I really did not like the first Dune film so I certainly went into this one with a lot of reservations. Fortunately it is an improvement in every area. When you watch this version you can see how people could have the franchise up to be the next Star Wars. While I don’t think anything will be the next Star Wars, this one has a solid story and builds up a good universe. Throw in the fact that we should be getting the sequel pretty soon and this title has a whole lot of momentum. Ultimately if you like Sci-Fi then you should like this film.
The movie starts by introducing us to the setup of the world. The Emperor rules just about all of the solar systems and there are houses that are under him. Each house has its own ruler, army, and population. The main character Paul is the prince of the Atreides house and they’ve done rather well for themselves. Unfortunately they are suddenly given a mission by the Emperor to go and take control of Arrakis as the Baron will be pulling his people out. The kingdom isn’t thrilled about this since Arrakis is a desert wasteland that is hard to survive in. Additionally their house has never gotten along with the Baron’s house so this seems to be a trap.
Meanwhile, Paul is not sure if he even wants to be king. Making this more complicated is the fact that he has been having a lot of dreams about Arrakis and a girl on that planet. The dreams range from her staring at him to seemingly stabbing him. He is also involved in some shady prophecy from his mother’s side of the family that he will be the chosen one. This will likely put him under an even greater spotlight which could make the emperor go against him. It’s going to be a difficult journey for Paul.
There’s a ton of world building here so that’s really just scratching the surface. I will say, the quicker you learn the names for each of the planets and houses, the quicker you will be able to not only understand the plot but really get into it. Memorizing the names is crucial here. The effects are pretty solid and definitely help for the fight scenes. It’s cool to see the barriers that the suit emits as they are quite unique. You can stop most projectiles but close range attacks get more dangerous.
The training fights Paul has to go through really show this effectively. Now I wouldn’t say the film is super action packed as I would call it more of an adventure but you do have the occasional battle. Duncan easily gets the best battle near the end of the film. He really shows off his skills and proves himself to be the best fighter in the army without a doubt. I wouldn’t say any of the musical themes stuck with me but as you go through the scenes there aren’t any distracting moments either.
As a main character Paul is decent. He can definitely panic a bit with the burden that he is given but for the most part he takes things well. He’s not as tough as he acts at times but his skills should keep on improving so that by the sequel he will be ready to engage anyone in combat. As it stands he is already powerful enough to beat many fighters in a 1 on 1 situation.
As for his mother Jessica, she was quite impressive here. She has mastered “the voice” which is an ability that lets you mind control someone just by talking. It’s very handy to have and she can also fight hand to hand as well. The scene where she and Paul take on some fighters near the end was a really good showing there. Her pact involving the prophecy could certainly end up being troublesome so we’ll see what choices she makes going forward.
Paul’s father Leto is also solid here. I thought he did well at leading his kingdom and it’s hard to blame him for how things turned out. I don’t feel like he had a realistic option of turning down the Emperor’s order. It was going to happen whether he made it easy or not. Then for the invasion, well every factor was against him and it’s hard to win like that. Leto seemed like a good man and at the end of the day that’s all you can really ask for.
Duncan’s the best character in the film by far though. He is a true adventurer through and through. He keeps up a fun attitude throughout the story and takes a lot of the risks. Duncan doesn’t back down from a fight and serves as a great role model for Paul. Gurney is another good character here. He’s tough like Duncan and is always willing to speak his mind. I’d have liked to have seen some more action from him since I bet this guy can fight at a high level as well.
If the film has a main weak point it’s that none of the villains are particularly interesting. We don’t really see the Emperor yet and the guy Arrakis really exists to get wrecked by Paul. The Baron is someone who will have a big role but he just isn’t my kind of character. The guy doesn’t participate in the action unless his opponent can’t move. Baron needs to have the absolute advantage in every encounter which doesn’t speak well to his confidence. His son Glossu could be a fun enforcer but he hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot yet.
As for the main heroine Chani, she doesn’t even get to appear outside of dreams until the end so there isn’t much to say about her yet. Based on the dreams Paul has been having, he should definitely be careful around her. I could do without the constant dreams though. That’s one area where I feel the film could have shown the dreams once and we’d be good. It’s not like you will forget the dreams over the course of the movie so there’s no reason to show it again.
Some aspects of surviving on this desert planet can also be a bit gross like the whole recycled water bit. It reminds me why I prefer to be in more city type environments. That said, even in the film none of the characters want to be here so that tracks. Since the emperor seemingly set them up to fail, you wish that the heroes would have fought back instead of simply complying. They were likely doomed either way but better to turn and fight while you can then to slowly die out right? Ultimately the villains had really good execution on their plan though so it was definitely going to be tough to thwart them.
Overall, Dune sets the stage pretty well. In a lot of ways it does feel like the whole movie was the opening act so all of the events were set up well. The characters are interesting and the plot moves at a good pace. Both things that you would have a hard time saying about the first film. I can safely say this was a lot better than I had been expecting and of course you will get to see the sand worms with the updated graphics here so they look quite impressive. Once Paul masters all of his abilities we should be in for some more fun fights coming up.