Villeneuve’s Dune

I hadn’t planned to see the new Dune movie because I thought it was only going to be shown in theaters, but then I got a targeted ad on social media and noticed it was streaming on HBO, which I thought had to be a mistake. Checked HBO. Not a mistake. “Well, I guess I’m watching Dune tonight,” I said to My Darling B. “I guess I am, too,” she replied.

She liked it. I didn’t not like it. I thought it was gorgeous. Every scene. Just gorgeous. But I thought it was more like a trailer for movie Dune than an actual movie. Characters, and the relationships between then, were undeveloped. Paul and Duncan and Gurney were best friends, for example, yet in this movie they barely spoke to one another. Vladimir Harkonnen is a towering evil presence throughout the book but makes what could only charitably be called cameo appearances in this movie. (What a waste of Stellan Skarsgard’s talents.) Whole story arcs were condensed into scant seconds of screen time. The betrayal of house Atriedes by Doctor Yueh, for example, was a pretty major sub-plot in the book, but in the movie nobody mentions it until Yueh pulls the trigger, and he’s on screen for maybe two minutes.

The whole movie was like that. It had grandeur, it had the feel of a movie with massive production values, but it felt like a fast-cut trailer for a four-part space opera that should have gone on for at least six more hours. I couldn’t help feeling disappointed.

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