Dune

Dune ★★★

I firmly believe that a movie, even part of a series, should stand on it's own. Meaning that it should be complete, it should tell a complete story. The first six Star Wars movies do this, and so do the three Lord of the Rings movies. The James Bond movies do this as well. Even if you need to watch The Fellowship of the Ring to know who and where the characters are, The Two Towers still has its own story strands that are tied up by the end and they pour right into Return of the King, so on and so forth. 

One of the main criticisms of the MCU nowadays is that each movie only sets up the next one, and you must have seen the previous 4-5 installments to understand what's happening. Avengers Endgame makes no fucking sense if you haven't seen the individual movies before it. Denis Villeneuve has been very critical of the MCU, rightly so, although I don't know if he's specifically criticized this interlocking format. Either way, it seems odd that he would take this approach in adapting one of the great "unadaptable" properties. This movie is incomplete. It does not feel like a complete story. It feels like one and a half acts. There are story threads that obviously won't make sense until Part 2, and I believe that Part 2 is still not a certainty. So why take that approach? Why take that risk?

Now let's talk about the actual movie! I see now why Villeneuve threw a fit about Dune being released on HBO Max - the epic vistas are about the only thing worth watching this for. Again, another very odd approach! Timmy C is unbelievably bad, zero conviction, completely emotionless. Oscar Isaac and Josh Brolin have nothing whatsoever to work with. Rebecca Ferguson has some interesting stuff to play with, and so does Jason Momoa, but neither of them endear themselves to the audience because everything is so god damned serious. Portentous without being grand, weird without being fun. This is not a fun movie. It is a slog. I can only take so many long, lingering shots of important items before I throw up my hands and wonder what it's all about. Zendaya is not an actor. Stellan Skarsgaard is, but there's no real character work. He's not scary or threatening. Javier Bardem has barely any screentime. Absolutely no one comes out of this unscathed. Except maybe David Dastmalchian

"I serve only one master. His name is shai-hulud."

Not enough worms, and they aren't grand enough. The combat shields are boring. You've heard one Hans Zimmer score, you've heard them all. We needed Roger Deakins: Blade Runner 2049 features similar bleak vistas but they looked beautiful. Nothing looks beautiful here. This is a boring movie. Even the fight scenes are drab and half-assed. Say what you will about Lynch's movie, but it's loaded with personality and and he fit the whole thing in one film. The blocky combat shields alone make Lynch's Dune better than this. It doesn't feel like a movie. It feels like a two and a half hour pitch for the second part. And that's no way to make a movie.

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