thanksgiving release in 2020, the film was delayed for one year, due to COVID-19. As part of WB’s business plan releasing their batch of movies until 2021 is over, Dune eventually came out ten days before Halloween 2021.
“Dune: Part One” is out in theaters and streaming on HBO Max simultaneously. It received positive reviews from critics, movie goers and streamers alike. So far, the film is making money at the box office. A follow up is currently in development along with an spin-off titled, “Dune: The Sisterhood” slated to stream in the future on HBO Max.
This review contains no crucial SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the book or seen both David Lynch’s version and the new one, feel free to read my non-spoiler article. Is Dune worth the wait? In the words of Shang from “Mulan.” “Let’s get down to business.”
Positive & Negative Elements
Positive: The Main Cast such as Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Zendaya & Javier Bardem all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
Denis Villeneuve did a good job directing. He also co-produced and co-wrote the film.
Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, A Star Is Born 2018) co-wrote the script.
Action Sequences are decent. Knife fight scenes are awesome.
Cinematography contains breathtaking shots of an immersive world that takes you on a journey. I haven’t seen a grand scope detailed camera trickery in a non-superhero movie since “Interstellar.”
Chemistry between Paul, his family and allies serve as the main highlight. His interactions with his close ones moves the story forward.
Costume Designs are authentic reflecting each character’s social class. They don’t look stupid like the Psychlos from “Battlefield Earth.”
Visual Effects are Class A bringing many aspects of the lore to life. Most notably, the sandworm. A massive improvement of the 1984 version.
Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar) orchestrated the music.
One character said, “The greater good.” Reminds me of that one scene from “Hot Fuzz.” Another character said, “What’s in the box.” A possible reference to “Seven.”
Primary Themes are Social Class, Destiny, Technology, Power, Control, Premonition & Adapting. Each one is handled maturely.
The Ending sets up part two.
Negative: If you’re new to Dune or not familiar with the franchise, you’re gonna be puzzled. When I did saw David Lynch’s version, I was literally scratching my head. Upon reading the book, I partially understood most of the complex lore. As if The Wachowkis co-wrote the script. Trust me, the books are more cluttered than “Cloud Atlas.” Both Dune & Cloud Atlas lacks the phrase “Get To The Point.” For many viewers having difficulty understanding a complicated subject. Christopher Nolan’s films managed to help viewers learn about hard stuff.
In some scenes, it’s hard to hear dialogue coming from characters whispering with the sound so dang loud. I was able to understand Tenet’s dialogue with less talking more action. Ever heard of the phrase, “Show Don’t Tell?”
The Pacing can be a drab at times. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll be miserably bored.
The Final Verdict: B-
Hear me out folks, upon watching Dune, it’s the most painfully average film since James Cameron’s “Avatar.” At first, I was gonna give it a C, but thanks to the technical aspects, performances and immersive universe, I’m giving it a B- for Denis and WB taking a big gamble to adapt a complex novel. At least it’s not an epic disappointment like “Boyhood.” Sorry fellas, I didn’t like the aforementioned 2014 film. If you’re a fan of the Dune series, you’ll be impressed. If you’re a casual movie goer with no knowledge of Dune, you’re gonna feel miserable. For me personally, I’m still puzzled after reading the book and watching the movie.
I’m setting my expectations to “Dune Part Two” & “Dune: The Sisterhood” super low.