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gorillapaws's avatar

What did you think of the new Dune film [Spoilers]?

Asked by gorillapaws (27700points) 1 month ago

Have you seen the new Dune film? What did you think? Have you read the books? Watched other film adaptations? How does this version rank for you? Were there some cinematic choices that stood out to you (good or bad)? Were you happy with the casting?

Feel free to post spoilers.

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23 Answers

mazingerz88's avatar

Following this. Defer on jellies’ opinions and reviews whether to see it or not.

filmfann's avatar

I haven’t read the books, but I saw the earlier film and miniseries.
This one looks great, with an amazing cast. I am disappointed that it is only part 1 and they aren’t really advertising that. I have no idea how long before they release part 2.

gorillapaws's avatar

@filmfann I don’t want to weigh in on anything until others have had a chance to share their thoughts, but I will say that this version definitely gave the story “time to breathe” with its pacing. That may be a pro or a con for some people.

ragingloli's avatar

It is visually impressive and technically very well executed, but otherwise I found it to be a massive disappointment.
Chiefly because most of the characters, except maybe Paul and his mother, are shallow, two-dimensional cardboard cutouts without any depth, especially the cartoony villains.
The Baron is just a gross blob, Dave Bautista’s character is just an angry meathead, Jason Momoa is just Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin is just a slightly angrier Cable.
Who they are, what their personal history or what their relationship to the main character is, the movie only pays passing attention to it, in a few lines or less, and is more concerned with wasting my time with overly long, sweeping landscape shots. And in general it felt like every scene should have been 30% shorter.
Even the underlying themes of environmentalism and exploitation of natives, as well as the politics between the various factions, is barely touched upon.
So when they eventually end up being killed, I felt absolutely nothing.
No sense of tragedy when Paul’s father, Brolin, and Momoa died.
No sense of triumph when the Baron was presumably gassed to death (and later turned out to have survived anyway).
When I left the cinema, I was left emotionally empty.
The next day, I barely remembered that I had watched it.
There is a scene in the beginning, where Paul questions why they have to go through that ceremony of his house accepting the mission on Arrakis, when it had already been decided.
The answer was “because it’s a ceremony”.
That is what this movie was.
A pointless, and empty ceremony that I just wanted to be over.

One last thing: Paul should have lost the fight with the native at the end. He was physically weaker (remember how Jason Momoa even mocked him at the beginning of the film for how skinny and weak he was), had less experience, was held back by fighting to subdue, and he was trained in the context of tanking hits with his personal shield, which in the fight he no longer had.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ragingloli Have you read the books? seen other Dune film adaptations? How did they stack up for you? One point I would disagree on was that I thought Paul’s dad did have depth and complexity to his character. Thanks for your detailed answer.

ragingloli's avatar

I have neither seen the other adaptations, nor read the books.

mazingerz88's avatar

@ragingloli Thanks for your post. That’s the second review having the same sentiments that I have read. I’m leaning more and more about not watching this on the big screen despite having missed watching movies in theaters. Your review along with my strong dislike of movies projected digitally might have sealed the deal here.

I read and enjoyed the book so many years ago and after seeing Lynch’s version it left me very much wanting of a better adaptation. But Lynch’s film does have its own charm so I do revisit it once every few years. I really should read the book again. I recently saw a video of Herbert talking about his novel and he said some things either I totally forgot about the book or had not realized at all in my first read.

ragingloli's avatar

Honestly, since you have read the books and seen the older adaptation, you might get more out of this one than me, since your brain will fill in all the blanks in the film.

gorillapaws's avatar

@mazingerz88 “I read and enjoyed the book”

If you’re a fan of the books, I would think you would want to experience this one in the theatre. It has flaws for sure, but it’s a visual spectacle that has some pretty breathtaking cinematography. Maybe the “strong dislike of movies projected digitally” is a dealbreaker, but movie tickets aren’t THAT much these days, and this feels like it was intended for the big screen. Did you watch/enjoy the Blade Runner Sequel? This film seemed to have some moments that echoed it aesthetically.

I will say this much, this film lacked some of the “flair” that Lynch’s version had, but I thought Paul’s character was better developed and acted here. The story feels more focused on Paul’s evolution and growth as a character and with his parents, in particular. I don’t disagree that some of the supporting cast should have had more interesting character development in the script, though I would say the performances were well-executed.

filmfann's avatar

I have now seen the new version.
I couldn’t disagree with @ragingloli more.
The movie is lush. Beautiful cinematography, and the story is told slowly and respectfully.
The cast is great, except Timothy Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson. Ferguson displays none of the depth of her character. Chalamet may still meet the challenge in Part 2. Here, he only really shows the self doubt of the character (which is an important, but not exclusive, characteristic).
Brolin isn’t as endearing as Patrick Stewart was in the original, but he puts the character across.
Oscar Isaac, as the Duke, puts across a more assured politician than has been shown before.
The Weirding Way gets short shrift here. You really don’t see what they are referring to. In other films, they were unable to display this, and instead changed the action. Maybe the second film will further explore this.
I still wish they had been able to release this along with Part 2, which is listed as in pre-production.
I recommend this, but voice my dissatisfaction with an incomplete story. Even the LOTR movies made it clear the next part was only a year away.

mazingerz88's avatar

@gorillapaws Yes I’ve seen Villenueve’s other films including Bladerunner and he had emerged as one of Hollywood’s better directors imo. One whose body of work is worth checking out.

I didn’t warm up to his Bladerunner right after seeing it. Later on I did. After accepting the fact that I maybe a bit too attached to the original, my top favorite sci-fi film after all. lol

I dislike digital projection because based on my internet research, if true, theater owners refuse to spend money on more expensive projector bulbs that could make the screen brighter. All of the digital movies I’ve seen on screen these past three years or so looked dark to my aging eyes. Seriously annoying.

I’m also not a big fan of how Hollywood is shooting mostly indoors. Digital fx don’t impress much when it’s the desert or the ocean back there on the blue or green screen. Worse, even building interiors all seem to be digitized these days.

I could see where this is heading. Only the actors will be the real items on screen. Even their character’s house clothes would be digitized.

canidmajor's avatar

Well, ugh. I was so looking forward to this, but I found it slow, ponderous, stupidly visually dark, and it evoked no sympathy in me.

I first read Dune in 1965, I was too young to understand the metaphor or the allegorical aspects, but I felt, at it’s heart, it was a good story. I have reread it over a dozen times since, and the sequels at least once (which didn’t do much for me) and seen the various film iterations.

I don’t feel that Villaneuve is telling the story. I feel he is half-assing the whole thing with big names and sweeping vistas and trying to be edgy and dark and mystical, without telling the story. Lynch, in spite of all his silliness, actually told the story better.

I liked the actor who plays Paul, I feel he has a good grasp of the character and does it well.

I am glad that I saw this at home rather than in the theater, I might have walked out.

Really, the point is to tell the story.

ETA. @ragingloli, you might enjoy the book.

mazingerz88's avatar

@canidmajor I think you answered the question I had after reading Villenueve’s statement on how he approached this project. He mentioned something along the lines of essentially exploring his own feelings growing up. Wasn’t sure what that meant. Looks like he told his story but not Herbert’s. lol

With regards to this movie as just being Part 1, this reminds me of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring. The financing of the second film seemed to have been dependent on the box-office performance of the first one. Jackson was astute enough to know what he needed to put into the first installment. Not sure about Villenueve and his producers.

ragingloli's avatar

We have had bifurcated stories for quite some time. They are called “cliffhangers”. Like “Best of Both Worlds”, “Within the Serpent’s Grasp”, or “The Empire strikes back”.
And they usually work, because the stories leading up them make us invested in the characters and their fates, as well as the world they inhabit, so that we look forward to the continuation of the story.
Villeneuve’s “Dune” fails in that department. I do not care about any of them, or what happens to them. Neither do I care about what happens to their universe, because that one was not fleshed out either.
The more I ponder it, the more I lean towards the conclusion that this is objectively a bad movie.

canidmajor's avatar

@mazingerz88 and @ragingloli, I had read that the financing for for #2 would be dependent on the take from #1. In which case, I wonder if it will be ever made. In most of the others, at least there was already some work in place to continue the story.

I will likely follow the career of young Timothée Chalamet, I think he has some serious potential

ragingloli's avatar

And to preempt any arguments that one should read the books to better understand the movie:
To quote RLM’s Phantom Menace Review:
“The point is I’m still not sure what the doughnut ships were there to do. And don’t any of you f[]s tell me that it was explained more in the novelization of some Star Wars book. What matters is the movie. I ain’t never read one of them Star Wars books, or any books in general for that matter, and I ain’t about to start. Don’t talk about them stupid video games, or, or novels… comic books or any of that fucking crap. I see enough of that shit.”

The movie is an adaptation, not a sequel or continuation. It has to stand on its own, without presuming or demanding previous knowledge of the material by its audience. If it can not do that, then the movie fails.

canidmajor's avatar

@ragingloli I agree, these things should be able to stand alone. But I do think you would like the book on its own merits.

gorillapaws's avatar

I just watched this really interesting breakdown of the hand in the box scene with the director. I think it does a good job showing Villeneuve’s approach to the film (obviously some of you hated it). Personally I loved this scene. Chalamet’s performance is very restrained though most of the film (deliberately so), but this scene really showcases his ability to convey a range of emotions with very little dialogue.

mazingerz88's avatar

First time I ever saw and was made aware that Chalamet exist as an actor was in the Netflix movie The King. ( good movie ) Followed by a lead role in a Woody Allen movie shot in New York. A pretty good actor imo.

If anyone’s interested in another film directed by Villenueve, an early one would be Enemy with Jake Gylenhall.

Caravanfan's avatar

Not reading this thread because I haven’t seen it yet. I recently reread Dune and it cemented itself with me as the greatest science fiction novel ever. I never was able to get into the sequels.

The David Lynch version was atrocious. The miniseries from about 20 years ago wasn’t bad. As I told @gorillapaws in a PM I love Denis Villenueve’s latest 3 films and I am a huge Hans Zimmer fan.

Normally I would have been first in line to see this movie, but I’m going to a special event with a friend in two weeks. I run a geek listserve though and it’s got a huge thumbs up.

mazingerz88's avatar

I ended up watching it. On the small screen. It’s really not much different from Lynch’s version. The sequencing and plot turns in this new movie, they’re all there in Lynch’s version. Not really sure why I expected something different from Villeneuve. Same book after all.

Villeneuve’s choice of art design looks nice to me but in his case rather predictable. I won’t be surprised if he used the same visual artist from his alien movie.

I think I still prefer Lynch’s version. I actually appreciate it more now after watching Villeneuve’s clinical and forgettable take. Now I can’t wait to watch Lynch’s film again, to see its art design, visuals, practical fx, engaging character performances and most of all his cinematic language that to me comes across as uniquely lynchian.

I really have to read the book again. Try to find out if it’s really possible to tell the story properly in a movie and be entertaining at the same time. Maybe it isn’t.

gorillapaws's avatar

Here’s my take on it: I loved it—though it wasn’t perfect. I haven’t read the books, but I’ve seen Lynch’s version as well as the miniseries. Dune has often been called unfilmable, and I suspect that has a lot to do with all of the weirdness in the Dune universe. Trying to explain everything in exposition would be a tedious disaster.

Villenueve’s approach is to distill the story down to its essence: ultimately Dune is a bildungsroman (coming of age story) of a gifted young Paul, placed in a precarious position by the political forces surrounding his family as well as his inherited abilities. It tells the story through his eyes and the human drama is mostly between Paul, his mother and father. IMO this is the right approach for a film adaptation: strip the story to it’s core and fill-in-the-gaps where needed. I thought the scene with Paul and his father visiting the gravesites of their ancestors was a really powerful one, and the kind of human impact that Lynch’s version lacked (he was trying to cram it all into one film after all). We don’t see the Emperor, or have elaborate party scenes with the great houses. This is Paul’s story, we’re aware of the Emperor’s existence and his machinations, and will meet him when the time is right in the story.

Villenueve’s vision is both beautiful, haunting and unfortunately too sterile. We don’t see the “used future” look that I believe would be more appropriate in such a gritty universe. Ships emerging from below the sea (lake?) have no evidence of barnacles or seaweed, the amazingly designed ornithopters seemed to lack the expected wear-and-tear from operating in such a hostile environment. It’s also visually stunning and memorable. Scale plays a major role in nearly every shot of the film. Humans are small in the vastness of the sea, desert, space.

For the most part the CGI was appropriately restrained. I can’t stand the trends of modern CGI to have thousands of little things dancing around in-frame, or combat maneuvers that feel grossly unrealistic and ultimately silly. One sequence I particularly disliked was when Duncan was escaping the city in the ornithopter and he does this weird evasive loop maneuver. That scene seems more like it was ripped out of a CGI turd like “Pacific Rim,” feeling gratuitous and out-of-place in an otherwise tastefully done film.

I do agree with some of the criticism that the supporting cast really didn’t have much depth. I think a few more scenes could have really rounded-out their characters (maybe one between Duncan and Gurney talking about their hopes/dreams/fears). I also felt the villains could have used more screen time. The PG-13 rating was a terrible idea and really hurt this film. It would have been much better had they been able to depict a more brutal Harkonnen family. Torturing/murdering Dr. Yueh’s wife in front of him would have made for a better scene IMO. There’s a scene where Gurney describes the Harkonnens as being brutal, but films work best when they “show” instead of “telling.” I’m really interested to see the scenes that Villenueve had to cut for time.

I thought the acting was exceptional. Characters were mostly restrained—they’re trying to appear calm/collected, but there are moments where they break out of the facade they’re presenting and depict powerful emotions. These moments have that much more of an impact because of the contrast.

The almost arbitrary ending felt a bit jarring, but I was ready for more even after 2.5 hours. This first film felt like a prelude in a way. I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.

mazingerz88's avatar

^^Really good review.

Just saw this article. Glad to come across another reviewer that has the same opinion as mine about the two Dune movies.

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