After several years of waiting, I finally saw Dune 2021 last night and it fucking blew me away! It was everything I hoped it to be and more. I remember how I was excited about it last year in March, writing about the all-new Dune 2021 Remake. It’s interesting to see what I got right back then. First of all, if you have the opportunity, go see this movie on a big screen, it deserves it. There will be plenty of time to watch at home in the coming years and decades. This is a glorious science-fiction epic that is here to stay. It features stunning visuals, coherent storytelling but it’s the atmosphere that really got to me. This thick, epic, and all-consuming atmosphere that’s different from anything we’ve ever seen before.
Two and half hours flew by and I can’t wait to see the sequel that’s just been greenlit. Actually, there are already rumors that the third part, based on Dune Messiah, is also in the works. However, it will be years and years before it premiers. You can use this time to check out the original novels. There’s also a television show Dune: The Sisterhood currently in development. However, its fate is still undecided as most of the crew has been pulled back to work on the sequel that’s supposed to come out in two years. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly and we will be able to finish this epic tale in 2024.
It took a while for me to warm up to the “Denis Villeneuve Experience”. His movies were just too slow and moody for me. At the time, I wanted something fast and snappy to fit my lifestyle and “other habits”. For example, I really hated Blade Runner 2049 the first time I saw it. However, a couple of years later, I was ready for it. I was ready to be taken away from this Earth and into some other world. And I was. Now, all the things I didn’t like about it were the things I enjoyed immensely. The style is not retro science fiction and it’s not futuristic but something entirely original.
Dune 2021 is one of the most faithful adaptations I have ever seen. It’s difficult to describe but you will feel like you’re watching a novel. Actually, it might be so much like that, that the characters seem like they’re not utilizing the full potential of the big screen. And this is perhaps the only flaw this movie has. As I think some of the audience will have trouble connecting to the characters as they’re not “likable” or going through the same shit the members of the audience are going. The movie is more focused on the metanarrative, on building the Dune universe and completely immersing you in it. And it does so with ease and style.
This doesn’t mean that the script is bad because it isn’t. It just means the movie isn’t pandering or trying to trick the audience. Some of the dialogue is incredibly intelligent and deeply moving, something you can use in your everyday life. Here’s one that stayed with me:
“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve. But a reality to experience. A process that cannot be understood by stopping it. We must move with the flow of the process. We must join it.”
The scenes with huge cigar-shaped ships and spice harvesters are just incredible. And I just love the decision to make these vessels different from the usual spaceships we get in these movies. They’re not different to the point of being intentionally quirky but simply offering a different vision of how a giant spaceship should look like. And Ornithopters were in the original novel, written back in 1965. You can sense the scale of these machines much like in Prometheus, another visually stunning science-fiction epic. These scenes feel like you’re dreaming. Like you’re dreaming you’re on another planet, witnessing all these events as a privileged observer.
As one of the few big space operas, Dune 2021 offers a different experience from Star Wars or Star Trek. Both these franchises have been commercialized and turned into products with possibly one single exception of Rogue One. I really liked that movie and it was good for what it wanted to achieve. The same goes for The Mandalorian. Star Trek wasn’t so lucky, but at least we have The Orville. So, just don’t be expecting some huge laser fights and space combat and you should be fine. As for Dune 1984, it is not fair to make any kind of comparisons as the movies are so vastly different. Sure, the 2021 edition is a much more polished movie, but there’s something about that raw and visceral adaptation plagued by production issues that makes it worth checking out.
Finally, it’s time to talk about the cast of Dune 2021. Timothée Chalamet was perfect Paul, although he has that douchy vibe about him. And trust me, if he was really like that, I would be the first one to tell you. Most of this movie revolves around him and he carried that burden with ease giving one hell of a performance. Remember, Paul is just 15 years old in the original novel. Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, and Stellan Skarsgård were great as per usual. And I could go down the list of all the other actors and praise their performances but I won’t. I will just mention Babs Olusanmokun as Jamis to segwey into Too Old to Die Young. This miniseries will redefine the meaning of slow pacing for you. And yet the whole thing is strangely engaging and refreshing.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth, Frank Herbert
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jason Momoa
Fun Facts: The scenes on the ocean world of Caladan were shot in Stadlandet, Norway. Much of the desert scenes on the desert world of Arrakis were shot in Jordan and Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East.