I continue to be blow away by Denis Villeneuve, he is such a talented director and I think he has made five of the best films of the last eight years. To put it in perspective, Villeneuve has not made a movie since 2017 (Blade Runner 2049) and he was on a four-year run of Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. Villeneuve also had another movie in during that time called Enemy, it was also critically praised, but I was not a fan of the movie. I have never read Frank Herbert's novel Dune which the film is based on, but after being blown away by the film I am reading it now. Dune also had another film that was directed by David Lynch in 1984, I had never watched the original Dune but after getting home from the movie I started watching the 1984 version. I can say from watching the new Dune, started the 1984 version and started reading the book I get why some people might find the property confusing. I still do not fully understand the use of "spice" or the various groups (the Spacing Guild or the Bene Gesserit) importance. I think for some that lack of pandering will be a negative, but for me it has me looking for answers and being excited to learn more about the Dune universe. On of the things I enjoy about the Tolkien verse, the MCU, the DCEU and the Potterverse is the world building; I think Dune has a lot of that and that just calls to me. 

I understand that Dune is available on HBO Max as well as in theatres, but Dune similar to No Time to Die is a film made to watch with the best sound and biggest screen possible. I am still thoughtful of seeing it in Imax, the new Dune is a spectacle for the eyes and ears. The 1984 version of Dune just based on the first hour I watched is in plot similar but vastly different in tone and visual style. I can see why the 1984 Dune has become a cult classic; it has such a uniquely grotesque style that I can understand the appeal. The performance by actor Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen really stood out in his early scenes in the film. In Villeneuve's Dune, Baron Harkonnen was played by Stellan Skarsgard in much different way, I liked Skarsgard performance, but I can see the appeal of the grotesque performance. I'm reading the book now, but I am only near the beginning, so I am still finding my feel of the novel. I wanted to read the novel because I am so curious about the worldbuilding in both film versions that I am hoping to learn more. I am sure both films are faithful to the book, but as a Dune novice I found myself struggling with understanding things. My specific issues were with the Bene Gesserit, I did not what they are I feel they were referred to as witches. I found myself comparing them to the Jedi/Sith; they have knowledge before things happen and they can make people do what they want. The way our main character Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) in the fight towards the end suggested that he also an instinctual feel for combat and he is able to predict what his opponent will do. Atreides fighting style reminded me of the way Jedi fight, especially with his disinterest in killing. 


The film opens with an attack by the Fremen on the spice mining operation of the Harkonnen, the battle is quick, and we learn that the Emperor has taken Arrakis away from House Harkonnen and given the mining operations for spice to House Atreides. We shift to Caladan which is the home world of House Atreides as we witness an official ceremony in which representatives for the Emperor are officially giving the spice mining operations on Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides. Paul's mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is a member of the Bene Gesserit and even though she was instructed to produce a female heir by her order she gave the Duke the son he wanted. The decision to produce a male heir for house Atreides has caused friction for Lady Jessica, as the male heir has caused a shift in their plans. The Duke's son Paul is tested by the Reverend Mother (head of the Bene Gesserit order) who also serves the Emperor. The test is to determine if Paul who has been taught by his mother the ways of the Bene Gisserit can control his impulses which he does. The disturbs Paul as he overhears his mother and the Reverend Mother talking about him being the Kwisatz Haderach (a messianic figure). Paul is plagued by nightmares of Arrakis where he sees events that have yet to take place, Paul is further troubled with the weight of potentially being a savior, something he does not feel he is. 

Paul is tutored in combat by his friend Duncan Idaho (Jason Mamoa) and Gurney Hallack (Josh Brolin), Paul is capable but disinterested in combat. Duncan Idaho was sent by the Duke to Arrakis early to complete a secret mission to befriend the Fremen and arrange a meeting between them and the Duke. The Duke believes his house can be more powerful by working with the Fremen so that his house will be powerful in the sea, air and hopefully in the desert. The Duke though is being setup by the Emperor, the Emperor gave Arrakis to House Atreides so that they might be eliminated by House Harkonnen. The Emperor is scared of the power that House Atreides has acquired and is concerned by the rumors that the heir to House Atreides is the Kwisatz Haderach. The Emperor will lend some of his most capable soldiers to House Harkonnen in an effort to eliminate the Duke and his House. Upon arriving on Arrakis House Atreides has to deal with hidden Harkonnen spies as well as missing/damaged equipment that will make mining spice more difficult. The Duke meets with a leader of the Fremen named Stilgar (Javier Bardem), it is very brief but positive. 

Paul has dreamt of a woman Chani (Zendaya) who is a Fremen, his dreams are vague, but they leave Paul wondering why her. Paul has also dreamt about the death of his friend Duncan Idaho; Paul hopes that with the knowledge he has he can save Duncan. Paul accompanies his father and Dr. Liet Kynes to inspect a mining vessel, they watch from above as one of the giant sandworms that inhabit the desert approaches the mining vessel. The ship used to pick up and move the vessel malfunctions and the Duke intends to use his ships to rescue the crew of the vessel before the worm attacks. Paul exits the ship and gets the crew to safety, but while outside he is exposed to spice and starts to have more lucid visions that causes him collapse. Gurney Halleck rescues Paul before the worm arrives and eats the entire vessel in one big bite. Paul is even more unsettled after the visions he sees; he is given a sleeping pill by Dr. Yueh. It turns out that Dr. Yueh's wife has been taken by the Harkonnens, Yueh is assisting the Harkonnens in taking back Arrakis. Yueh's pill sedates Paul, and he poisons the Duke, but he is still loyal to House Atreides so he gives the Duke a false tooth that will release poison into the air killing the Duke and all those around him. Yueh also packs a bag of supplies for Paul and Lady Jessica including the Duke's family ring that will pass to Paul upon the Duke's death. 

Lady Jessica and Paul are taken by the Harkonnens, even though Baron Vladimir Harkonnen was instructed by the Reverend Mother to leave Paul and Lady Jessica alive he plans on killing them too. Paul and Lady Jessica are place on a ship and will be left in the desert to die, but with Paul's help Lady Jessica is able to use "the voice" as a means to make the captors obey her commands. Paul uses "the voice" to make one of the guards to ungag Lady Jessica who immediately commands him to kill the others. The ship carrying them crashes, but using the supplies given to them by Yueh they hide in a tent until the battle is done. While in the tent Paul again sees vision caused by his exposure to spice, in this one he sees a war being fought in his name which disturbs him greatly. The assault against House Atreides ends quickly as Yueh turned the shields off and most soldiers of House Atreides are killed or captured. Duncan Idaho is able to escape, and he meets up with Dr. Kynes; together they are able to find Paul and Lady Jessica. Kynes then brings them to a Fremen hideout. The hideout is attacked by the Emperor's soldiers and Duncan Idaho sacrifices himself so that Paul, Dr. Kynes and Lady Jessica can escape. Kynes leads them to a ship that will only seat two, Kynes tells them how to find another Fremen base while she says she will meet them there. Kynes though is killed by the soldiers, but not before she calls for a sandworm that devours the remaining soldiers and herself. 

Paul and Lady Jessica are flying the ship into a giant sandstorm to escape from some Harkonnen ships chasing them. Paul decides to power off the ship and let the storm keep them aloft, this saves them, but their ship is destroyed when they crash. The Duke is now paralyzed and forced to sit and watch Vladimir Harkonnen eat, when Vladimir comes to mock the Duke he is lured in and that is when the Duke bites down and releases the poison. Everyone in the room is killed, but Vladimir is not as he is badly injured, but he floats to the ceiling and waits there until he is rescued. Paul and Lady Jessica are forced to walk the rest of the way to the Fremen base, they get to a mountain of rocks just as a sandworm arrives to eat them. On the mountain they encounter Stilgar and his group of soldiers, he intends to kill them, but he decides against that. Among Stilgar's soldiers is Chani who Paul has been dreaming since before he came to Arrakis. One of Stilgar's other men Jamis decides he will not let Stilgar let them live and he challenges Lady Jessica and Paul to combat. Paul takes the challenge and fights Jamis, Paul has been seeing Jamis in his visions and he has been seeing this battle. Jamis is a great fighter, but Paul has the advantage as he seems to know what Jamis will do before he does it. Paul eventually overtakes Jamis, and he asks Jamis to submit which Jamis won't do as it is considered cowardly. Paul feeling no other way decides to take Jamis' life and thus fulfills his vision of himself dying (part of him does when he kills Jamis). Stilgar, Chani, Paul and Lady Jessica make their way to the Fremen base as the film ends.


I am such a big fan of this film; I am excited that we have another film coming from the team responsible for this one. Based on the actors involved, the director and the budget I had high hopes for this film, and it exceeded my expectations. I hope that when awards season starts that Dune is not forgotten, and it gets rewarded with awards. I think Dune combines the arthouse appeal with the blockbuster aesthetic, it is a great combination of spectacle and style. I was listening to the Now Playing Podcast's review of Dune, and I came away annoyed at how negative they were (it happens a lot with them). I do enjoy listening to a pile on of something, but when it is a film that I greatly enjoyed I find it hard to not get annoyed. The critiques of Dune by the Now Playing Podcast crew were centered around Paul Atreides being the main character whom they felt was too boring, and they liked the weirder and funnier tone of Lynch's version. To be clear they like the 1984 version of Dune because at times they laugh with the film and other times they laugh at it. The Now Playing Podcast thought the tone of the new Dune film was a little too brooding and heavy which got boring in the second half of the movie. There is nothing that I really had a problem with in the film, the only thing I will say is that I wish there was more Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac and Jason Mamoa in the film. I really enjoyed the characters those actors portrayed; I have no idea if we will see them in the sequel, but I hope we will get more. 

I know that I am a Denis Villeneuve fan, while I don't revisit Prisoners and Arrival very much (both films are tough watches for me) they are great films. I will go back and watch Sicario and Blade Runner 2049 many more times than I already have, and I am sure that Dune will be on the high rewatch list too. One of the thoughts I kept coming back to while watching Dune was that I felt the story was very similar to Lawrence of Arabia. The desert setting, the journey, the banding together of factions to take on a bigger enemy. The performances by the cast prove that finding good actors to play even small roles can pay off. Oscar Isaac, Jason Mamoa and Josh Brolin are not in the movie very much, but they have such a presence when they are on the screen, I kind of hope there is a director's cut that is 3.5 hours long with more scenes with those actors. One of the most challenging aspects of the film was that the dialogue at times was hard to understand, the book is similar in that way. When reading a book or watching a film that is using a world different from our own it takes time to get use to the language and words. Lord of the Rings had similar issues, and like Dune after a while you just pick up on the references or you learn to be patient. 

Dune is a dense film, but I believe the payoff will be in the second film when we are already familiar with the characters, setting and vocabulary of the world. I don't think Dune works as a stand-alone film, but I didn't think the first Lord of the Rings film (Fellowship of the Ring) worked as a stand-alone either. Dune is made with such high quality in all aspects that I can't help but be impressed by it, I am now eagerly awaiting the sequel and I am confident that it will be equally as impressive. As I am reading the book, I am comparing it to the film, and I can see that the film adjusted some of the characters and plot. The adjustments I think were made to better fit the actors picked for the roles, and I wonder if some of these actors will be back for the sequel. I heard on the Now Playing Podcast that Jason Mamoa's character despite dying appears in the book series again and we never did see the fate of Josh Brolin's character. I could also see some flashbacks in the sequel focusing more on Lady Jessica and the Duke, if we do indeed see more of Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho again then all I need is more Oscar Isaac and I'll be happy.  

I was concerned about the casting of Timothee Chalamet in the lead role, he has had an impressive career so far, but he has never appeared in a film this big and played such a vital role. Paul Atreides is a difficult character; he needs to be likeable to the audience but also needs to be vulnerable at times. Chalamet handled the part flawlessly, I liked the choice that his character is struggling with his destiny. Paul obviously has powers, he is able to intuit things, he can see glimpses of the future and he is burdened with his destiny. It is easy to understand why Paul struggles so much in the film, so much is expected from him, and he has power, but he couldn't do anything so save the people he cares about. The fight at the end between Paul and Jamis cements his future, but it is also a window into how he does not want to kill. Paul had visions that Jamis would be an ally, I am not sure how to interpret those visions, but I know he saw them for a reason. Paul might know what will happen, but it is hard for him to interpret the visions; we saw a few examples of how his visions differed from what would happen. 

The cinematography was amazing, the film was shot by Greig Fraser (Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty and the upcoming The Batman). The score for the film was composed by Hans Zimmer (Man of Steel, Inception and Interstellar) who as usual crafted an emotional score. The sound design for the film was also top notch, the decision to give the auditory effect for a character using "the voice". This is a film made with quality on all levels of production, I found the movie engrossing and entertaining. I am going to rate Dune as 9/10, it is a science fiction masterpiece and another great film in Denis Villeneuve's film resume. My only complaint of the film is that it does not function as a stand-alone film, but everything else about the film is a cut above the rest. Dune is a must watch and if you can see in a movie theatre, I believe you will get the best viewing experience.

Thank you for reading my spoiler review of Dune, let me know your thoughts on the film and keep a look out for my review of Eternals (I'm seeing it tonight).

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