Dune is pretty good. It has everything that makes a movie good. Good actors. Good sets. Good design. Good camera work. Good tone. Good writing. Everything is good. But it leaves a lot riding on the sequel to complete itself.
Denis Villeneuve is one of the few directors going that gets his movies automatically onto my radar regardless of the movie. Dune wasn’t high on my radar when I first heard about it but when I heard he was directing then I got on board. He doesn’t make bad movies.
I feel like he just asked a bunch of people to be in the movie and they agreed because he’s Denis Villeneuve and its Dune. You’re going to recognize just about every face in the movie, even if you don’t know their names. I don’t think there’s really a “no name” actor in this movie in any kind of starring role. It’s really quite impressive.
Cinematically the movie is shot excellently with big, wide shots to give you scale and size and weight and make this world feel large, lived in and old. There’s excellent use of light or the absence of it to move your focus around the screen to keep your attention. Every shot is deliberate and included for a reason. It’s real in the way a war movie would feel real from the big details to the small ones.
There’s something very 1980’s Star Wars-y to the design. Everything is a little bit dirty. We’re in the super far space future but you get that industrial bend to the way the spacecrafts are designed, the type of weaponry used and the architecture of buildings.
The plot is more of a Game of Thrones however: warring factions that want supremacy, different families vying for the emperor’s favour and power, betrayals and prophecy and stuff. We follow along with a Chosen One character that’s got a bit of a Gary Stu situation going on. This is where it’ll start to lose the audience.
I was pretty confused through the first hour but started to piece things back together as the movie went along. Give it the extra half hour, go full Lord Of The Rings. Explain everything so I can follow along a bit more. I normally complain about long movies, but that’s when they’re unnecessarily long and the pacing is ruined.
I’m still not totally 100% sure of everything that happened but at least I think that I think that I think I know what certain plot points, dialogue and whatnot all meant. I’m tempted to click on one of those extreme clickbait “EVERYTHING IN DUNE SPOILED AND EXPLAINED!” videos but I’ve held off so far.
On a re-watch the blanks would fill in, and probably even more so after Part Two. Oh, yeah this is a Part One movie. No idea when Part Two comes out other than it’s in development right now but they haven’t started shooting, so I guess it’ll be like 2024.
The Part One-ness of the movie might be the biggest drawback. The Fellowship Of The Ring feels like the movie is a contained story with a proper ending inside a larger story. Dune feels as if it ends on a mid-season cliffhanger like a TV show going into its Christmas break. Or more like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, where it very much ends in a way that feels like “Insert Disc 2” should appear on screen instead of end credits.
I don’t think it transcends over as must see cinema, yet. It’s a movie made for fans of the book, sci-fi nerds and cinephiles. My dad would be confused and bored while my mom would probably have as much grasp as I do – probably more. I know a few friends that would dig this and a few that would be bored stupid.
I liked it and want to see more and will see Dune Two but I also can’t strongly recommend Dune itself. Because it’s good, but it’s just good.