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Dune (2021) Denis Villeneuve's Film

Moe_Syzlak

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It’s very interesting to hear this take. Of course I’m familiar with the Dune story and it is a complex one I wouldn’t call bland in the least. I don’t personally remember the overly expository scene you describe but I wonder if the movie maybe focuses its exposition in the wrong places. The story of Dune is one of political intrigue that is not a simple Hero’s Journey IMO. I do very much agree that, despite the actors all feeling like they are well cast and doing a good job, there is little emotional investment in the characters. They are just people doing things. I obviously liked it more than you. But it was still a lukewarm endorsement for me.
 

mnkykungfu

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It strikes me that some of these criticisms might be the same for the older film, and for the novel. Herbert's exposition killed the novel for me. Paragraphs and paragraphs of tangent explanations with the story just crawling forward. It's a cold novel as well, intellectually stimulating, not emotionally investing. That will appeal to some, not to others. I thought Lynch's film actually managed to stoke a decent bit of emotion, which was an accomplishment. I totally agree with @Moe_Syzlak that the film is more than "the hero's journey". Nowadays, that's just so talked about that it's easy to pick up. People might not care to dig into the political references, the philosophy, the religious parallels. But they're all there, waiting for audience members to respond to them. I haven't seen the new film yet, but perhaps it's actually too loyal to the spirit of the source material to get a broad audience enthused. That would be par for the course with Villeneuve.
 

DigModiFicaTion

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It's interesting to read these responses. I've tried to watch the original more than a few times, but always end up doing something else after boredom. I've found that for me, the union of visual and audio are the key to evoking an emotional response. I loved BR2049 for this very reason. The visuals are fantastic and Hans Zimmer is one the best at adding a fourth dimension to the experience. Knowing that these two are reunited for this project gives me hope, even though I'm reading that this film might not be the best.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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The movie is new so who knows whether it will have legs, but we’re in Paris this weekend and just passed a cinema with a huge line for Dune. *shrug*
 

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I imagine the film will do well with audiences in Europe and countries willing to appreciate a slower approach to science fiction. In the US, many simply associate science fiction with star wars so if Dune isn't a space opera they're not going to turn up in large numbers. I hope it does well enough to at least finish the first book, but this is just a movie that general audiences in the US are not going to flock to go and see.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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I imagine the film will do well with audiences in Europe and countries willing to appreciate a slower approach to science fiction. In the US, many simply associate science fiction with star wars so if Dune isn't a space opera they're not going to turn up in large numbers. I hope it does well enough to at least finish the first book, but this is just a movie that general audiences in the US are not going to flock to go and see.

Unfortunately, I agree. I had hoped, as I mentioned early in the thread before seeing the film, that they would’ve added a bit more comedy and a bit more emotional investment in the characters as I think mass audiences will respond to that more. Im glad to get a more faithful adaptation, of course, but I’m skeptical it will justify its budget enough to green light the second part. Not taking anything away from Marvel’s success (if it were easy to replicate many would have), but this isn’t that. It isn’t fast food where you know you’re going to get a good dopamine fix and then forget about it entirely an hour later. But I also think that only seeing one half also doesn’t lend itself to being pondered over like the full story would. I saw it almost a week ago and I haven’t been thinking about it much. *sigh* I just hope the second part gets made.
 

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I saw the new Dune, and after loving Blade Runner 2049, I am shocked how much I disliked Villeneuve's take on Dune. Aside from quality special FX and action scenes, Dune 2021 offers nothing that David Lynch didn't do much better almost 40 years ago.

From production design to color grading to acting, music, pacing and most importantly tone, the new movie is a mess.
Villeneuve tries so hard to be cinematic here. He goes in for closeups, with short focal range, trying to make scenes intimate, but only succeeds in making the movie feel small where Lynch's felt grand and spaceous.
Gone is the splendid decor of the 84 version, the eerie industrial hellscapes of Giedi Prime, gone is the Emperor (entirely), the politics, the guild, the opening narration easing you into Herbert's vast sci fi universe, instead replaced by cookie cutter nonsense about oppression that we've heard a million times before.
Everything that was memorable about Lynch's original is either dumbed down or gone. The internal monologues, the shock quality of the Harkonnens, the freaky bald headed Bene Gesserit or the vagina face guild navigator - Warner took the edge off the new movie to make it palatable to Chinese audiences. It's a bland, McDonalds like fast food meal, unironically served entirely without spices or artistic vision.
Hans Zimmer, whom I normally enjoy, drops the ball here, with the soundtrack blaring and waling at moments that call for a quiet soundtrack. Nothing comes close to the spiritual, ethereal soundtrack of the original. Or even the video game soundtrack by Stephane Picq, which was hauntingly beautiful and unique.

The actor's accents also don't mesh well. Accents are all over the place, with some characters nearly impossible to understand without subtitles. Jason Momoa feels like he's doing an entirely different film, and aside from Rebecca Fergusson and Timothée Chalamet, most of the acting is objectively bad. The Harkonnens are generic boring black dressed sci fi villains, with Stellan Skarsgard sleepwalking through his few lines. Utterly boring compared to Kenneth MacMillan's maniical floating Lunatic Baron in the original.
Villeneuve's universe feels disjointed, uninspired, colorless, sterile and small.

Is it all bad? Well, the first worm attack looked great (and for once the soundtrack fit the footage). And the action scenes were more competently shot.
And it's not another lame superhero movie, so it's got that going for it. I don't doubt that Villeneuve's heart was in the right place, but his reach far exceeded his grasp with this one.
If I was Warner, I would bury this one and either get Lynch out of retirement, or throw a bunch of money at whoever is still around from the old Westwood and Cryo Game studios, and let them helm it.
 

lapis molari

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... gone is the Emperor (entirely), the politics, the guild...
No Emperor? No politics? But... that's at the core of Frank Herbert's story.
(in Darth Vader voice) NOOOOOOOOOOO!

 

asterixsmeagol

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Yeah, Villeneuve has talked about how he decided where to split the movie, and rearranging some scenes introducing characters that don't get a payoff in the first part. I haven't seen it yet so I can't judge whether I agree with his choices, but at least we know they weren't arbitrary omissions.
 

mnkykungfu

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I saw the new Dune, and after loving Blade Runner 2049, I am shocked how much I disliked Villeneuve's take on Dune. Aside from quality special FX and action scenes, Dune 2021 offers nothing that David Lynch didn't do much better almost 40 years ago.

From production design to color grading to acting, music, pacing and most importantly tone, the new movie is a mess.
Villeneuve tries so hard to be cinematic here. He goes in for closeups, with short focal range, trying to make scenes intimate, but only succeeds in making the movie feel small where Lynch's felt grand and spaceous.
Gone is the splendid decor of the 84 version, the eerie industrial hellscapes of Giedi Prime, gone is the Emperor (entirely), the politics, the guild, the opening narration easing you into Herbert's vast sci fi universe, instead replaced by cookie cutter nonsense about oppression that we've heard a million times before.
Everything that was memorable about Lynch's original is either dumbed down or gone. The internal monologues, the shock quality of the Harkonnens, the freaky bald headed Bene Gesserit or the vagina face guild navigator - Warner took the edge off the new movie to make it palatable to Chinese audiences. It's a bland, McDonalds like fast food meal, unironically served entirely without spices or artistic vision.
Hans Zimmer, whom I normally enjoy, drops the ball here, with the soundtrack blaring and waling at moments that call for a quiet soundtrack. Nothing comes close to the spiritual, ethereal soundtrack of the original. Or even the video game soundtrack by Stephane Picq, which was hauntingly beautiful and unique.

The actor's accents also don't mesh well. Accents are all over the place, with some characters nearly impossible to understand without subtitles. Jason Momoa feels like he's doing an entirely different film, and aside from Rebecca Fergusson and Timothée Chalamet, most of the acting is objectively bad. The Harkonnens are generic boring black dressed sci fi villains, with Stellan Skarsgard sleepwalking through his few lines. Utterly boring compared to Kenneth MacMillan's maniical floating Lunatic Baron in the original.
This accurately describes everything I had feared it would be from the very first trailer. :cry:
 

Moe_Syzlak

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Well I disagree somewhat with the above assessment. I mean I think everyone has their own ideas of what Dune is or should be, whether from a close attachment to the book(s) or (some version) of the Lynch film. As I stated previously, I actually quite like (edited) versions if the Lynch film. As such, I found this new version to be lacking in offering much new. But where it differs I was often in favor of the new choices. For example, lack of a protracted monologue introduction or voice over inner monologues. A film should, for me, be treated differently than a book. I also find the emotional connection with characters lacking in every version of Dune, book and film. This version is no exception. That said, there is definitely a Guild (though not prominently featured) and definitely politics and the film doesn’t in any way shy away from the political commentary that is probably more relevant today than at the time of publishing let alone when Lynch released his version. But the movie still failed to grab me. It felt too similar. I would argue it was too faithful. It’s a story that, in my opinion, on film. needs more opportunities for us to relate to the characters emotionally, to laugh and break the relentless weight of this myth. In my opinion it didn’t go far enough. Many who love the book(s) will call that heresy. But a movie is not a book. It must be adapted. How it is adapted is always going to ruffle some feathers. I guess I’m of the mind that it wasn’t adapted enough. A huge problem with this version, though, is that it doesn’t even feel like half a story. It feels like a first act. It is all set up and no pay off. For sheer curiosity’s sake I want to see the pay off.
 

TheTVEditor

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I already saw Dune, and I have to say that I am EXTREMLY biased to say anything about this movie. But I was blown away with the sheer scope and size of the film, it's truly grandiose. This is the Dune adaptation that I wanted to see. The colors for me are just correct, and they looked slightly different from the trailers, a little more vivid. (don't know if it will on some screenings). The trailers truly know how to deceive it's audience, throwing the only jokes in the entire movie and action sequences, but the film density is far more richer than what was showed.

It is exactly as I imagined the book to be when I first read, everything, designs, scenes, the soundtrack - which is not Hans Zimmer's best, but is up there. Honestly, it's crazy that they've accomplished this with a lesser budget than the Marvel films.

I liked the 1984 Spicediver's version, but the theatrical and extended TV versions are a mess in my opinion, liked it, but not enough.
For me, this is the perfect adaptation of Dune, it will not be for everyone, however. The pacing felt a little odd but it did not bother me so much as it would be a distracting thing like in The Rise of Skywalker or Blade Runner 2049, it has enough action sequences to keep you hooked in but the overall movie could benefit some trimming. The movie whilst is not a page-by-page adaptation of Herbert's work, it is at it's soul a faithful adaptation what the feel of the universe is.

Also, in my opinion, this is the best depiction of the Harkonnen, brutal, cold, merciless. They are genuinely bone chilling, if a younger child saw them they would be scared as hell. They are not the slap-stick ridiculousness that were portrayed in the 1984 movie and the miniseries where they were made as generic and over-reactor villains from something out of Batman and Robin.

Villeneuve has done a better job than anyone could ask for. He left out a lot of the more political details and intrigues present in the original novel, but kept just enough for us to know what's the political context of the universe, and that's for the better, the information overload would have been difficult to follow for most, like in the David Lynch movie where it's so much exposition dump that it just turns out to be confusing. We do have exposition dialogue but it felt natural and not forced nor contrived. As I see it, the plot and characters did not feel dumbed down, it still dense and strong enough to have that feeling of satisfaction by the end of it.

The visuals and the soundtrack are hauntingly beautiful and they convert precisely what Herbert's works are. I got goosebumps almost throughout the entire movie.

That being said, Dune is definitely a part one. It serves as The Fellowship of the Ring does to the Two Towers. The last shot really resembles the ending of TFOTR, to be honest, maybe too much. The movie serves as a stepping stone for both character and world building that will be explored more in the sequel. If you are looking for action, part two will be the movie to be waiting for.

For the general audience, I think most will understand the movie without any problems, even those who are not familiar with the books. I went see with some friends of mine who are not familiar at all with Herbert's work and were still (if not even more) speechless than me. I would say the general audience is going to like this movie - maybe even love it. Although it will NOT be for everyone, I believe it will please most and maybe open space for more Dune films beyond Messiah.
 

15MaF

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I've yet to see the film, but having listened to the soundtrack earlier, I'm already rolling my eyes at how Zimmer over played his cliche style yet again. It's all sound design and atonal mood - and for sure he is very excellent at atonal mood. It even starts off with promise that it might develop into something somewhat tuneful or melodic, something more than his 2049 blunderbuss did (reprising tears in rain at the end doesn't count). It's surely more layered and subtle than 2049 and it's placement in the feature when I see it could yet justify it's design, but it still falls down for me. Admittedly with delicate execution, the last half is a creative cul-de-sac of modular crescendos that don't really linger in the mind. I think Zimmer generates some outstanding textures and monotone scaffolding, but that he draws it all out too far in repetition and spreads it too thin. Much of it fails to be quite fully fledged or tonally satiated. They never meander far from his prescriptive palette/bible of notes and riffs - He stays in his comfort zone almost always.

I might seem harsh here, but he was following a universally well received predecessor that set a very high bar in 1984.

The full Villeneuve spectacle may ask me to change my mind of course. The reviews will flood in soon, so I shall have make an effort and see it.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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I believe you’re both wrong. I think he’s referring to the 1984 Dune score. I don’t generally like what Zimmer does, so I’ve not really commented on the score. I found it forgettable. I like a different sort of score that is more melodic. But Zimmer does something different and it may very well work for many people. I think a re-score edit would something I’d be interested in. And not just re-scoring with the Toto score.
 

Amok

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I believe you’re both wrong. I think he’s referring to the 1984 Dune score. I don’t generally like what Zimmer does, so I’ve not really commented on the score. I found it forgettable. I like a different sort of score that is more melodic. But Zimmer does something different and it may very well work for many people. I think a re-score edit would something I’d be interested in. And not just re-scoring with the Toto score.

Yes, he meant the score. I agree that a rescore of the film could be interesting, but probably very hard to pull off. The Toto soundtrack would probably work, since many of the scenes are similar between the new and old films. Or maybe the Dune mini series soundtrack could be used. The Children of Dune soundtrack in particular was very good.
 

TheTVEditor

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Yes, he meant the score. I agree that a rescore of the film could be interesting, but probably very hard to pull off. The Toto soundtrack would probably work, since many of the scenes are similar between the new and old films. Or maybe the Dune mini series soundtrack could be used. The Children of Dune soundtrack in particular was very good.
I am planning to test a Neon Dune edit, with a new color grade and music from the original Blade Runner and other Vangelis works, I think it suits the movie well.

As much as I loved the soundtrack, the movie would benefit with a melodic theme, it would be a lot more memorable. A tune that when people heard it they would immediately associate with Dune.
 

orchidal

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Lynch's big battle scenes were awful. I wonder if someone could recolor grade the new film's mass battle and redshirt fight sequences and then toss them into the Spicediver cut. Haven't seen it so not sure if the uniforms will be compatible.
 
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