A Review of Dune

But I haven’t Seen the 1984 Movie or Read the Book

Dune+had+a+hybrid+release%2C+also+premiering+on+HBO+Max.+Regardless%2C+its+box+office+earnings+have+been+good.+

Graphic by Brandon Ramirez for El Paisano Media

Dune had a hybrid release, also premiering on HBO Max. Regardless, it’s box office earnings have been good.

Unprepared

Dune: Noun, a mound or ridge of sand or other loose sediment formed by the wind, especially on the sea coast or in a desert. An incredibly fitting title given a large part of this film takes place on a planet that would make Tatooine blush. Dune 2021, directed by Denis Villenueve, is based on the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert. It’s part 1 of 2, probably. It follows Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), son of House Atreides’ lord. The plot beyond this isn’t exactly hard to explain, even with spoilers. But, there is a lot going on in the film and it drops you right into the thick of it.

Having no prior knowledge of Dune (I didn’t even see the trailers), I didn’t know what to expect when the lights dimmed in the IMAX theater I saw the movie in. The two and a half hour experience starts with a brief explanation of the world state. It’s far from an exposition dump but gives us just enough information to understand what’s going on. Then, we’re immediately dropped into a beautiful and alien futuristic world. Tech is oddly analog, and somewhat expectedly society has reverted to feudalism. But this isn’t exactly Star Wars. 

Hypnotic Setting

I was pulled into the film from the start. The world of Dune was fascinating and distant from our world, but all the same carried perverse echoes of our societies and cultures. The setting was sterile but lived in, and every bit of dialogue introduces you to some aspect of the world. The visuals are stunning too. Everything is expressive in some way of either the culture of a particular planet or intended emotion of a scene. To this point one of the things done masterfully by the film is scale. 

Whenever a ship is shown, it’s shown near something. The massive transports are always shown planetside with tiny (closer to skyscraper size) ships coming off it. When the giant sandworm is introduced we see it swallow a huge vehicle like a vitamin. The tech of Dune is oddly analog. There’s no androids or A.I, but after some research I found out it’s because A.I is outlawed in the Dune universe. The idea that there was more lore and information to the film blew my mind. 

Mostly, because Dune Part 1 feels like a part one. There’s no real three act structure. Really, it feels a lot like a prologue. I feel like this might put off a lot of people, especially because of the length of the film. But for a sci-fi nerd like me, it was awesome. Here’s hoping part two actually gets approved.

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