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Doc Reviews Dune 2021

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Welcome back you everyone. It is I, Doc Comeau and again, it's been an additional week, but we are back for another movie review. Today we are reviewing HBO Max's new telling of Frank Herberts Dune. As a fan and as a film critic this movie had faults in both areas. I waited almost thirty years to see this book done right on the big screen and I was delighted and upset with what I seen.

 

Authored by Doc Comeau on Monday, October 25th, 2021 at 3:16 PM EST

 
All Photos from IMDb
 

Film Synopsis

 

Dune is the story of Paul Atreides, an intelligent and supernaturally gifted noble boy setting out on a journey to fulfill his destiny, His house must travel to the planet Arrakis to oversee spice harvesting and production to maintain the fuel source for the empire's intergalactic space travel. War, religion and betrayal cause Paul to seek refuge with the tribes of Arrakis' deserts.

 

Film Credits

 

It was not until I started doing these movie reviews that I started to pay attention to whom directors were. As a fan that is not needed to enjoy the story of the films we watch, but this is a review and Dune was written and directed by Denis Villeneuve a French Canadian film maker responsible for movies like Arrival and Sicario. Dune is the latest in a series of successful productions from this seasoned film maker.

Paul Atreides destined leader of the Fremen resistance is portrayed by Timothée Chalamet. He is not new to the world of acting as he was in a few projects according to IMDb, but I have not seen him before outside of this film. He was not really given a chance to shine as Paul as this film ended at the story's rising action, but what I did see was an excellent portrayal of a character I have come to love from reading Frank Herbert's novel. I really hope this film gets a sequel so I can see how he a handles the character at the height of his power.



Jason Mamoa steps in to fill the role of Duncan Idaho, mentor and combat instructor to the young Paul Atreides. Despite having only a few on screen scenes Mamoa stood out from the rest of the cast. Something I am not surprised by as I very rarely watch anything with Jason in it that I do not thoroughly enjoy.


The next performance that stood out among the rest was Oscar Isaac portrayal of Duke Leto Atreides. The leader of House Atreides and father to our main protagonist Paul. Despite not getting the proper development the character called for Isaac captured the essence of the man's dedication to the people he leads over the resources he is tasked with protecting. I would have liked to get a more fleshed out version of the character than we seen as Isaac was the perfect choice for the role.

 

Rotten Tomatoes Scores

 

According to Rotten Tomatoes this film is doing real well amongst both Critics and audiences that reviewed the film. The Critics give the movie a score of "83% out of 326 reviews" as of the time of this review. Actual movie goers give it a bit higher of a rating. They rate the film at a "91% out 2500+ reviews" despite the overwhelmingly warm reception from the movie goers the film is getting mixed reviews from the internet world. Some people mad they didn't flesh out the story enough to stand on its own without the rest of the novel or the fact that they didn't tell the whole story.

 
CRITICS CONSENSUS
Dune occasionally struggles with its unwieldy source material, but those issues are largely overshadowed by the scope and ambition of this visually thrilling adaptation. - Rotten Tomatoes
AUDIENCE SAYS
Denis Villeneuve's Dune looks and sounds amazing -- and once the (admittedly slow-building) story gets you hooked, you'll be on the edge of your seat for the sequel. - Rotten Tomatoes
 

My Rating

 

As a fan that waited almost thirty years to see this film told on screen the right way it was hard for me to separate it to give it a proper critical analysis, so I will give your two ratings here. The one as a fan and the one as a film critic. There is just no other way to review this film.


So I will do my best to avoid spoilers in this section of the review as I always do, so consider this your warning. After this section I will not be avoiding any spoilers for those of plan to see the film. As a fan of this book series I was torn with my thoughts on this movie. What I did see felt like what I imagined in my head while reading the novel as a child, but it was missing some substance and only contained a fraction of the overall narrative. I am forced to give this film a 7 out of 10 because it has emotional significance to me and failed to deliver on the full story or the full piece it did the port


As a film Critic this film is going to get an even lower score of a 6 out of 10. The film was visually compelling and the acting was phenomenal, but it lacked enough plot points and character development to justify it standing as its own film. The end of the film felt like the middle of the film. The point where the story starts to truly unfold on screen. The point where the story starts to truly unfold on screen. The film needed to be fleshed out a bit more to function as an independent and stand alone narrative.

 
As a film Critic this film is going to get an even lower score of a 6 out of 10. The film was visually compelling and the acting was phenomenal, but it lacked enough plot points and character development to justify it standing as its own film. - Doc Comeau
 

Story and Screenplay

 

So you warned in the last section of the review that from here on out there would be spoilers throughout the rest of the process. So if you don't want to be spoiled before seeing the film for yourself now is the time to leave this review. For those of you left, we are going to break down what I thought about the film's story and screenplay.


Basically as stated above this film is the first piece of the journey of Paul Atreides as he becomes the leader of the House of Atreides and the Messiah of the highly religious Fremen. The film only covered the innitial piece of Frank Herbet's Dune and suffered from lack of character development and enough fleshed out plot point to justify being a stand alone film. Key elements of the world were not explained adequately and could have been done better.


The movie and story centers around the established political systems need to maintain control of the Spice production. The film mentions this being needed for interstellar hyperspace travel, but only vaguely hints at the Spice's exact use in powering the mathematical skills of the Space Guild's Mentats. A class of people and ability that is shared by the story's protagonist Paul that was never mentioned, but only hinted at by the easy absorption of the hollow education Paul received in the film on Arakkis, her people and her customs. A key element in the character's story.


The story did a good job explaining the fact that the Emporer of the political system within the story was jealous and afraid of the empire's people loving and respecting the Areides family. It explains he set the family up to fall, but the film forgets a huge key element of the story while doing so. The other Houses would rebel if they new the Emporer set up House Atreides and unlike the book where his assassins disguise themselves as Harkkonen Soldiers the film has them proudly walk as the Empire's elite. All the story would need to fall apart would be one person surviving the onslaught and informing the rest of the houses. A detail that should not have been overlooked.


Another part of the screenplay that fails to live up to the navel's story is its portrayal of the protagonists allies the Fremen and the main villains the House of Harkonnen. Both were sterilized of any and all character traits that might offend the delicate sensibilities of the overly political right and left of western culture. The House of Harkonnen that were filthy, disgusting vile pedophiles had this completely omitted as was the Fremen's link to the Islamic faith by scrubbing all mentions of a Jihad, which was a central component of the people's faith and character in the novel.


There was more, but if I continue this section would be more than enough to fill its own blog post, so I will give my review here. Some of these omissions while sounding like a fan complainer would have served the film better by fleshing out the characters with a more cohesive beginning, middle and end would have helped this film stand on its own. As it stands now it doesn't feel like one half on a two film saga and more like the first half of a single film. For this I was forced to give it a 5 out 10. What the did show and give audiences was spectacular and awesome, but it fails to deliver a satisfying and cohesive ending to a singular story within a two part saga. The film should have been made in one large four hour masterpiece or fleshed out the part of the story that covers the fall of the House of Atreides.

 
For this I was forced to give it a 5 out 10. What the did show and give audiences was spectacular and awesome, but it fails to deliver a satisfying and cohesive ending to a singular story within a two part saga. The film should have been made in one large four hour masterpiece or fleshed out the part of the story that covers the fall of the House of Atreides. - Doc Comeau
 

Performances and Dialogue

 

This section of the film was a double edged sword. As mentioned in the previous section the film suffered from a lack of adequate character development of characters in a standalone film which any multipart movie should achieve, but what we were given was phenomenal acting and dialogue. Not a single actor fell flat to me, I just wished we got to know them better before the end. There was not enough development to really get attached to the characters of the film.


The actor that portrayed Paul gave an excellent performance. You could see and feel the emotion int he scenes we were given, but we were only given half the character development and the film ended before he was really given a chance to carry the narrative. The film could have included more training sequences with his mother and Duncan in addition to more bonding with his father. This would have served to flesh out all four main characters and made it easier for general audiences to get attached to them and care about the future of the story.


The performances given by the main Harkonnen members were excellent, but they didn't get enough screen time for me to care. Had they given them more time and not sterilized them of their vile behaviors they could have made them more habitable and given audiences a reason to love to hate them. As it stands now you can replace them with any Political Science Fiction villain and the story would not change at all. They were not important to the overall self contain arch or lack there of to this film.


For this reason I was forced to deduct three points from my review of this part of the film and give it a 7 out of 10. The performances can be as perfect as possible and still fall flat if you do not give the full context of the narrative. The best actors in the world cannot not fix an unfinished story.

 
For this reason I was forced to deduct three points from my review of this part of the film and give it a 7 out of 10. The performances can be as perfect as possible and still fall flat if you do not give the full context of the narrative. The best actors in the world cannot not fix an unfinished story. - Doc Comeau
 

Cinematography

 

The cinematography, CGI and visuals of the film is by far the movie's strongest element. The sets, costumes and effects were all perfect, seemless and believable. The really helped bring the world to life and make it feel like a real place.


The ship designs, the costumes and makeup and environmental designs truly feel like they leaped right off the pages of Frank Herbert's novel. Everything I have seen did feel like it was the novel come to life. However, without a full stand alone narrative, it cannot save the film on its own.


Still, this is the best part of the film and easily get a damn near perfect score. The crew did an excellent job bringing the universe of Dune to a visual medium from the story's book origins. The cinematography easily gets an 8 out 10. A score that could have been a 10 out of 10 had the film been a complete narrative with fleshed out locations and character.

 
The cinematography easily gets an 8 out 10. A score that could have been a 10 out of 10 had the film been a complete narrative with fleshed out locations and character.- Doc Comeau
 

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, I think the film is an excellent attempt at telling the story of Dune but feels incomplete as it is incomplete. Every movie should serve as a stand alone film for general audiences in order to succeed in the market. I recommend watching this film as a fan in order to make HBO give us the rest of the narrative, but the critic in me tells me to tell you to just read the novel or wait until the concluding film is released and watch them both as one film.

 

References


1) IMDb.com. (2021, October 22). Dune. IMDb. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1160419/.


2) Dune 2021. Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dune_2021.