Dune (2021) Review


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.

Overall 7/10

Dune Review


It’s time to look at a very ambitious film with a huge character roster. This was clearly trying to be a big Star Wars/Lord of the Rings kind of experience. You could also make some similarities to Game of Thrones purely from a plot perspective where you have 3 kingdoms fighting for control. In the midst of this you also have the rebels making noise. Unfortunately while the film starts out with some promise and will grab your interest, it loses this shortly afterwards. The film then continues its spiral of descent until you walk away thinking that this was a terrible movie.

The movie starts with showing us the Emperor as he is greeted by his boss. The monster lets him know that the son of the Duke has to be murdered right away. It would seem that he has some ties to the spice and the holy water so they need to remove the threats right away. The Emperor is fine with this as he likes murdering people off anyway. His plan is to have World A take down World B and then he’ll get World C to beat A. With all of the forces sufficiently weakened then he’ll be able to finish off the Duke. Additionally he has a man on the inside so he figures this will be pretty easy. Then he can go back to manufacturing the spice.

In this world, the Spice is the greatest resource of all. It allows you to gain cosmic consciousness and it can extent your life to a great degree. Here’s the problem, only the chosen few can actually use it. According to the main character, everyone else has died who tried to use it. It makes you question a bit why the spice is such a hot commodity but I suppose just the possibility that you can use it for eternal life is a promising prospect. I still feel like it’s not huge though. I also have to question how the Duke’s planet didn’t do better in the war. Their abilities seem to far outstrip the other planets when you think about it. They can use their words to force opponents to listen to them (Only top nobles have this power) and they can also turn their words into energy blasts. The latter seems like a common skill as they taught it to the rebels quite fast. I’ll chalk this up to their never teaching anyone because it wasn’t necessary at the time.

Where the film really goes wrong is that it goes from Zany to just grotesque and mean spirited very quickly. Mainly this is due to the inclusion of the villainous Baron. The Baron is made to be a very grotesque creature who goes around blowing people up and we get a pointless scene where he eats an animal. Any scene with him is bound to be quite violent or gross, sometimes a mix of both. The film definitely pushes the boundaries quite hard for a PG-13 film as I’d say you could make a solid case for this going to the next level. This is really where the film trips up. The Baron has numerous scenes and they are all completely terrible. The film goes for max grit the whole time and it takes away from all the other plots. It gets to the point where you want to automatically skip any scene with the Baron to get back to the other plots.

Paul’s plot is the most interesting by far. His planet made for a good background and the hero was introduced as a good fighter from the start so it’s easy to see why he was so resourceful later on. I would have liked to have seen him use the crystal barrier technique a little more but to be fair, that move doesn’t seem all that useful in this world since “slow” objects can pierce it. Naturally the villains know this so they put it to good use. It did make for a fun fight scene near the beginning but in a way it was also pointless. If you cut the crystal shield out of the film then absolutely nothing changes which is pretty much the definition of filler.

The movie is rather long but I’d say the pacing is solid. There are a lot of characters and factions running around as I said so you need that time to develop them. Then every faction has some key players and traitors running around so that has to be accounted for as well. An interesting thing the film did here is letting us hear the character’s thoughts the whole time. In books there tends to be a lot of inner monologue that is left out of movie/TV adaptions. I think this is a pretty natural way to show those thoughts and it would work well in many other films as well. Of course here it was to remind us that the characters have telepathy so there are no real secrets to be had, but that doesn’t change the base concept which is pretty solid either way.

The effects for the fight scenes are okay, but maybe a little sub-par. I liked the backgrounds and scenery, those were handled well. It feels like the film copped out of using real effects a lot of the time though like with the heroes having guns that shoot invisible bullets made out of their words. It’s not like you could grab any kind of effects from that. So from a visual standpoint it could have been a little better but I suppose the fight scenes weren’t the main thing to focus on here. The writing was okay I guess, but the movie did little to show me how Paul and his forces were able to defeat the Emperor’s. The Emperor had legions of ships and yet they all flew low in orbit so they could be crushed by Worms and blasted by the ground forces. Why not just blow up the planet at that point or target Paul from long distance? The only real answer is that they didn’t have the technical ability to target Paul from afar in which case their tech isn’t all that great.

While there are a lot of characters I wouldn’t say most of them are particularly likable. The film goes out of its way to make quite a few of them grotesque as well. The best character would be Duncan though. While he may not have lasted a super long time or anything, he did come through when it counted to aid Paul. Then you have Paul’s sister who appeared suddenly near the end of the film and did a good job. Her powers definitely seem like they will have a lot of potential. The rest of the characters are mainly here to get wrecked or get in the way. They talk a good game but never realize that they are going to be the next ones to be bumped off until it’s too late.

Overall, Dune is a film that started out with some promise but it all quickly fell out the window and this became one of the worst films I’ve seen. It does succeed in getting the feel of a grand epic but it just couldn’t tell a good story and I feel like that happens with quite a few of these kind of films. I certainly was not a fan of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit series either. Same with Pirates of the Caribbean and what those all have in common is that they are very long films with lots of plots and characters running around. You definitely have to handle these kinds of films carefully or you end up biting more than you can chew. Additionally, all it takes is one bad plot to spoil the rest. In this case that was the Baron’s plot. Really a waste of time and just a horrible excuse for grit. If they had cut this out and every scene related to the Baron then the film would have been so much better. If you want a solid Sci-Fi film I’d recommend checking out something like Men in Black instead. Now that one is a film that is solid in all aspects.

Overall 0/10