I haven’t been out to an actual movie in ages. Even though I’m officially a “senior” and can get discount prices, I still have darkened no theater doors. My best movie buddy, Linda, moved to California (why, Linda, why???) so it hasn’t been as much fun.
For the most part, I’ve been happy enough watching movies on Pay Per View, or when they came out on Prime Video, Apple TV, or Netflix. I don’t watch the Oscars™ anymore, so I don’t have to keep track of what’s the favorite trending movie. I just watch what I watch.
And then came Dune. The new one. Dammit.
Let me explain.
Frank Herbert’s masterpiece has been around for over 50 years and has garnered its own cult following. Not only because of the original work but because of the Dune universe that Mr. Herbert created.
There have been several cinema iterations of Dune, and each one has had varying degrees of success. David Lynch’s Dune is the most famous, and for a variety of reasons, the most disdained. And I understand why, especially if you’ve only seen the general release version. The extended version fleshed out the story far more, even with the wonky (by today’s standards) special effects. Although it was far from complete, it still touched on most of the important themes of the book.
My best movie buddy, Linda, moved to California (why, Linda, why???) so it hasn’t been as much fun.
The SyFy version was closer to the book even though the costumes were pretty laughable. There were several missteps with casting, but I think that’s a discussion for real Dune nerds.
And then there’s the new version. Before I even begin, I have to say that Timothée Chalamet is the closest to my mind’s version of Paul Atreides. I thought that Kyle McLaughlin was pretty good in the 1984 version, but Alec Newman in the SyFy version was way, way too old to play a 15-year-old boy. Or at least he looked way too old.
Timothée Chalamet not only looked the part of a teenager, but he acted the part as well. He was very believable as a teen.
Before I speak any more about the movie, let me share my movie food. Like most people, when I go to a theater, I get popcorn, a drink of some sort, and candy. While candy is optional, the popcorn isn’t.
My popcorn was Black Jewell black popcorn (which pops up snow white) that I’d drizzled with brown butter and Maldon salt. My drink was 2019 Laetitia Chardonnay, Estate Grown. Generally, I prefer Rombauer Chardonnay because its buttery character is perfect with popcorn. But the more restrained Laetitia worked fine. Instead of candy, I had black seedless grapes. The cost was more or less free because I already had everything on hand. The only out-of-pocket expense was signing up to HBO Max, which will cost me $12.00 through Dish. Fortunately, they had a whole special going on which gave me all the HBO channels at that price for a year. Maybe I can catch old episodes of Game of Thrones? We’ll see.
Anyway, I digress.
As a mid-tier Dune nerd, there were several things that stood out to me, both good and bad.
- Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho. Ain’t nothin’ bad about that! <<spoiler alert!>> He comes back to life in the book, too.
- I think I liked the David Lynch sandworms better.
- A black woman plays the Planetologist, Liet Kynes. While the role could technically be non-gender-specific, Max von Sydow will always be Liet Kynes in my mind. And, of course, the book.
- Not enough about the Bene Gesserit. And speaking of the Bene Gesserit, the scene with Paul, Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, and the Gom Jabbar, not enough information about the ritual was explained. If you didn’t know the Dune backstory, could seem almost pointless.
- I liked the fingerspelling.
- After the ‘thopter (ornithopter in the book) crashed in the desert, Paul and Jessica had to run to a rock outcropping in order to avoid a sandworm attack. That scene appears in both the book and in the Lynch movie. There seemed to be a lot of non-book “stuff” that happened before that scene took place. I’ll have to rewatch in order to figure out the reasoning behind making such a big change.
- Speaking of the ‘thopters, they were terrific looking!
- The Mélange eyes were accurately blue on blue, and not glowing blue like the SyFy version. What was up with that?
- Thufir Hawat, the Mentat for the Atreides family, had a streak of black in the middle of his lips rather than having the red sapho juice-stained lips as described by Herbert.
- And if this turns out to be a trilogy, I’m good with that. And so are you! The original Star Wars and Lord of the Rings got us used to enjoying long movies in parts. I for one would rather not spend ten hours in a theater watching a single movie.
And there’s one thing that I’d like to point out that hasn’t been discussed much.
The terms and languages used in the book are an interesting mix of languages. Melange (French), Atreides (Greek), Vladimir (Russian), and more, such as Arabic and Hebrew. I won’t say any more because that would include several spoilers!
So that’s about it for my review. I liked the movie enough to watch it again, and hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out some of the reasoning behind the movie plot. You know how it is. The movie is almost NEVER as good as the original. Whether it’s the Ten Commandments or Dune.
One more thing. I hope Dune Part Two comes out sooner rather than later. We’re all still waiting for the Avatar sequel that James Cameron promised!