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Dune (2021)

10/23/2021 9:36 pm |

I just got home from seeing Dune, and this is my spoiler free review.

TLDR: The movie does a lot to get the book to screen adaptation right, possibly too much. I'm not sure how much people who aren't familiar with the story will enjoy it.

Now my longer thoughts:

First, some very important context: I have read the book probably a dozen times. It was one of the books I'd name as being very formative for me, and has been a mainstay for me as something I regularly would revisit. I have a half-dozen copies of it in various printings. I love the book.

Second, the story itself has its problems as it comes from another era. Sexism, racism, and all sorts of other -isms. Looking at it requires looking through the lens of awareness and time.

Now, I saw the movie in just a regular theater. And, for a solid portion of this movie, I had tears leaking from my eyes at the beauty and story that was on screen in front of me.

There have been a number of previous attempts to tell this story on the big screen. First was the movie that included such names as Patrick Stewart and Sting. Second was the TV miniseries for Syfy.

This one nailed it in so many ways. I don't agree with everything. I don't agree with all of the casting. But... man they got so much right.

That said, to make the movie they did, they had to cut from the story. A lot of what they cut would have made a lot of what they kept make more sense, or in some cases, is completely needed for things to make sense.

For example, there are people in the story called Mentats. You'll know them by a black stripe on their bottom lip. They are essentially human computers. Why are they there? What do they do? You get no context to them in the movie. And there is importance for them to the sides in the story.

The soldiers in the movie all fight with blades, even though you see lasers and projectile weapons? Why? The book gives you a reason, but they skip explaining it in the movie so you are forced to just accept this.

They also barely provide the context that is the intergalactic setting for the defining conflict of the story. You get bits of it, but I am not sure how obvious it is to people who don't have the book in their head to fill in the gaps and it definitely lacks some of the larger context.

Now, I get it. Things had to go otherwise this would be a series of four four-hour epics. But I air these as examples of why I think reading the book before seeing the movie is so beneficial, it lets you appreciate the story at a deeper and more complete level.

The visuals and the way they portrayed the story is largely true to the book. It also hits the tone and epic feel of the story; unfortunately I think that to hit those things, lends to the way that many will find the movie slow and plodding.

I am thrilled to see it getting such good ratings on Rotten Tomatoes; I am just worried we're about to see those ratings dip as others are enticed to see it.

Lastly, I understand why they did it, but it was not advertised that this is not the whole Dune story. It's just "Part 1." No, I don't mean multiple books as the story of Dune. I mean the first book of Frank Herbert's series. My estimate is that they see it being a trilogy, but I have no idea if we'll get more than just this movie.

We'll see.

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