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Dune (2021) Review

My Cat Persephone Wrote this Review on her Smartphone. It was better than Mine. .

dune-2021-review

MPAA Rating

PG-13

Running Time

155 minutes

Director

Denis Villeneuve

Writers

Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth

Dune-troduction

Do you like sand, even if it’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere?

Do you like opened ended 150 minute adaptations of novels larger than engine blocks?

Do you like actor and parttime assassin Timothee Chalamet?

If you answered yes to all of these questions then it stands to reason you will like director Denis Villeneuve’s long awaited version of Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic.

In the 70s Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to adapt Dune. His failed attempt was turned into one 2014’s best documentaries, Jodorowsky’s Dune. You’re left to wonder what Jodorowsky would have done with the material, but the “If only” makes for a fascinating movie in its own right.

In 2000, there was a miniseries made which no one saw. I hadn’t heard of it until about 10 minutes before I began typing this up. Did any of you actually see it?

The internet says it did, so it must have.

And of course, the 1984 critical and box-office failure of David Lynch’s adaptation that causes Lynch PTSD every time you mention it. So don’t ever say the word to him even if the sound is embedded into another word (Brigadoon, cardoon, lardoon, bradoon). I don’t think it’s an absolutely terrible movie, even if the only thing you really remember is Sting in his underwear.

In 2021, after a year long delay due to the pandemic Dune is finally released in theaters and on HBO Max. Tiny Timothee Chalamet will not only have to fight the evil Harkonnens, but also a rampaging Michael Myers in Halloween Kills for box-office supremacy.

Better late than never? Sure.

DUNE-OPSIS

I have never read Frank Herbert’s thousand page novel because I’ve never made the time because it’s a thousand f*cking pages.

No. I figured I could read 2 500-page novels instead. Or 4 250-pages novels. Or 1000 1-page novels. So many options.

I say this because there are some of you like who have read the book and know a lot more about the world being conveyed. With a sprawling cast and multiple planets it’s easy to feel like a grain of sand in a giant dune, but we’ll do our best.

Let’s meet our friends on Arrakis. But if you didn’t know…

Everybody in this Universe is really into Spice. It’s more important than anything in the Universe and can only be found on planet Arrakis (AKA Dune). According to the internet, Spice expands consciousness, human lifespan, allows interstellar space travel, blocks unkind comments on message boards, helps give you great and plausible excuses to get out of gatherings you don’t want to go to, and lets you know which Marvel shows on Disney Plus you can skip and which ones you actually have to watch.

Spice is mined and cultivated by the Fremen, and yes they do get high off their own supply. But they can handle it. Well, some of them get addicted and die when they don’t get it and we feel bad for them. They’re seen as savages but they’re a really decent bunch of people with blue eyes.

He almost wore the pastel nose thingy but he had a feeling they should match today.

He almost wore the pastel nose thingy but he had a feeling they should match today.

Hopefully that’s enough of a primer, but if it’s not dune’t you worry.

Let’s meet-

  • Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet- Call Me By Your Name, part time International Assassin) – I think he’s supposed to be a teenager but he’s played by Timmy Chalamet who looks like a 20-something trying to pass as a teenager at a high school party but everyone know what’s up and you look like a creeper trying to talk to sophomores. Paul’s been having dreams about a girl on Arrakis, vivid dreams.
  • Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson- Doctor Sleep, Mission Impossible Fallout)- Jessica is Paul’s mother and part of a group of women called the Bene Gesserit. I think that’s important later but I’m not sure. She uses the Force, I mean, the Voice to get what she wants.
  • Duke “Jared” Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac)- Duke Leto is head of House Atreides and really wants to mine more Spice. He’s also Paul’s father and wears capes really well.
  • Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin- Avengers Infinity War)- Gurney acts like he’s Paul’s personal trainer but he probably has a more official sounding title.
  • Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa- Aquaman)- “Duncan Idaho” feels like something Frank Herbert made up while looking at 2 random objects in his house before writing. Other possible names were “Styrofoam Cup Paring Knife” and “California Extension Cord”. He does whatever Duke Leto tells him to do.

There are a lot more characters but I think these are the main protagonists.

dune-2021-review

The villains are from House Harkonnens and they’re led by the evil Baron Harkonnen (Stellan “Don’t Call Me Stella” Skarsgard) looking like Harvey Weinstein dipped in really cheap olive oil.

They all want the Spice. But an unseen Emperor sends House Atreides to help out the Fremen and you can bet things will go as well as can be expected.

Who will take control of this non-Spice girl controlled spice world?

What do Paul’s dreams mean?

You will only get some of these questions answered because this is only the first part of the Dune saga. Those familiar with the book can probably guess when in the story this will end.

Yeah, it’s really popular.

He almost wore the pastel colored clothing, but he had a feeling they should match today.

He almost wore the pastel colored clothing, but he had a feeling they should match today.

What Works With Dune

  • A sprawling cast filled with famous faces play archetypes instead of actual characters but most of them shine in limited screen time. You know Paul is the main character, but everyone gets at least one scene to chew.
  • Rebecca Ferguson is the only female character of note and she makes the best of it. She stole scenes as the villainous Rose the Hat in Doctor Sleep, but in Dune there’s a quieter strength about her which contrasts nicely as most of the male actors yell their lines.
  • A scene with Rebecca Ferguson, Chalamet, and “The Voice”.
  • Because he looks like a gust of wind could blow him over a railing, it does take you a while to actually believe that Timothee Chalamet could be a leader of people. I’ve always thought he’s a wonderful young actor, but it takes a full hour before you buy that he could lead a planet in a war.

What Doesn’t Work With Dune

  • Director/Co-writer Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049- pronounced Denis Villeneuve) obviously has great reverence for the source material, and it shows. But it also strains trying to justify a 2.5 hour running time. Just because the movie’s epic doesn’t mean it has to be epic in length. After seeing it, you realize DV could have shaved 30 minutes off and it would have been smoother and not stall the narrative at the worst time. Granted, it’s not Zack Snyder bloated but it was getting pretty close, especially if you know there’s going to be another movie.
  • Every 5 minutes someone screams, “Evil dies tonight!” We get it, angry mob. Sorry. That was Halloween Kills.
Totally looks like a person named "Duncan Idaho".

Totally looks like a person named "Duncan Idaho".

Overall

Dune is one of the best looking films of the year as Denis Villeneuve cements his hold as one of the premiere science fiction directors working today. Yes, it should have been shorter but don’t let that stop you from seeing it on the big screen. Though if you saw it on HBO Max you could pause and run to the bathroom for a “Spice break”.

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