Reviews of “Dune”

I guess I might see this, although I didn’t know the movie existed until poof! suddenly I’m seeing reviews here and there. Oh, I see it came out last Friday. Well, yes, I am almost completely disconnected from social media this year.

Anyway! Sounds good, but I would really rather watch it after the second half is made.

Although apparently there’s some question about whether the second half will get made? Depending on how the first half does at the box office? So maybe I should go see the first half now. I can always read the book again after seeing the movie, to help with the Aargh, where’s the other half? feeling.

Here’s the review that makes me want to go watch the movie. This is Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds. His review particularly focuses on worldbuilding.

There can be a habit in some movies or books to tell some of the background worldbuilding in a display of grand exposition — a voiceover, an encyclopedic chapter, a speech by a character Haughtily Explaining Things In A History Lesson. The story becomes a temporarily mouthpiece for Exposition Delivery. Now, the writing advice of Show Don’t Tell is well-meaning but not universally applicable, because sometimes it’s far more direct and empathetic to the audience to just tell them a thing rather than go through the shadow puppet play in order to demonstrate it. Just the same, it can also be true that Capital-T Telling can become very boring, very quickly. Nobody wants a story to be a lecture, even if that lecture is just trying to teach a class about its own history, culture, science, food, religion, what-have-you. This is especially true in film, where you need to be particularly judicious with your time. A minute of movie can be $100k or more in cost.

In Dune, Villeneuve is glad mostly to expect that the characters of this world know what’s happening, and to just move through it, and past it….

Yes, I personally detested the voiceover history lesson at the beginning of the Lord of the Rings.

When context clues aren’t enough, the worldbuilding is delivered in merciless, in-narrative experiences. When it’s time to know what a Stillsuit is, the narrative is allowed do double-duty in the story — it’s about the suit being fitted to the Duke and to Paul, and in that we get a host of vital narrative bits: we meet Liet Kynes; we see how fiercely protective Gurney is over Leto; we see that Paul is able to intuit things about Fremen life and culture, and also that Kynes recognizes it and is aware of the prophecy. It’s a lot of juiciness while simultaneously telling us what a Stillsuit is. Later, we learn of a “sand compactor,” and Villeneuve doesn’t stop to explain it — he’s just like, “Fuck you, it is what is says it is, and you’ll see it later, it’s fine.” Then he just ushers you past it.

This sounds like a really well-done movie! Or very well done in this respect, anyway.

Have any of you seen it? What did you think?

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5 thoughts on “Reviews of “Dune””

  1. I liked it, though it’s very hard for me to tell how well someone who didn’t know the background would be able to follow it (or be drawn in enough to wait for explanation to show up in part 2). I did like the look, and they did really well with making things like the shield technology understandable visually while integrating explanation into dramatic or action scenes.

    It’s definitely half a story. It comes to a stopping place more than an interim conclusion. (As the last line kind of lampshades.)

    Part 2 has been greenlit, and is currently supposed to come out in two years.

  2. I felt like the other movie should have been called Great Moments From Dune, and would only be comprehensible to someone who’d read the book. Sounds like you felt this one might also be difficult to follow for someone who didn’t have the background, but honestly, if it’s visually stunning, a lot of people might forgive being confused. I mean, I might.

    I’m glad the sequel is in progress. I think I might just wait for that. I’m seldom particularly impatient to see movies anyway.

  3. I didn’t like the book Dune. Its problematic parts were too problematic for me. I went to see the movie for its spectacle and to see how it dealt with the issues of bringing the book to film, but I didn’t go expecting to like the story.

    That said, I was pleased by a lot of the changes from the book. I enjoyed it visually, though there was very little color, as if a serious story can only be told in drab tones. The sound was fascinating, and I want to see it again just so I can pay more attention to the sound of it.

    My biggest problem was that the desert never felt like desert. Sand, heat and cold, and sunlight mostly lacked that extreme feeling they have in a real desert (I live in one). After watching Lawrence of Arabia I desperately wanted a drink of water. I didn’t have that feeling with Dune.

  4. Finally finished watching it. Took three sessions (and thank heavens for HBO Max that allows that). My wife and I loved it. I also really like having subtitles available on streaming version. My hearing’s not what it used to be.

  5. Kaylynn, that’s interesting, and I’ll have to pay attention to that feeling of “not really a desert” when I eventually watch the movie.

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