December 5, 2021

“Dune” (2021) movie review: minor spoilers

Some movies just hit differently, you watch it and you just know that there is something special about them. “Dune” is one of those movies.

I guarantee this film wins an Oscar. Not because it is brilliant (I did not come close to falling in love with it), but because it is so artfully done. 

All the shots are pleasing to the eye and much of the movie is just so intense. 

The acting is astounding throughout and it has some wild social commentary.

The acting is brilliant and it makes you think about what is happening, mainly because a lot of the movie is so much longer than it needs to be that you start to get hopelessly lost and the Academy Awards love that sort of thing.

The first significant shot is simply Timothee Chalemet waking up in a cold sweat from a dream about Zendaya’s character, Chani, and then trying to use an off-brand version of the force from “Star Wars” to try to force his character’s mother (played by Rebecca Ferguson) to give him a glass of water at breakfast. 

Timothee Chalemet and Rebecca Ferguson star in Dune (2021). Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers gallery.

This sort of sets the tone for a lot of the movie, trying to make even the most basic of actions so intense and overblown they begin to lose all meaning. 

Logistically, this 2 hour and 35 minute movie is one half of the first book, which leads to the thought, “Wait we’re still on this part? I thought we moved on like 20 minutes ago,” because everything is so drawn out. 

It would be better if they put the entire first book into the same runtime, which would cut all the unnecessary bits and might actually keep you on your toes. 

The whole premise behind this movie is that one galactic superpower, the industrialist Harkonnen (which is closer to a massive drug cartel), and the more kind and civilized House Atreides (think big, imperial, and powerful government), are fighting over “Spice.”

This “Spice” is a natural resource that serves as the galaxy-wide currency that makes space travel possible and comes from the desert planet Arrakis, where much of the movie takes place. Think oil or coal; our world cannot really work without it. “Spice” is just as crucial for the “Dune” universe.

All the while, the long term residents and natives of Arrakis, the Fremen, are caught in the middle trying to remain neutral, while simultaneously trying to get both sides off their planet. It is all incredibly complicated. 

There are clear parallels between the history of our real-life world and the fictional one in “Dune” that takes place 8,000 years in the future. For example, the House Atreides is more like the U.S. 150 years ago, or Europe about 300 years ago, an expanding imperialistic superpower with a passion for taking other people’s land. 

Whereas the Harkonnen are a bit like modern North Korea, more oppressive and totalitarian. Not to mention massively powerful in terms of their military and giving it all they got, but sort of punching above their weight. 

The Fremen are more like an example of various native peoples around the world that had their land stolen from them, saw that land drained of its natural resources, and are trying to fight back while not getting blown out of existence. 

Overall, “Dune” is a solid movie, it was a good way to spend about two and a half hours. But there are better movies out there. In a way, the creators of this movie were perhaps a bit too ambitious and their would-be fantastic film sort of fell under its own weight.

Oh and yes, while Zendaya’s character is central to the plot, she has maybe half a dozen lines, all in the last 30 minutes.

  • Josh Conturo is a reporter for the Chimes and a fourth-year studying Emerging Media with an emphasis on journalism, and loves all things related to cars, coffee, and comedy.

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