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Dune Movie Review

by Luke Shen

CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD!

Dune was an absolute blast. The remake is spectacular in both its visuals and cast, providing a more updated and modern take on the Dune novel series. However, this is not to say that the new movie is without flaws.

 In this take on the Dune books, the new Dune movie decided to split the whole story into two separate movies. Yet this idea is a double-edged sword. The fact that the director decided to properly space out and take their time with the original movie is truly admirable and does justice to the original book which sold over 20 million copies! This way, unlike the first Dune adaptation, the whole story won’t feel as rushed, allowing the cast to act out longer, more interesting scenes. Though a better story will be told, the problem with splitting the movie is that viewers won’t feel the satisfaction of a completed movie. Of course, this happens a lot with several movies, but the one thing that may irk people is that Zendaya did not get enough screen time. A Los Angeles Times article reported that Zendaya actually had a total of 7 minutes of screen time in the movie! Throughout multiple trailers, Zendaya was shown in every trailer, building up hype for her reveal in the theatres. However, some fans were disappointed, in which she only appeared in Paul Atreides’ dreams. In the defense of the movie, the article did mention the point made above, on how they wanted to truly explore the deep and intricate story line of Dune. Going on to the actual story itself, the plot was a classic one. The story takes place in a futuristic setting where Paul Atreides, the son of the leader of the House Atreides, wakes up after dreaming about Chani, a Fremen girl. The Fremen are the natives the desert planet Arrakis, where a substance called spice is farmed. Spice makes intergalactic travel possible, so the resource is quite important to the universe of Dune. The Emperor commands that the House of Atreides take over the post of the House of Harkonnen the current rulers of Arrakis. Once the House of Atreides arrive, and the Harkonnen leave, the Atreides get to work, only to be attacked by the Harkonnen and the Emperor’s Army in a coup under nightfall. The House of Atreides is toppled and the only survivors remaining are Paul and his mother Lady Jessica, who are now forced to roam the deserts seeking revenge for the Atreides. During their journey for revenge, Paul and his mother meet up with some local Fremen (including Chani), who Paul decides to team up with after winning in a duel to the death. The movie ends with the group walking into the distance, with Paul narrating his hopes to learn as much as he can about the Fremen and Arrakis. The plot is quite simple, with a fallen hero vibe, which perfectly sets up for a sequel, so no extra comments are really needed aside from the faster paced introduction towards the House of Atreides. Questions such as, “Where did the Atreides live originally”, “Who are Lady Jessica’s ancestors and why are they important” and Harkonnen backstory are left either unanswered or vaguely hinted at. It seems that the movie is directed more towards those who have read the novels, so the gaps can be filled in.

 Now where the movie truly shines is in the visuals. The new Dune adaptation makes the 1984 adaptation pale in comparison when it comes to visuals. Naturally, with the many cinematic technological advances since 1984, more wild, creative avenues are open for pursuit. Special effects create more visually pleasing interpretations of the ideas found in the Dune book. For example, in the 1984 movie, when Paul Atreides is sparring with his mentor, the shields they use are chunky, poorly rendered, rectangular prisms that protect the user’s body from any harm. In the recent Dune movie, the shields wrap around the user’s body, allowing any movements to feel more fluid, allowing the choreography of the fight to shine. 

Similarly, the design of the Harkonnen drastically improved, especially the Baron. The Harkonnen give off a more sinister, evil vibe, compared to the 1984 movie, where they are seen more as disgusting, and less intimidating. This can be seen with the design of the armor. In the newer Dune movie, the Harkonnen have a more seamless, plated armor, compared to the 1984 Harkonnen, where the armor looks more like clothing and less battle ready. In battle, the majority of the Harkonnen warriors wore costumes similar to those of black hazmat suits. The makeup used for the movie also significantly altered the look of the House of Harkonnen. The skin makeup used on the Harkonnen in the new Dune stunned the audience with their pale white skin, making watchers feel that the Harkonnen are anything but human. The previous movie emphasized the more disgusting aspect of the Harkonnen by putting nasty gross pimple-like growths all over The Baron’s face. Moving onto the Baron, the intimidation factor was increased by tenfold, turning the previously disgusting, overweight floating leader of the Harkonnen into a sinister, cunning, evil ruler. The scary look of the Baron is much better suited for the new Dune, where the whole image of the Harkonnen switched from gross to terrifying. 

Overall, this new adaptation of the original novel series seems to be more catered towards fans of the books. However, the movie was able to provide a new and interesting twist in visuals, effectively updating the already popular story, providing a truly exciting and appealing movie.

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