After blazing a couple of joints last night, I decided to kill two and a half solid hours watching the remake of Dune on HBO Max. This is the remake of one of the most expansive epics in the sci-fi genre. Dune is based on a series of 6 lengthy novels by Frank Herbert. Herbert’s novels were first released in 1965 and were first adapted into a movie 1984.
I write this review having gone in fresh. I never read the novels. Not because I was never interested but never found the time. However, I do recall watching the bizarre 1984 version of the film starring Kyle MacLachlan in his acting debut. Long before Twin Peaks or becoming the mayor of Portlandia. I am a fan of sci-fi, so I had that going for me before I dedicated 10 percent of my day to watch the 155-minute epic.
The Dune movie on HBO Max relatively unknown, Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides was billed with a lot of hype by loyal Dune fans. After the 1984 David Lynch flop, a quality visual interpretation of the expansive novels has been long-awaited. Oscar Isaac plays Duke Leto Atreides, Paul’s father. Some might remember him from a series of Disney fan-boy marketing films where he played a character named Poe Dameron. Dune also stars several recognizable faces we love including Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
Going in with little recollection of the main storyline was rewarding for me. The first observation is that the title screen entitles the film as “Dune: Part One”. So I knew I’d be in for some cliffhanger shit. I also saw this as a positive as from what I recall the 1984 version just tried to jam too much in the film for it to pay off. Nevertheless, Part One of Dune did a great job of keeping me engaged for the entire duration of the film.
The film is set in the year 10019. It’s unclear if this is the same universe we all live in or an alternate one. But it involves planet-hopping and intergalactic space travel. Let me know in the comments if you know. Essentially the galaxy is run by an imperial regime and there are several powerful houses that run shit under the Emperor’s rule. The premise of the movie revolves around “spice” mining on the remote planet of Arrakis, where the locals aren’t too thrilled about these powerful houses coming down and destroying their planet. Understandably, this leads to conflict with the local Freman and House Harkonnen. The Empire eventually replaces House Harkonnen as the dudes responsible for mining the spice on Arrakis and assigns House Atreides to the task. That is where everything goes terribly wrong.
Meanwhile, the main protagonist Paul Atreides struggles with the daunting prospect of being the heir to House Atreides, his unusual powers, and being a punk-ass bitch who sleeps too much. Paul battles through the ups and downs of teen angst in an intergalactic conflict the best he can.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie and wasn’t really bored at any point during Dune’s run-time. I think not knowing the story helped me remain engaged. There is a lot of bright desert lighting and scenery in the film which can sometimes seem to drag, but there are plenty of other locations and characters to pique your interest as you watch. As a sci-fi fan, I think this is a good film to check out. Visually this is one of the most stunning movies the genre has ever seen. The technology has finally caught up with the complex ideas, ships, and landscapes the novels must have presented.
Now that it’s been established this is Dune: Part One I’m reasonably ok with the ending. I would have preferred a real cliff-hanger moment but the movie kind of concluded in a quiet way. This reminds me of the way Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring ended. This means there’s probably plenty more to come with this series. Which is a positive thing.