Dune (2021): The Greatest Book Adaptation in a Decade

Part 2 confirmed, baby! Let’s gooooooooo!

I’ll admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Dune book. There was plenty of stuff that I liked, but nowhere near enough to make me want to read the later books in the series. Still, when I heard this movie was happening, I got decently excited. If done well, this could be a modern-day sci-fi classic!

And it is! Half of one, at least!

After eighty years of Harkonnen oppression, the Emperor has passed the planet of Arrakis to the Atreides family. The son of this family, Paul Atreides, is the heir to two dynasties. The first, his father’s, the Atreides. The second, his mother’s, to fulfill a Bene Gesserit prophecy. Caught between politics and prophecy, can the Atreides family survive the trap they’ve unknowingly stepped into?

My major complaint with the Dune book was that I didn’t understand anything about what was happening. Even after finishing it, I was left confused about so many details. What’s going on with the space politics? Why is the Spice so important? What’s the deal with the Bene Gesserit and all the other jargon proper nouns? I’ve read the book twice and I still hardly get it.

Luckily, this movie does a lot in explaining it all. That leads to plenty of scenes of exposition, yes. But I’d rather be exposited at than totally lost for the whole movie. Plus, all of the exposition is really engaging because the dialogue and performances are so solid!

For all the added scenes, however, there are tons of scenes that were cut. Unfortunately, this is to the detriment of certain characters. The worst example of this is Dr. Yueh. In the book, he had plenty of scenes to establish his personality, motivations, and secrets. In the movie, he has three lines of dialogue before his big moment.

There’s also the issue that this is only part one. And part two is not in production. Unfortunately, it only got greenlit a few weeks ago as of the writing of this article. Meaning that we are years away from seeing the conclusion to this story.

On the bright side, that gives people plenty of time to read the book.

Thankfully, the movie does capture my favorite aspect of the book: Arrakis. Ironic that a planet so desolate feels so alive! The unique culture of the Fremans and the extreme lengths one needs to go just to preserve a drop of water are all brought to the screen without losing a single drop (heh heh, get it?) of their intrigue!

I loved the sandworms! All of the majesty and terror they had in the books is brought to life here to even greater effect than before! My jaw fell to the floor every time one showed up! They’re so cool and I can’t wait to see them become as iconic for movie viewers as they have been for book readers for so long!

Speaking of the visuals: this movie is GORGEOUS!! Every single shot in this movie is like a painting! I’d legit put every frame on my wall if I could! Even the shot-reverse-shot conversations have visual flare! Every three minutes or less, we’d get one shot that made me gape like a total idiot out of sheer awe!

And the music! Oh my god, dude, the music in this movie is incredible! There’s a huge variety between tracks and they’re all fairly memorable! I love how creative it can get with the instruments. They managed to work the bagpipes into this movie without it becoming painful on the ears!

I do not like the bagpipes, I’m sorry.

All of the actors are doing a phenomenal job, as well. Oscar Isaac kills it as Leto Atreides. Jason Mamoa as Duncan Idaho was my favorite, although Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck is close behind it. Even Chang Chen did an incredible job, despite Dr. Yueh’s lack of screen time and dialogue. There legitimately isn’t a bad actor in this whole movie!

A common critique I’ve heard is in regard to Timothée Chalamet’s performance as Paul. I can see why; he can be very cold and monotone at times. To which I ask: have you read the book? If not, let me assure you: that is one hundred percent intentional. In fact, I’d argue that Chalamet’s version of the character is far more emotional than the book version! He can be quiet, distant, and strange at times like Paul in the source material. But every now and then, we get a little glimpse of emotion that feels really genuine and impactful. I’d argue that this guy is one of the best actors in the movie, if not the best!

Overall, I loved this movie! It’s easily the best movie I’ve seen in a long time! In terms of book-to-movie adaptations, this one is right up there with The Lord of the Rings! Even on its own, it is an absolutely incredible film! It does cut out a lot of stuff and it is incomplete. But if part two is even half as good as part one was, this will be a modern-day masterpiece!

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I need to go watch it again. And probably another time after that.

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