Dune (2021) – Movie Review

Dune has been one of the most hyped movies of the year with huge press and marketing leading up to its release. Now, it was a faithful adaption of the novel or at least the most faithful adaptation from a book that I have seen in recent years. However, it was not a good movie. It was a beautiful film, but it didn’t work.

When it comes to book to movie adaptations there is always a hope that the it is a detailed and exact translation from page to screen. In Dune, the book, so much in terms of the worlds themselves was left up to the imagination in visuals the function only was described. The movie did a beautiful job bringing the world, the people, and technology into a visual format. It did a great job maintaining the relationships especially between Paul and the main adults in his life (Leto, Jessica, and Duncan). Some of the dialogue was lifted straight out, which was very exciting.

However, so many of the genuine story elements felt compromised for the grand feelings and the world building visuals. There are three main story lines in the plot of Dune: the coming of the Kwisatz Haderach, the fall of the House of Atreides, and the control of Arrakis and the Spice there. Several of these plot points involve tension leading up to them because there is quite a lot conspiracy and tension. I found that we were largely missing that information and it let the tension go turning it from a political space drama to an adventure colonialism story. Now I really liked the explicit colonization framing, but I was really missing the intrigue of the Emperor’s plan, the foreshadowing of the betrayal, and the importance of the spice trade (they cannot give Arrakis up and still function as an empire). They also stopped the story half way through. None of the story arcs were complete! Only the fall of the house of Atreides hit it’s climax but everything else was unfinished. Not even to a clear transitional point, just stopped. I can understand that they want a sequel and to turn it to a film series, but it left a very unsatisfying taste in my mouth.

Ultimately, I do want more adaptions to get this budget and I think it is clear the filmmakers know Dune well. However, I was missing a lot of story elements that make watching movies engaging and make Dune specifically fun to be in.

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