Dune is the most captivating film of 2021 by far. As someone who grew up reading the book by Frank Herbert, I always felt distasteful about the prior attempts at bringing the beloved sci-fi series to the big screen. The plot of Dune is overwhelming to follow for many, and previous versions made too many mistakes in the way they laid out the world-building. Like Game of Thrones, Dune is about many “Houses” (families) that overlap in an epic political fantasy fashion. Game of Thrones (TV show) was very successful, partly because it heavily focused on Jon Snow and three primary houses (Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen), making it easier to follow.
Dune (2021) was similar in making most of the film about its main character Paul Atreides, and by extension House Atreides. This gave viewers the chance to follow along with the original story while not being overwhelmed by the narrative of other houses. I especially enjoyed the fact that Princess Irulan was not a part of the first film. I feel as though she gives too much away as a narrator.
In terms of cinematography, this was one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. In many ways, it made me reminisce on other great films like A New Hope, Interstellar, and Pride and Prejudice (2005). Every transition was impeccable, every shot perfectly distributed. Director Denis Villeneuve did an amazing job of displaying such an in-depth fantasy world.
Casting-wise, I could not have cast it better myself. This was my perfect fancast! Most of these actors fall under my top 10 favorite actors list. Timothée Chalamet is Paul. Oscar Isaac was a wonderfully stoic Duke Leto, and Jason Momoa a likable version of Duncan Idaho. Chani portrayed by Zendaya…. listen… if I were Paul, I’d risk it all for her too.
If I had to give this film a critique, it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it felt a bit incomplete. I felt as though we didn’t learn enough and that it left off on a strange note. On the other hand, this is a much-preferred feeling to the overly-rushed experience I get from a lot of Star Wars and Marvel movies. I say this as someone who absolutely adores both of those franchises. Personally, I would rather leave wanting more than leave overwhelmed by the amount of action and information they tried to pack in too tightly.
Overall, I am so grateful we are getting a Part 2. I cannot wait to see how Paul transforms from a savior to an anti-hero. There is so much world they can explore; I hope we get to see it all splayed out on the big screen!