- Directed by Denis Villeneuve
- September 3, 2021 (Venice) / October 21, 2021 (US)
The noble House Atreides is entrusted with the protection of Arrakis and the production of the spice which is vital to space travel, but political mechanizations by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV and an old feud with House Harkonnen threaten everything.
If you go into this Dune expecting a ton of action you will be disappointed. There certainly is a lot of talking in this movie. I am guessing about 95% of this film is dialogue. That is something most lavishly produced movies no longer do. They focus on spectacle over dialogue. Director Denis Villeneuve puts the emphasis on dialogue. While space opera, this is mature space opera.
Unfortunately Villeneuve skimps on character development. Villeneuve is reportedly a fan of the book, and my guess is his familiarity with the material caused him to not be a dispassionate observer before filming or writing. Somewhere in his mind he thinks motivations are clearly conveyed but it is his knowledge of the material tricking him. While you can understand the story and it is engaging, why the characters do what they do at points never comes across well. Often they do things just because.
The sandworms, which is what Dune is probably best known for with those familiar with it, barely get seen. I admit to wanting more sandworm action. They talked a great deal about them but you barely see any. And when you finally do see one it looks like a cat’s butthole. Seriously. Pucker up!
Despite extensive dialogue and only the briefest of action in comparison to the length of the film, this movie is very engaging. It holds your attention. It is a vast improvement over the David Lynch adaption of the story. That movie was a mess. While this is not perfect, it is head and shoulders above the ’84 version.
Visually the film is absolutely amazing. The few action scenes they have are absolutely stunning. This is one of those movies you could watch with the sound off and it would still be mesmerizing. Everything is just stunning. And the environments are immersive. From the sets to the costumes to the sound design, we have a thing of beauty here.
This version of Dune is an adaption of approximately the first half of the book Dune. I own at least two copies of that book and have read neither one of them, but those two copies are extremely thick. I can believe this is only half of the story. Barely believe but believe it nonetheless. Another clue to this being only half the story is that the movie just kind of stops. You are left expecting another scene and the credits roll.
And you know what despite having my chain yanked like that I want more. This version of Dune had great acting. I am very pleased with the story we have here so far. How these mechanizations and back dealings and royal politics play out had me hooked from the start. Who thought a story about people hallucinating on magic dust on a distant planet could be so good?
Dune attempts to be a literate Star Wars. Not that there is anything wrong with Star Wars but this is Star Wars for adults. Star Wars is a fun and visually stunning ride. This is a visually stunning and serious drama. Denis Villeneuve has a good eye for visual style. I was not crazy about his Blade Runner 2049 but here I think he just kills it. Not only is it visually appealing but as a whole film it is quite good despite the shortcomings in characterization.
I had my serious doubts about this version of Dune. This is the third version of the story put to film and I asked myself “Why?” but I must say you should probably take a look at this movie. It has quality special effects along with a great story.
Dune is a great film. It is an amazing movie that they need to make a sequel to. This is most certainly a watch it!