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DUNE (2021) Rapid fire Review

DUNE (2021) Okay. It’s late night and I’m in the beginning of an insomnia stretch.  After a few viewings of the new film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s DUNE directed by Denis Villeneuve on HBO MAX, I can finally sit here and review this bittersweet, epic of

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DUNE (2021)

Okay. It’s late night and I’m in the beginning of an insomnia stretch.  After a few viewings of the new film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s DUNE directed by Denis Villeneuve on HBO MAX, I can finally sit here and review this bittersweet, epic of an incomplete retelling.

So you’re thinking – “Is it good?”

Well, yes and kind of yes. See it is a very well made film. The visuals are magnificent. I’m serious, the visuals are magnificent. The cinematography by Greg Fraser (Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty) really does contribute to the world building and overall experience of this space opera about rival houses battling over dominion of the galaxy and the most precious resource to humanity the Spice Mélange.

House Atredeis and its patriarch Duke Leto Atreides, his concubine the Bene Gesereit Jessica and their son Paul Atreides have been gifted by the Emperor of the known Galaxy with the reins of Spice production on the only planet that produces it , the desert planet ARRAKIS. The previous overseers, House Harkonnen, were brutally industrialized and equally brutal on their workers. House Harkonnen’s base planet is Geidi Prime; a barren planet that earns its status in CHOAM with export made possible on the backs of slave labor. House Harkonnen is headed by the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
Duke Leto (Oscar Isaacs) from the very beginning is faced the obvious obstacle of being “fucked”. Meanwhile, the Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is busy preparing her son, PAUL (Timothée Chalamet) for his future as the leader of House Atreides. After a meeting with Bene Gesserit Gaius Helen Mohiam, she has to hasten her training of her son for dangers that lie ahead of him on the new world of Arrakis; dangers such as fulfilling Spice Production Quotas, gigantic Sandworms, attempting to build a relationship with the Fremen, and terror attacks by remnants of House Harkonnen.

The film compared to the previous adaptations – the 1984 David Lynch film and the 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries which in spite of a low budget wasn’t that bad. This film falls somewhere in-between.

The David Lynch film although deviated from the source material in many ways still tells a complete story; it just happens to be a bunch of exposition stuffed into two hours.

The television mini-series is the more complete translation of Herbert’s three books from Dune to Dune: Messiah and Children of Dune. The budget was lack luster and the costuming atrocious in the first 3 part DUNE mini-series but, Children of Dune the follow-up miniseries redeemed this years later. The special effects were primitive and resembled cut-scenes from a WING COMMANDER PC game. Paul Atreides was played by a noticeably older actor but, performed well.

The new film is a visual buffet of sound and images. It is marvelous. The casting was well executed and perfect. The film all just falls into place. The world building is without pretentions and paced so well. I love how technology is portrayed and the details and exposition are implied without being spoonfed to the viewer. Denis actually trust the audience to be intelligent and think about what they see, a quality that is lacking in 99% of Hollywood directors. But,….

The Negatives – The damn score is really distracting. There are times when I’m engaged with what is going on and salivating at the experience only to be thrown out of the movie by random throat singing and bagpipes in other scenes. The score is almost trash and self-indulgent. Hans Zimmer is accomplished and has delivered in his craft as a composer with films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Intersellar, The Dark Knight trilogy and Blade Runner 2049. Unfortunately, he falls short here. I tried watching the film for a second time but, couldn’t get passed the score. Finally it was the third try when I learned to just let it play and reexamine the film as it is.

Another negative is – The wait to see PART 2. I know the book is too much for one movie and the studio needed to be confident the franchise would turn a profit before signing off on a sequel. However, I do not understand why a script for a second film was done before or during filming. The film makers knew they wanted to finish the story. So why not have the second installment locked and in the chamber? It makes no sense to me. Now I have to wait two years for a DUNE part 2 of 2. This might’ve been okay back in the day when franchises like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter were built on frenzied fans lining up at theaters for every new movie. But, this is 2021 and audiences are accustomed to binge-watching and instant gratification. It all just seems like they jumped out the window to film and promote an incomplete film with no knowledge of if they’ll be able to finish it. Lucky for us the film performed very well this year, earning over $300 million dollars with part 2 already green lit and the director already being quoted in interviews as being interested in filming a third film based on Dune: Messiah and completing Paul Atreides story.

So far this film gets a hard 4.5 out of 5. Let’s see what they do next. Oh, wait Part 2 doesn’t premiere till late 2023 – Fcuk me right.

The spice is vital to space travel. The spice expands the mind. The Spice is life. The spice must flow. Keep your steps without rhythm and keep your finger on that damn REWIND button.

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A misanthropic fiction writer and pop culture killer, originally from NYC as well loiterer of the Philadelphia area. The author of a handful of spoken word albums. Member of the Jade Palace Guard; a collective of underground lo-fi artists. Creator and author of HAINESVILLE. Currently residing in Tucson, AZ.

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