now don’t get me wrong: is dune (2021) an absolute mood piece?? YES, and the mood is SOMBRE, and UNEASY, and SUSPENSEFUL, and also bloody GORGEOUS. i am so here for the brutalist architecture (down to the ships!! hell yes!!), the costumes, hans zimmer’s unsettling and evocative score, the muted desert palette, the cast, just the overall ~vibes~ of it all, holy sh*t. it’s everything i love about sci-fi, on a macro level.
…except it’s not a full movie though. somewhere between getting all the individual details adapted right (or so i’m told) and making sure the film is crafted perfectly from all angles, someone forgot to tell a damn story, or to make me care about the fate of any person involved in it. i have not read the books, and so don’t already have a base knowledge of who these people are, or why i should care if they die or not. i had a distinct moment while watching the film (around the climactic big action scene, funnily enough) where i thought “huh… the POV is absolutely arbitrary. if they all die right now i wouldn’t even be sad about it”.
i’m gonna hazard a guess and say that’s probably not the desired effect denis villeneuve was going for here.
maybe it’ll all come together with part 2, which is now confirmed for a 2023 release, and you bet i’m absolutely going to go see it and bathe myself in the sombre brutalist gorgeousness of it all… but i would have liked this to work on its own, too. much like any part of any series (whether book/tv/film), it ought to have its own narrative arc, a beginning/middle/end, an emotional journey with catharsis and trepidation that could’ve left us at a cliffhanger where the uncertain fate of these characters actually meant something. as it stands, it’s 2.5 hours of beginning, and while i feel like i know the broad strokes of the world and some of the people in it, i simultaneously don’t really know anything, or care about anyone, and that’s a damn shame.
verdict: ⭐⭐⭐; was considering giving it an extra star because of the ~vibe~ being perfect, but alas, that does not a good movie make. i really wanted to like this more than i did ☹️