How You Dune? – A Review

It’s difficult to compare Dune the novel with Dune the movie. On the one hand, Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel Dune is about political intrigue, ecology, and terrible destiny. On the other hand, Denis Villenueve’s film Dune is about spaceships taking off and landing.

And those scenes of spaceships taking off and landing are really, really excellent.

Now, I know what you’re wondering: How is any one person supposed to pronounce the name “Denis Villenueve?” Here are a few helpful tips. First, eat a few bites of avocado toast. Secondly, if you pronounce the first name anything at all like “Dennis,” you’re wrong. Thirdly, randomly select half the letters in his last name and ignore them. (It doesn’t matter which ones.) And finally, just think of the phrase “Denny’s Villain Wave,” and then make sure not to pronounce it like that.

Now that we can all pronounce the name of the director, we’re prepared to discuss the film in the most sophisticated of fashions. Dune has a lot of different factions, so let’s start by reviewing them.

House Atreides are the good guys, which means they’re virtuous enough to knowingly all die in an obvious trap for the sake of the plot.

The Harkonnen are a House of evil albino Joe Rogans, and the sworn rivals of the Atreides. They enjoy fine dining, beheadings, and taking long baths completely immersed in alternative medicine fluids.

There’s the Bene Gesserit, who manipulate events from the shadows and spend way too much time on Ancestry.com. Mostly this involves flying around the galaxy and sticking kids’ hands in boxes to make sure they’re not animals. They’ve also mastered mind control, which involves turning one’s voice into an IMAX speaker.

The Fremen drink their own urine, and believe that Timothee Chalamet is the chosen one. (I’m not saying there’s a correlation. I’m not not saying it, either.)

And then you have the Sardaukar, who are the Emperor’s elite army of human didgeridoos. Obviously, House Atreides is completely helpless against them.

There’s a ton to pack into a single film, so Denis Villenueve is breaking it into two, following the footsteps of mature cinematic masterpieces such as Mockingjay (parts 1 and 2), Breaking Dawn (parts 1 and 2), and Harry Potter and the Producers Want More Money (parts 1 and 2).

But it’s hard to knock the decision, as the main issue with movie adaptations is there’s just not space for everything that was in the book. One scene that Frank Herbert himself wished had made it into the original Dune movie — and isn’t in this one, either — is the dinner party scene, replete with political double-speak and cultural insights. Unfortunately, scenes like that don’t further the overall plot much, and obviously had to be cut to make room for 200-plus minutes of Zendaya modeling for Fremen noseplug commercials in slow motion.

Whatever issues there may be with the plot, the technical prowess on display is undeniably impressive. Denis Villenueve really immerses the viewer by filming every scene through the lens of an unchanged furnace air filter. He expertly coaches the actors to pierce the oftentimes opaque sci-fi subject matter by alternately screaming or mumbling their lines. And, of course, there are all those amazing scenes of spaceships taking off and landing.

If I had to give Dune a grade, I’d add up the number of scenes of spaceships taking off or landing, and then subtract the number of slow-motion Zendaya noseplug scenes. That leaves us with the number 4.

Is 4 a good grade, or bad? It’s difficult to tell — at least, without drinking your own urine.

This article first appeared in the Duzett Gazette, the really official newsletter of Carl Duzett. Sign up here to get more content like this in your inbox, as well as some other content that isn’t quite like it, but is probably also good.

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