November 16, 2021
Dune (2021), directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) is overall a spectacular work of cinema that left me wanting more. Artistically, it is a masterpiece. The skillful, nuanced use of a limited blue and sepia palette provided emotion and life to an otherwise vast desert.
From a theater- viewing perspective, the main point of contention among viewers seems to be the sound design. It’s bold, unique, and much better the second time you watch. At first, it’s somewhat overwhelming (though this has more to do with the theaters than the movie itself, it’s all part of the experience): after seeing it again, though, it’s much easier to appreciate just how well it’s done.
In terms of plot, it cleaves to the source material fairly faithfully, which makes me excited for the sequel. However, because they did this, the distribution of action and emotion felt… off balance. The middle of the movie had a segment where the action climaxed, and after that it just felt like a slow burn with little blips of intensity. I’m not sure if there was a better way to do this, but it was something that bugged my in my second viewing of the film. As far as acting goes, the casting director did well. I’ll admit, I was worried when Chalamet was announced as Paul. All my apprehension dissolved very quickly, though. The acting was outstanding, and helped build emotion when it was needed most. I didn’t love Zendaya’s role and how it appeared in this movie, though. It felt like a flex of ‘we got Zendaya’ instead of finding the best person for that part.
My favorite part of the movie is also the part that I think was done the most effectively: the practical and digital effects. The more general bits, like the body shields, don’t interrupt immersion at all, and the larger ones, such as buildings exploding, provide a satisfying sense of scale and importance.
Overall, I had a blast watching this film, and I’m excited for the sequel. I have some small issues with certain parts, but it is very well produced and visually immaculate. It’s a must watch, both as a cultural phenomenon and a great movie.