Dune

Dune

As a committed Dunehead (I've read the book several times), my main feeling watching this was "wow, they actually did it."

While not every plot and character detail survives the transition from book to screen — and, crucially, it's only half of the book — Villeneuve "gets" the source material and has the patience, budget, and commitment from his actors to translate it to a shockingly watchable movie.

Just a few details of things I liked/notice

-- There's nothing Villeneuve likes more than showing a very strange looking space or aircraft taking off and landing.

-- Rebecca Ferguson is just fantastic. This is not a case of the filmmakers straining at the original text to create a "strong female character," but instead them emphasizing at what's already there. For most of the stretch of the book the movie covers, Jessica really is more powerful than Paul and has to face a wrenching conflict between her familal obligations and her obligations to her order of intergalactic eugenicist spacenuns.

-- Speaking of eugenicist spacenuns, they really didn't shy away from the most 2021 iffy portion of the book: that Paul is the result of thousands of years of directed breeding that worked alongside seeding a supposedly native, islam-like religion on Arrakis so that someone like him would eventually be recognized as the messiah. What makes Dune such a fruitful text is not that it complies with a 2021 view of how these things "should" be portrayed, but that its own vision is very thoughtfully constructed.

-- There's necessarily a ton of exposition and, at least to me, it's handled relatively smoothly, but ones mileage may vary, Paul and Jessica look pretty silly doing their "desert walk," and maybe Duke Leto didn't need to say "desert power" so many times.

-- Back to the spaceships, what's so striking about Dune is the scale: the buildings, the cities, the natural environment, the music. Everything is both huge on its own and striking in its size in relation to each other.

-- The casting is just fantastic. It's kinda funny how Zendaya-forward the promotion is, because the long haired, mixed-race beauty that Chalamet has the deepest and most affectionate physical relationship with in this movie at least is Jason Momoa's Duncan Idaho, his combat instructor and all around Atreides-aligned badass. Josh Brolin's chin also puts in a fine perfomrance.

MatthewZeitlin liked this review