Beyond fear, destiny awaits.
Dune (also known as Dune: Part One) is a 2021 science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve, written by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth, produced by Legendary Pictures, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on Frank Herbert's 1965 novel, Dune. The films stars Timothée Chalemet and Rebecca Ferguson. It was nominated for and won Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography, and was just nominated for Best Picture, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay. This is the first installment in the new Dune series, although the second Dune film. It was preceded by Dune and will be followed by Dune: Part Two.
"Dreams make good stories, but everything important happens while we're awake." -Duncan Idaho
When his family is granted control of Arrakis, the most dangerous planet in the universe, young Paul Atreides is excited to explore this new world. However, ruthless enemies threaten House Atreides as they come to Arrakis to harvest the most valuable resource in existence. Now, the future of Arrakis and of his family is in Paul's hands.
Beyond fear, destiny awaits.
Just as a point of reference, I have not read Dune. My only exposure to the world of Dune is the marketing campaign for this film. I haven't seen the 1984 film or the TV miniseries. This is my first time with the Dune universe. (The Dune-iverse? Come on. It's great.)
One of the coolest things about Dune was the sheer size of this story and universe. Star Wars is epic. Lord of the Rings is epic. And Dune is epic. It is telling this huge story that has sky high stakes and massive implications on the entire universe. I love stories with huge scale, and Dune is definitely one of those.
This movie is also incredibly complex. For the first half hour or so of the movie, I did not like that. I felt like it was a bit out of reach for me because I hadn't read the book, but as the story progressed, I was able to ease into the complicated politics and rich history of the Dune-iverse (I'm sticking with it). Dune expects a lot of the audience, but I appreciated that. It assumes that you are smart and can comprehend big loads of information. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get a feel for it, you can really absorb and understand the deep mythology of this universe.
Dune does have elements from other science fiction and fantasy films like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, but it also has an element that is grounded in reality. While walking out of the theater, my dad, brother and I were talking about the movie. My dad said it perfectly: Dune probably takes place in a universe where Earth exists or once existed. There's just a sense of realism in the film that I really appreciated. The blend of that with sci-fi fantasy worked extremely well.
The movie is also visually stunning. It's probably the best looking film of 2021. The shots are vibrant and beautiful. The set pieces are vivid and really sell the realistic nature of the movie. The costumes are amazing. I think that this movie has some of the best costumes in a movie...ever. They are so good. And really none of them look like they are CGI. Speaking of, the CGI in this movie is flawless. Sometimes I could not tell if something was a visual effect or not. That's how good it was.
This film also has one of the best scores in the past few years. Probably my favorite score from a film since Joker or Black Panther. Hans Zimmer just nails it with his scores. The music that accompanies the incredible cinematography just makes every shot better. This will definitely receive an Oscar nod and probably a win. I will be shocked if it doesn't.
And this film just has one of the best casts...ever. Pretty much everyone is a household name. From icons such as Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem to recent stars such as Jason Momoa, Zendaya, or Oscar Isaac to the up and comer himself, Timothée Chalemet, this film is just filled to the brim with great actors. They add another layer of greatness to this movie. I do not know how WB was able to get this good of a cast. The fact that we have a movie with all of these great actors in it just makes me grin ear to ear.
And, as I said before, this film has a deep, complicated, and very cool universe. There are three main groups: the House Atreides, the House Harkonnen, and the Fremen. They all represent different things: They are almost like Hogwarts houses: Atreides represents bravery and loyalty. Harkonnen represents power and cruelty. And the Fremen represent survival and desperation. These three legions have a very cool dynamic and a truly incredible relationship. You understand the vendettas that each of these houses have against each other and actions have motivations because these legions are established so well.
While Dune is a very cool movie, it's definitely not the most entertaining watch of 2021.
And the main reason for this is the ridiculously slow pace. For some people, this will not be a problem. But if you are impatient and want a ton of fast-paced action, Dune is not the movie for you. It spends it's time building out the characters and the Dune-iverse so that you get a fully fleshed out view of this world. But that all comes at the cost of a very, very slow movie. And I think even after everything is established, it remains slow. There is a big action sequence halfway through the movie that lasts about twenty minutes, but after that, the film moves at a snail-like pace. And it can be pretty frustrating because it feels like you've sat around for long enough and want to see some action.
Another thing right after that action sequence is the story transition. The story has a major shift after that part. The big action scene seems like it's meant to be the climax of this movie, which is a problem, because it ends and there's still at least an hour left in the film. The next hour just feels like a muddled epilogue to the climax. I can't say I really liked the second half of this movie. Since the conflict has been vanquished for now, there isn't any villain they have to defeat. There isn't really a story. The second half of this movie feels like it should be the first half of Dune: Part Two. It's just a weird structure in my opinion.
Now, my next issue is not really a fault of the film. I can't blame this movie for killing off a bunch of characters. Because I'm sure that it happens in the book. And the movie has to stay faithful to the source material. But there are a lot of instances where we are introduced to a likable, interesting character...only to have them killed off relatively quickly. And that got frustrating, because I really would've liked to have seen more of those certain characters.
Finally, Dune is a very long movie. And since the second half crawls through the story, it feels much longer than it is. It's already a two and a half hour movie, but it feels like it's at least three hours long. Once again, that second half just bogs the movie down. It's a bit disappointing, because I really did love the first half. But that second half was just not good. And it feels like it goes on forever.
Should you go see Dune?
Yeah. Definitely. I know that I was complaining about the second half a lot, but this is still a good movie and by the end of the film, you want more from this universe. However, if you aren't able to deal with slow-paced movies or are not a sci-fi fan, Dune is not for you. Otherwise, this is a good movie.
And, if you can, go see this in the movie theater on the biggest screen possible. You won't get the same experience from watching it on HBO Max. Sure, it will still be enjoyable, but this the type of movie that is made for the movie theater.
First thing: I will do analogies for reviews when I want to. There are times where I force myself to come up with analogies, and I don't think they are very good. If I can easily compare it to something and feel confident about it, I will use an analogy in a review. But I will not be doing that for every single review.
Honestly, my liking of Dune will change when the sequel comes out. If part two is great, I will like this film better. If it sucks, I will probably like this film less.
But for now, it's a Savory. Age range is 11+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Fun Factor: 6.5/10
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action, disturbing images, minor sexual content, thematic elements
Released on October 22, 2021
2 hours and 35 minutes
Timothée Chalemet as Paul Atreides
Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides
Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho
Javier Bardem as Stilgar
Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck
Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Zendaya as Chani
Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet Kynes
Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat
Chang Chen as Dr. Wellington Yeuh
Dave Bautista as Rabban "The Beast" Harkonnen
David Dastmalchian as Piter de Vries
Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Mohiam
Babs Olusanmokun as Jamis