Dune Review


Jake Needle, Staff Writer

Warning! This review contains spoilers for the movie.

If I had to describe Denis Villnueve’s Dune in one word, it would be “huge.” Luckily, I get to use more. The original novel is notorious for being complex, but Villnueve makes it easy for the audience to follow the most basic background details through simple exposition and to understand its complexities through the characters’ actions and environments. And environment there is. Similar to his work with Blade Runner 2049, Villnueve’s worldbuilding is top-notch. The technology constantly shifts from alien and unknown, reminding us that this story is set over 10,000 years in the future, to tangible and familiar, reminding us that these characters are still human. 

Upon arriving on Arrakis, the audience is hit with stunning visuals that capture the feel of the desert landscape. Massive spice-collecting machinery are dots in the sand, demonstrating the extensiveness of the desert. Bright light sucks the moisture out of the air and feels like the deadly sun of the arid land. The rolling dunes that seem almost identical go on forever, immersing you in the desert world. 

It wouldn’t be a proper discussion about Dune without bringing up the sandworms. The biggest (literally and figuratively) icons to come from Dune measure up to about 400 meters in length, attacking anything with rhythmic vibrations. The three-flap mouth from book art and the 1984 film are traded for a circular hole with rings of sharp, baleen-like teeth. 

The film’s pacing is something that should be discussed, as it does not move like a regular film. The attack on the city by House Harkonnen and the Emperor’s soldiers is the most action-heavy portion of the movie, but it slows down tremendously to the end, with the perceived “climax” to be the duel between Paul and Jamis. But in reality, this is just a transition to the (hopefully) coming sequel, as this film is only the first part. This should be obvious, as the film’s opening title sequence clearly labels it as part one. Nevertheless, the slowed down pacing could be frustrating, but I actually enjoy it. Paul and Lady Jessica have just barely escaped the attack, and are still recovering from the shock. The slowed down pace allows the audience time to recover from the attack as well, feeling the uncertainty that our characters face. 

To give it the one-sentence thought: Dune conveys its source material in the smartest way, by slowing down to focus on the details and splitting it into two parts, making us anticipate a sequel to find resolve on Arrakis. 

Photo credit: Polygon