I’m Still Not Over ‘Dune’

Some are calling Dune a “masterpiece.” I cannot say it’s a masterpiece because as of right now, it’s incomplete. What I can say is it’s incredibly cinematic; a jaw-dropping achievement in the art of epic movie making. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a film with this much scale. A film designed for the biggest screen possible so the movie can absolutely overwhelm your senses for two and a half hours straight.

For the first hour of the film, I remember thinking to myself on many occasions, “This is fire.” After seeing the first film, which is handled with such wanton confusion despite its dizzying amount of exposition, I could see the similarities being ironed out, allowing for a much smoother process of a storyline. In fact, as I watched the film’s first half play out, the movie itself felt very much like a book happening onscreen.

The screenplay is phenomenal, moving along at its own pace as Villeneuve’s otherworldly vision of Dune came to life along with Hans Zimmer’s mesmerizing score that I’m listening to at this very moment while I write this.

Like I said before, this is no masterpiece but wow was I impressed. I found myself also appreciating it far more than the last three Star Wars movies (The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Rise of Skywalker.) Star Wars has become such a phenomenon that people have become lazy with the material, providing generic looks at a franchise that is, in essence, as epic as Dune. Filmmakers, however, have turned Star Wars into a joke; a tale for children with cool lightsabers that make awesome noises and the simply bland heroes-versus-villains tales that keep being told over and over again in unimaginative ways.

I miss looking at Star Wars and feeling like the directors actually care about giving us something epic to look at. Not just ideas that will be crafted into a wave of new toys (like the Sith Troopers) or a new ride at a Disney theme park (like Rise of the Resistance.)

I also haven’t been this blown away by a cast too. Despite the wave of A-listers that joined this movie they don’t feel out of place. In fact, Villeneuve gives them new lanes to shine in. He utilizes every actor for their personal strengths and uses them to perfection.

Oscar Isaac was positively regal as Duke Leto Atreides, a picture of royal perfection with his greying hair and beard but there’s a strength to him in his form perfectly illustrated in his awe-inducing armored wear. I found myself blown away by his performance and heck yeah I’m ready to see him play Moon Knight. Let’s go.

Dune's Rebecca Ferguson Explains Greatest Challenge Playing Lady Jessica

His mistress, Lady Jessica, is one part effortless beauty and one part terrifying strength. She’s motherly and compassionate but she’s also 100% bad*** as well. You feel for her, you’re kind of scared of her, but I was so so, so glad they got Rebecca Ferguson to play her. What a force of nature on the big screen.

Dune | Official Site | Gurney Halleck

Josh Brolin’s Gurney Halleck is also perfect. He’s stern and unforgivingly tough (kind of like Thanos) but there’s an underlying warmth to him. If I remember correctly from the 80s’ Dune, he survived the attack, meaning we’ll see him again in Part Two. I’m very happy about that.

Why people love 'Dune' fan-favorite Duncan Idaho

I absolutely loved Jason Momoa in this movie. He was funny, his brotherly love for Paul Atreides was felt in every scene they inhabited together, and yes, he was awesome. He felt like a powerhouse of a warrior, a loyal soldier all the way to his final breath.

If he could bring just a smidgeon of his performance as Duncan Idaho into his role as Aquaman, he will truly be one of the greatest superheroes ever brought to the big screen.

Dune-Sharon-Duncan-Brewster-as-Liet-Kynes-close-up – Donald Mowat

Sharon Duncan-Brewster is a phenomenal actress. I remember seeing her briefly in Rogue One as a senator and she instantly became my favorite senator. Her presence is magnetic and as a black woman with locks, seeing a character like her–a dark-skinned woman with hair that looks like mine–in a movie as epic as Dune is mesmerizing.

She graced every scene with such an unmovable power that you find yourself clinging to her every word. I want her to be in more top-tier movies because she is incredible and I hate that I’ve only seen her in two films. I loved her so much.

Stilgar throughout the years.: dune

Javier Bardem was simply powerful as Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen. He’s an imposing leader like you’d expect from a tribal chief of sorts and yet he’s definitely an ally you’d want alongside you in battle. I loved his presence in the film and I can’t wait to see more of him.

Dune Behind the Scenes: Creating Baron Harkonnen - Dune News Net

And then there are, of course, the villains, all of whom did a great job. Stellan Skarsgard was positively imposing as the Baron, Dave Bautista was a believable Harkonnen brute, and Dave Dastmalchian was great as the meek brains of the operation, Piter de Vries. Dastmalchian really is a chameleon of an actor. He can be a creepy psychopath in Prisoners, a hilarious member of the criminal crew in the Ant-Man movies, a polka-dotted weirdo superhero in The Suicide Squad, and now he’s an almost unrecognizable villain in Dune. He’s an underrated actor for sure.

And then, of course, there are the two stars of this story, Paul Atreides and Chani.

Dune Universe on Twitter: "Incredible Chani @Zendaya #DuneTrailer  #DuneMovie… "

Zendaya’s Chani is far more powerful than the 80s’ version we got who was nothing but a kissing vessel for Paul. In this film, she’s both mesmerizing in Paul’s cryptic visions but in person she’s as fierce as the rocky landscapes she inhabits. There’s an undoubted warmth to her, like most of the characters in this story, but Villeneuve handles her as an equal to Paul. If anything, she is the driving force of the story; a mysterious girl whose hypnotic blue eyes pierce into your very soul.

Getting Zendaya to play her was perfect casting. She’s like a beautiful sand princess straight out of a fairy tale and it’s amazing!

Denis Villenueve's Dune has been pushed back to October 2021 | Dazed

And then there’s Timothee Chalamet who, before the film, I was the most skeptical about in this film. Yes, he had the looks of a prince but did he have the presence of one destined for greatness? Yes. He. Did!

He blew me away with his performance as the reluctant hero who is destined to be the savior of the Fremen and one of the greatest warriors ever known in the universe as he eventually takes on the unseen Emperor. He’s riddled by strange visions that leave him, at times, incapacitated or wracked with a sense of quiet dread. At other times you can see his power, gifted by his mother and father in abundance. He may be a hero that we’ve seen before in plenty of other stories but he’s a welcome one and I am ready to pump my fist in the air when he truly becomes the Chosen One, Muad’dib.

And there’s my extended love for the cast put together so lovingly by Denis Villeneuve who clearly understood the assignment and passed with flying colors. Now I’m just waiting for that Part Two announcement which I wish was coming out next year. Danggit!

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a fantastic day.

(Oh, and by the way, this is Hans Zimmer’s best score since Interstellar, no doubt.)

14 thoughts on “I’m Still Not Over ‘Dune’”

      1. Knowing the book and having watched both previous versions, I was all set for the rest of the movie, I didn’t even realize that 2 1/2 hours had passed.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I give it the highest star-rating on the scale. I knew nothing of Dune going in. Never read the book or saw the other productions. I only knew it was often cited as an influence for Star Wars, which was already evident from the trailers.

    I was happy to see that the movie was another entry in a steady line of serious, mature sci-fi films that we’ve been getting for at least ten years now. The movie was a perfect marriage of spectacle to subtlety. The temptation must have been great to put in all kinds of crowd-pleasing special effects money shots and cheer-worthy moments. But never once did the filmmakers include anything that would distract from the story they were telling. Yes, that made the film feel cold and distant, but it also made it feel like a historical document from the future, completely believable and of momentous significance.

    I was actually surprised at just how much did happen in the film, considering how many people were saying it was incomplete and inconclusive. As viewers now, the story was quite conclusive for certain characters. And I thought the amount of story we got, and the point at which it ended made the movie feel very satisfying. A lot of foreshadowing had been put in place that got answered by the end. This was a perfect chapter break.

    I definitely agree with your assessment of the others. Among a lot of familiar faces, Sharon Duncan-Brewster felt like a real discovery. She played her scenes just right to develop her character’s way through some important reveals. I think Timothée Chalamet had the perfect look and presence for someone who you needed to be uncertain about whether he would choose the hero’s path or not, and whether he would succeed at it. He was focused, yet, uncertain. Rebecca Ferguson is almost too lovely to not be a distraction, especially with her freckles on full display here. But, just as she showed in M:I Rogue Nation, she makes for a fantastic mystery woman who can move from warm to cold effortlessly, and show that she cares about you even while harboring secrets deep inside. Zendaya truly looked like a daughter of the desert.

    Definitely a lot of things reminded me of Star Wars…the teeth coming up out of the desert, the turning off of the ship engine in response to a disembodied voice, the tribal people who are looking for a god to worship, the spice mines, and so on. But this aimed for a drastically different tone from Star Wars, and certainly achieved it. I’m very eager to see the rest of the story.

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    1. Yes. ‘Dune’ is magnificent in every sense of the word. It’s cinema the way cinema is meant to be handled; artful, comprehensible, and powerful. It’s the perfect first part and because I know what happens next I can totally promise you, “This is just the beginning.”

      I’m glad you liked it!

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      1. Yes, oops, I had some typos in there because I was falling asleep as I wrote it. It just occurred to me that the graboids in 1990’s Tremors must also have been directly inspired by the sandworms. I can imagine the new Dune movie might’ve been even more impactful if so many of the ideas in it hadn’t already been recycled by newer science-fiction. But my mindset is that I’m seeing the original incarnation of many of these ideas dramatized fifty years later, which makes it fascinating for its historical relationship to the genre overall. If anything’s dated in the movie it’s the spice and its associated hallucinations. This is straight out of the obsession with psychedelic drugs that arose in the 1960s.

        I think we’re lucky part 2 is happening. This is the same company that has declined to let Zack Snyder continue the Snyderverse, with his similarly serious and solemn take on superheroes, despite BVS making over $800 million and the Snyder cut being well-received. Dune had a good opening weekend but the second weekend drop was pretty steep, which has been typical for HBO Max releases. Depending on how you count, this movie seems unlikely to do much better than breaking even. So WB made the right decision to support the sequel on the basis of artistic integrity, but the decision makes it more puzzling why they’re walking away from the Snyderverse. And this is even after Denis published a scathing editorial against WB about the HBO Max release. I guess Zack has to insult their intelligence in the press to get any recognition.

        It does seem clear that Dune will have long-term value in WB’s back catalog as so many critically acclaimed sci-fi films tend to have a long life and not be forgotten. I feel like some of the audience is so attuned to easy, sensationalistic entertainment that they’re misjudging this movie. It’s not trying to provide Flash Gordon-like comic book adventure. It’s trying to be an epic drama. The marketing and cast choices may have misled some viewers about what it really is. I certainly hope Part 2 lives up to the quality of this one. Taken together, they may become must-sees for sci-fi aficionados for decades to come.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Because the Snyderverse is a mess that has somehow been mystified into legend. If you remember, Batman vs. Superman’s theatrical release was regarded very poorly, Man of Steel got mediocre reviews when it first came out, and would his theatrical version of Justice League really have been that good if he hadn’t had years of insight and four hours to make his PERFECT version of the film?

        Villeneuve has a track record of incredible films and now Dune has managed to wow both critics and fans. That’s why they’re willing to give him a sequel and not Snyder.

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      3. I just don’t know how poor we can consider a film that made over $800 million. The last Mission Impossible earned less than BVS and they proceeded to greenlight two sequels with its director. BVS created enough of a fan base that it resulted in the Snyder Cut movement to fix Justice League.

        As for the reviews, when did that start mattering to a studio? The Pirates and Transformers movies got bad reviews after the first ones, and they kept making sequels that kept grossing big bucks, at least for 3 or 4 more movies. And once the extended cut of BVS hit home video, it seemed to get better reviews with critics who took a second look. And then Zack’s JL got good reviews. So the initial bad reviews on both BVS and JL were partly attributable to the studio’s interference.

        The area of the DCEU that is branching off of Zack’s work and using the actors he cast, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, is doing much better than the “Suicide Squad trilogy” which Zack had little to do with. Shazam and The Suicide Squad got great reviews, but their box office didn’t come close to Man of Steel or BVS. Of course, the Dune situation is different, and the DC situation has other complications, but it’s very clear that they could have retained Snyder to do something under the DC banner if they wanted to, but they let him go.

        From a Deadline article on 10/21, WB exec Ann Sarnoff said “Anytime Lana (Wachowski) wants to make a movie, we’re all in.”

        Keep in mind the Wachowskis got mixed results on their Matrix sequels, and have only directed three movies, all money losers since then, Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending. And while I’m glad they get another chance, and I’m all in on WB supporting Villeneuve, there’s no reason they should have let Snyder go. There’s also a reason Chris Nolan left WB to do his next movie somewhere else. There are serious problems with their judgment, leadership and wisdom.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I Think Jodie Comer, Anya Taylor-Joy, Phoebe Dynevor, Samara Weaving, Emma Corrin all are great choice as Princess Irulan Corrino In Dune 2

    Like

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