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EV13SON
22-10-21, 21:58
Arrakis...Dune...desert planet...

Such a great literary work, I actually enjoyed just reading the prologue in the original Dune novel the most. Frank Herbert's prescient imagining of Man's progress, how machines and AI would be used to enslave mankind and how a revolt would lead to their outlaw and give rise to savant like human computers. The condensing of the worlds greatest religions after much conflict into a single one that seemed to skew more towards Islam. Our continued dependence on scarce natural resources to fuel our travel and economies, and the home world ecology which all seemed to exemplify some form of today's debates on climate change, from the extremely dry Arrakis to the flooded home world of Caladan, and the highly polluted unregulated industrial waste world Geidi Prime. The political intrigue and corruption of mankind lives on with powerful wealthy oligarchic families backstabbing one another to secure their legacies and influence for generations to come. And finally we have the powerful psychoactive metaphysical aspects of the spice that unlock and put into question the very physics of our world.

Unfortunately I found Dennis Villanueve's interpretation a little dull, it pretty much followed David Lynch's screenplay shot by shot, but I found David Lynch had a greater visual style, Dennis's is far more sterile and bland. The actor's also felt overly muted and underused they didn't stand out like they did in Lynch's adaptation. Granted I liked the shields, and the ornithopters, which were more true to the book, but I found the worms lacked the character of Lynch's...whose were much more awe inspiring. I enjoy the soundtrack on it's own but it didn't have the same effect when paired with the movie again it was way too muted...Perhaps this is an artistic interpretation of the lifeless and vastness of the desert on Villanueve's part, but even in Herbert's novel we get a sense that the desert still has life and an ecosystem, just enough for hardy creatures to adapt to and survive. So in the end I found myself sleeping through this first part of the series, I really hope Dennis can awaken the sleeper in me in part two, otherwise I worry he is not going to have an audience left to justify a part 3...

If you want a similar sci fi series I highly suggest watching "The Foundation" on Apple + it has a similar philosophical story, ultimately Frank Herbert wanted to use Dune as a way to argue against the dangers of Messiah figures and how religious zealotry can wipe out human progress. These stories are important and relevant they are critiques on the dangers of unchecked corrupt oligarchs as well as the dangers of having a large ignorant population because they are tinder when paired with a demagogue more so if religion is involved...The Sci Fi's adaption of Dune is probably my most preferred in terms of following the original novel. Lynch's was maligned with the horrible inner monologues and some of the acting is a little cringe worthy, however the creative steam punk visuals are hard to match.

Angela
29-10-21, 17:12
I just saw Dune last night, and read a few reviews this morning. Most of them are pretty glowing, but like you I was a bit underwhelmed, although perhaps for different reasons.

The film is visually stunning imo, and I do like the sterility of it, and the effects, but that's about it for where my 100% appreciation stands.

I'm an avid Dune series fan, having read all of the books numerous times, so perhaps that's why the movie seemed so "thin" to me. Where is the explanation for the "mentats" and indeed even a real demonstration of their powers? In that vein, why no mention of Thufir's judgment of Jessica and why it was important for the outcome? Why no explanation of Suk doctors? I also feel Jessica got a bad rap; the book makes it very clear that her most crucial decision was made out of love for Duke Leto. Where the film really did a bad job, imo, is in its portrayal of Duke Harkonnen. Here he just comes off as a weird fat guy who might as well be the head of the Russian Mafia. In the books he was beyond disgusting; constantly shoving food into his mouth, much more fat, with pustules on his face, and a man who delighted in raping and then killing little boy after little boy. In that regard, the Lynch movie was better, imo. The choice between Harkonnen and Atreides for the Atreides men and the other Great Houses was crystal clear.

I also found the casting discordant. I get why they made the choices they made; people like me would watch the movie no matter what, but they hoped to snag a young audience. That's why they cast Chalamet and Kendaya. He, at least, can act, even if he's way too fragile and "girlish" looking imo to be Paul Atreides. Maybe she'll improve, but Josh Brolin just absolutely fails to capture Gurney Halleck, imo. Where is the poet/musician with the quirky humor? Bardem playing Stilgar is a miss as well for me. He doesn't have the gravitas necessary, and what the hell is a Spanish accent doing in the midst of al this? The Fremen have one native Spanish speaker among them? Did all the ethnic groups have to be represented, down to the accent? Momoa, while sure to please a lot of viewers with his physique and one liners, and I do like him in certain parts, also doesn't have the necessary gravitas to play Duncan Idaho. Dave Bautista as the Harkonnen nephew Beast Rabban does a good job, but where is the younger nephew, the fey, effeminate, poisonous character played by Sting in the Lynch movie? What? Gay men can't be portrayed as evil now? The real standout by far in terms of acting, imo, was Rebecca Ferguson as Jessica, and Chalamet is also good in his portrayal of Paul, at least as far as the acting goes.

EV13SON
29-10-21, 23:33
It has been so many years since I've read the novel Angela, but when you mentioned Thufir's distrust of Jessica it jarred my memories, that is a great tension that would have added much to the film. The acting talent is there, but I agree Josh Brolin is missing the humorous warrior troubadour that Frank Herbert was going for that Patrick Stewart delivered in the prior adaptation. On a second viewing I finally connected who Stellan Skarsgard was channeling for the Baron...Marlon Brando's Col. Kurtz which is a more psychological villain and more of the Emperor's role in the novel. I'm glad they are planning to wrap up the story in part two, hopefully the choices in casting and screenwriting for the Emperor, Princess, and Feyd will be better. The movie could still serve as a good intro into a Dune Messiah television series, where you could pick up from with an older Paul Atriedes and Chani, and I could see Jason reprising his Duncan Idaho role throughout since he's a sci fi fan favorite. I also enjoyed Rebecca Ferguson as well, I think she captured what Frank Herbert was going for in the novel, and you had me rolling on Javier's thick Spanish accent :D. It reminded me of Garard Depardieu back in the day when they loved casting him for lead roles and I could barely understand a word! lol I do like Javier I don't mind if he switches over to speaking full on Spanish in part two, but it helps having a Spanish speaking mum who taught me the ancient tongue :P.

Angela
30-10-21, 05:53
It has been so many years since I've read the novel Angela, but when you mentioned Thufir's distrust of Jessica it jarred my memories, that is a great tension that would have added much to the film. The acting talent is there, but I agree Josh Brolin is missing the humorous warrior troubadour that Frank Herbert was going for that Patrick Stewart delivered in the prior adaptation. On a second viewing I finally connected who Stellan Skarsgard was channeling for the Baron...Marlon Brando's Col. Kurtz which is a more psychological villain and more of the Emperor's role in the novel. I'm glad they are planning to wrap up the story in part two, hopefully the choices in casting and screenwriting for the Emperor, Princess, and Feyd will be better. The movie could still serve as a good intro into a Dune Messiah television series, where you could pick up from with an older Paul Atriedes and Chani, and I could see Jason reprising his Duncan Idaho role throughout since he's a sci fi fan favorite. I also enjoyed Rebecca Ferguson as well, I think she captured what Frank Herbert was going for in the novel, and you had me rolling on Javier's thick Spanish accent :D. It reminded me of Garard Depardieu back in the day when they loved casting him for lead roles and I could barely understand a word! lol I do like Javier I don't mind if he switches over to speaking full on Spanish in part two, but it helps having a Spanish speaking mum who taught me the ancient tongue :P.

Very good insight about Skarsgard; it does indeed seem as if he's playing Col. Kurtz. :)

Well, poor Bardem; he's a very good actor, but I just think he was woefully miscast. At the best of times, if he's not really careful it can indeed be very difficult to understand him. It's not that he has a Spanish accent; imo it's that his diction just isn't very good, and in this movie where he's speaking against wind or worm noise he's definitely a challenge! I mean, at times it gave me a feeling like I was watching Ricky Ricardo chatting away while no one really understands him. :)

With Barden, Penelope Cruz, virtually all the Italian actors and actresses, I think they do their best work in the films made in their native country. I own a DVD of Volver and I've watched it often; I think she's brilliant in it, and I get to listen to Spanish, Spanish, the Spanish I learned in school. :) Hollywood usually doesn't know what to do with them.