Dune ★★★½

Denis Villeneuve has done the impossible: he made a Dune adaptation that is both comprehensible to a general audience, is interesting to watch and never drags, and is true to the source material. For that, regardless of the things I support and criticize in this film, I must commend him for that.

Villeneuve clearly has a real passion for this source material and it shows in just about everything. The war setpieces are grandiose and gigantic in scale, and there's no shying away from the larger allegories of Islam and colonialism at all. This was unbelievable to watch in IMAX, it was 100% made for the cinema and to be witnessed as spectacle.

Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgard, all bring their best to this film and it's wonderful to see the characters of Dune actually have character and be played by actors who are actually excited to be there. It's such a minor thing to bring forward, but in contrast to other Dune adaptations that skirt on people to focus on plot complexity, this is admirable.

Still, I do wish that the weirder, otherworldly aspects that made David Lynch's Dune charming were retained here, even if I acknowledge that sacrifices have to be made so that this has any box office potential at all. I also wish that maybe someone other than Chalamet had been chosen to play Paul, but also I can't think of anyone else to be fair to Villeneuve. There are also inherent problems with adapting source material this vast and complex and I wish Villeneuve had taken just a bit more time to explain some of the concepts, but it's not movie-breaking levels of non-explanation that Lynch's had.

All in all, my criticisms are qualified because I believe that Villeneuve has a vision. This is prologue. Part 2, I have no doubt in my mind will be incredible with everything that was set up here.

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