What is it about?
This is the (second, I think) movie adaptation of the 1965 epic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. This review focuses on the movie’s adaptation points since I already reviewed the novel here.
I have not seen the 1984 movie adaptation so I would not be able to compare and contrast those two. I did, however, read the novel recently and would comment on the adaptation points.
The Good: In this 2021 movie adaptation, one could feel the director’s and the greater film’s respect for the original material. Since this is a movie, one would expect a lot of literary flair and poetry be lost, but the movie included some character narration to compromise, and convincingly building the Dune world visually made up for some of the lost magic that only words can fully manifest. Casting was awesome especially for the Atreides family. I was also impressed by the auditory and visual register of the cast actress for Reverend Mother Mohiam: Charlotte Rampling. Despite her short appearance, the gom jabbar scene was truly memorable and it accurately set the dark, eerie and mysterious tone for the story. Timothée Chalamet was the right choice for Paul Atreides. He has this certain melancholic gaze which properly coincides with his visions of the future, and his knowledge of the bloodbaths to come. The sandworms were brilliantly put in visual context especially their sheer size and unearthly appearance. There were astonishing level of visual detail in their appearances and encounters, especially the vibrations they create when they were about to surface from below the dunes. Their sharp and pointy teeth and their massive mouth were given justice by the film’s creators. Cinematography gave the spaceships and the sandworms a good sense of scale, but I felt like Dune as a planet was not properly presented as an entirety, like it was too visually zoomed-in already into the deserts.
The Bad: As what happens when reading the book first and then watching the movie: more often, the movie will suck. In this instance though, the movie did not suck, BUT it also did not soar high. The general impression it gave me was that it was short, despite already being 2.5 hours long. I guess it’s the natural tendency when you consume a thick-*ss book and then watch the story be told in visual form. So maybe that aspect isn’t supposed to be bad, plus, this is still business and I guess they had to conform to industry standards, otherwise, they’d run the risk of boring people by being too accurate with the material and say, having a 4 hour movie just for the first half of the saga. I had this expectation that there will be high-octane action scenes, but looking back, perhaps it’s not the film’s fault since it only presented what was already in the novel. The way the Sardaukar soldiers fell from their spaceships might have been scientifically accurate based on Dune’s size and gravitational force, but it still felt artificial for me, or at least anti-climactic from an action sequence perspective. Some people said it felt like a 2 hour preview for the actual story, and I agree, since story-wise it’s really cut in half. Could there have been a better way to divide or present the story in a way that won’t compromise the natural beat and rise to the story’s final climax? Maybe. As it is, though, I guess we just have to wait for part 2 and re-watch the entire thing in one sitting, and maybe, just maybe, that way of watching could produce a better viewing experience.
3 out of 5 stars
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