I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for this movie. Dune. The New Dune movie that is. Or rather Dune: Part 1. Yeah, that was a surprise even for me, a die-hard fan of the Frank Herbert book. But after the lengthy delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s finally here. In theaters and on HBO Max.
A Log And Thorny Road For The New Dune Movie
Yes, it was. Indeed. After it was postponed for almost a year (thanks to the pandemic of course), the new Dune arrived this month. But it was a long and thorny road to get it made. The first talks about the new Dune movie began in 2016 when the director Denis Villeneuve started negotiations. And at one point even Roger Deakins was the designated cinematographer. Sadly he’s not on the finished product, but hey. Once there was the slight possibility that he could be the DP of Dune. But the two-movie deal was secured in 2018. And I must say… It’s a risky move for Denis Villeneuve and Warner Bros Pictures. A movie adaptation from a book that’s notoriously unfilmable. Furthermore, a mid-80’s movie that’s a commercial and critical flop to a mini-series that nobody remembers now. And then came along a director that I adore, and made something different. But before I dive into what the difference is… Let’s take a closer look at the movie itself.
What’s The New Dune Movie All About?
Granted, keep in mind that the new Dune movie covers about half of the Dune book (more or less really). Hence the Dune Part 1 in the title. So, understandably, the movie ends at the halfway point of the story. And one major character suggesting, “This is just the beginning.” But yeah. In the center of the story is Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet). The heir to the noble House Atreides. He’s been groomed for greatness by his father, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). But in the middle of his father’s stewardship of Arrakis (the planet with the very powerful “melange”), he’ll start having visions about Arrakis. And as soon as Leto takes control of the spice mining operation, a harsh betrayal will take place. The event will lead both Paul and Jessica to the mysterious Arrakis, but what they’ll find there is the key.
Let’s face it. Dune is one hell of a space opera. And we wouldn’t be IndieGala if we didn’t provide with the gaming equivalent of that. We have plenty of great space opera video games. Such as Space Station Loma: OPERATIONS which is available here. And there’s the ever-popular Spacebase Startopia (check it out here). However, if you’re interested in video games that have space adventures, then you should head out here. Just click and take your pick.
OK. Back to the topic at hand. Dune.
New Dune Movie VS Old Dune Movie
Indeed. One can’t help but compare and make parallels between the two projects. Despite the almost 4 decades between them. Granted, the new Dune movie has better CGI and set pieces. But what else is different from the David Lynch version?
First, let me state that I enjoyed the new Dune movie. Despite being cut in half and despite not watching it in the movie theater. It’s a visually stunning movie with some of the strongest performances of 2021. Not to mention a confident and beautiful direction/cinematography partnership. You have Greig Fraser and Denis Villeneuve to thank for that. But the visceral experience goes beyond the direction and cinematography. Over here the set pieces are exquisite. And so are the costumes and the set design as well.
But the decision to split the movie into 2 parts seems like the worst decision for the new Dune movie. It messes up the pacing and it seems like the last third of the movie drags on forever. But one difference that I think made the movie for the better is trimming in voice-over. Oh my god. The narration here in the new Dune movie is appropriate and fits the story perfectly. Zendaya is in charge of that, but if you’re here about her, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Chani (her character) is mostly present in the last 20 minutes or so. You’ll just have to wait for the second part to see more of her.
Expanded Roles, Great Casting And Interesting Chemistry
Here’s another difference with David Lynch’s version. The new Dune movie gives a much bigger role to Lady Jessica. And I loved the relationship that he has with her son. It’s a much more close-knit and layered relationship here. You can clearly see that some thoughts were put into this part of the story, and I must applaud that.
But when I say there’s great casting here I mean it. From Rebecca Ferguson in the aforementioned Lady Jessica to the stoic and almost regal presence of Oscar Isaac. Oh how I adore Oscar Isaac. Yes, Josh Brolin is outstanding as Gurney Halleck and so is Javier Bardem as Stilgar. The leader of the Fremen tribe. The young Timothée Chalamet is quite good in the lead role of Paul Atreides. And coincidentally he’s the same age as Kyle Maclachlan when he played Paul in the 1984 version. But for me, the true MVPs are Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho and Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
The first for having fantastic chemistry with Paul, and the second for being so disgusting and despicable that will leave you with goosebumps long after you watch the movie. Oh and a side note here. Jason Momoa’s beard is almost like an extension of his character. It’s weird seeing him without one. Well, it was weird for me. But I digress. One other thing that I liked about the movie is how easily digestible and accessible it is. Meaning even without the stuffy narration (that didn’t do any favors to the 1984 movie) you can easily follow the progression now. Even with the slow pacing, the long screen time, and heck even if you haven’t read the book.
Dr. Liet-Kynes is now gender-swapped and in the new Dune, the movie is played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster. But I was surprised that only one of the Baron’s nephews is in the new version. Sting’s Feyd-Rautha is now omitted.
Heavy On Atmosphere Too
Oh yes, it is. But to be fair so are the rest of the Denis Villeneuve movies. Dune is no different really. He’s a masterful visual storyteller and I like that he puts tries to fix the flaws in the script with his talent. Sometimes he succeeds but sometimes the flaws work against him. Over here in Dune, he wages a war between the scope of the movie and pretty much everything else. The limitations of the script, the pacing it provides and the ever-present fear that he clearly has. Not to mention the atmosphere we grew accustomed to, when watching his movies. Over here, frames say so much more than words. But he’s got some inner demons to. Not to overstay his welcome with any aspect of the literary mammoth that it Dune. He doesn’t succeed but he’s trying his hardest that’s for sure. But all in all, it was a decent version of Dune. I enjoyed it for sure, especially in my miserable October quarantine.
But Are You A Fan Of The New Dune Movie?
Let us know if you are. Feel free to share what you loved (or hated) the most about this particular movie. Or the Part One of the Dune saga. Hit that comment section. Don’t be shy.