Dune [Grade: C]

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Story By: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, & Eric Roth

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Stellan Skarsgård, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, & Jason Momoa

* * *

I don’t think I was as moved watching this film as I was seeing the trailers and teasers leading up to it. I am, unfortunately (I think), now invested in seeing Part 2 because I need to see the closure. 

* * *

Below are my grades for key components in #Dune that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. 

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: D

Plot & Story: B

Pacing: C

Character Arc/Development: C-

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Don’t Watch

Villeneuve Fans: Worth the $$

Gritty Sci-Fi Fans: Interesting Enough

Film Enthusiasts: Interesting Enough

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. The film starts with the statement “Dreams are messages from the deep.” But the film doesn’t have any true continuity with this message. There’s literally 2 moments, I believe, where “dreams” and “messaging” were seen, and then maybe 2 or 3 times where “dreams” were mentioned without a response to signify it being a form of “messaging.” 

If anything, one message that seemed to be focused on was around “embracement”—Embracing one’s path / Embracing one’s purpose/destiny. The issue is that our main character doesn’t effectively display a form of rebellion towards his path or purpose. Throughout the first 2 Acts, our protagonist is treated like the little brother asked to tag along. He does a lot of observing and a lot of inquiring, but he doesn’t stand out as much as the mother and the setting which doesn’t provide any engagement with the theme. 

Act Three is where we see our protagonist actually command the screen with this “new attitude” and confidence AS IF he’s gone through these emotional, mental, and/or physical hoops and ladders to finally recognize his purpose/strength/path…but he doesn’t, and it comes off a little sudden. 🥴

2. The cinematography had moments that were visually enticing, but this wasn’t the case all the time… some moments felt too dark or too “dusty.”🤷🏾‍♂️

3. Um…that “desert attire change” moment gave “incest vibes…” and I am not sure why it was even necessary to be shot in that way. 🥴🤨🤦🏾‍♂️

4. As mentioned with the theme, we don’t really get much from our protagonist for much of the film. Act Three is possibly his strongest Act where most of his arc and development shines. 👍🏾

Act One gives subtle moments that are supposed to impact his development—specifically his dreams and his disinterest in “trainings”—but they are just mentioned then left alone. 🥴

Act Two completely does away with our protagonist, and focuses on the desert, the mother and father, and the villain. In hindsight, all of this does have a formula that should’ve worked as a development to later shake up the development of the protagonist, but the way in which Paul Atreides is sort of forgotten / seen and not heard interrupts the flow of what could’ve been for me. 🥴👎🏾

5. Dune tells a story about one planet being asked to monitor and protect another planet in order for them to continue with the production of a valuable resource, but there’s another agenda/other agendas at place for different stakeholders of this particular planet. 

Act One seemed to take on a task of trying to give space to setting up the protagonist while also giving droplets of background knowledge and interest about the planet which felt pretty good. 👍🏾

Act Two gives a lot of time for viewers to see and learn some interesting things about this planet plus the impact of these foreigners which gets to understanding the different stakeholders—It’s possibly the strongest Act in terms of the story. 👍🏾

Act Three focuses on the different stakeholders and the different responses based on their individual agendas towards the planet, and it wasn’t too bad…but the “official meeting” wasn’t exciting at all. It was actually a little boring. 🥴👍🏾🥴

6. Duke Leto Atreides was bae! 🙃

7. Eh… Zendaya’s character wasn’t exciting… 🤷🏾‍♂️

8. This film definitely felt a little long at times. Act Two felt paced extremely well in terms of overall visual engagement. 👍🏾

Act Three was the slowest and where I literally found myself asking at different times “is this where it’s about to end?” 🥴

Act One was also slow and not as “interesting,” but it was informative and played a role in laying some foundation for the rest of the film, so I was able to forgive and trust the process a little more…🥴

9. The best scene for me was the “invasion!” 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾

10. I wasn’t a fan of the humor moments. They felt so odd to rest of the film to the point I know exactly where they were—the “spit” meeting, the “muscles” comment, and the “it listens” moment… like, why? (Also, WHY that damn spider?)🥴🤷🏾‍♂️

* * *

Overall #Dune gives Star Wars: Episode 1—the Phantom Menace – meets Wakanda – meets Avatar – meets The Green Knight – meets Valerian.

The promos/teasers for this film are definitely some of the best because the hype, if it grabbed you, gets you to the theaters where you then find out it’s a “part one” (I didn’t know this at all), so now you have to commit to watching part 2 in the future in order to gain closure to the story…and that’s IF you care. (Honestly, this should’ve been broken up into 3 parts with this giving more focus on the characters individually). 

It’s not a terrible film, but it’s also not as exciting and interesting as it could’ve been for me. 

Side notes: 1. The “blue eyes” actually don’t pop as much as they do in the promos/teasers/trailers. At first it was disappointing, but then I actually appreciated the “naturalness” of it, but that got in the way of being able to actually recognize them at times. 

2 Did Zendaya actually exceed the expectations I had about her possibly not delivering a performance that fit with the overall vibe of the film? Nope she didn’t, but she also wasn’t “that bad” ONLY because of the frequency of her character. The opening with her voice felt good because it was before you had a chance to meet everyone else, and she was just providing a prologue. Then once I met everyone else of her species, I had a moment where I envisioned a younger girl playing the role because her delivery didn’t have the same tone as the rest of her people—a tone that indicated surviving in such a harsh atmosphere like the desert. She actually came off “privileged,” like someone of royal status who somehow was able to hangout with the hunters/nomads/front line. 

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