rdeleskie’s review published on Letterboxd:
After what seems like endless years of ersatz epics here’s one that features real filmmaking and directorial vision and that seems in a class with FOTR and Fury Road. I say this as someone who hasn’t always been a fan of DV.
It’s well written, avoiding almost all the pitfalls of the Lynch adaptation. Wonderfully cast and expertly rendered on screen. The world-building isn’t as showy as Lynch’s but I still found it effective, and crucially it manage a bit of strangeness and mystery. Villeneuve’s minimalist approach to production design really pays off here.
Some won’t like it. It takes itself very seriously, it’s a little airless and the plotting follows literary pacing and logic more than blockbuster beats. And it’s literally half a thing. It also never reaches the crazy heights or excesses of the Lynch version. The weakest part are Paul’s visions, which are depicted in a pedestrian fashion, to put it kindly. Villeneuve could have afforded to let loose a little here I think.
There’s plenty to say about how the film handles its themes of colonization and racial representation. Others have and will discuss this with greater authority than me, but I’m willing to see how thing play out in the second half (where things potentially get *really* dicey). But it feel thought has gone into these issues as opposed to hand waving. We’ll see.