Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021-3)

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ianthemovie
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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#151 Post by ianthemovie » Sun Sep 05, 2021 4:17 pm

Based on how this is performing I would say that Part II is a near-certainty. The Oscar prognosticators are predicting that Part I will be recognized in the craft categories and maybe even get into Picture/Director. It might not be to everyone's taste, but it sounds like it is at least solidly made and much better than those bland trailers and promotional materials would suggest.

Worth noting also that Glenn Kenny, who had previously been shit-posting about this film (and Villeneuve) on Twitter all through its production, admitted that he likes the movie quite a bit now that he's seen it (his review gives it 3.5 stars out of 4). He's hardly the type of critic to swoon over big spectacles like this. So that's something.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#152 Post by Persona » Sun Sep 05, 2021 5:56 pm

"Based on how it's performing"? Unless WB is just feeling super magnanimous, this thing will have to make bank in order to get an even more expensive Part 2 made. Their relationship with Villeneuve is already strained. I think Dune could be a mild domestic hit and probably do good numbers globally, but it's pretty difficult to gauge how it might be impacted by the conjunction of a resurgent pandemic along with the HBOMax release.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#153 Post by The Curious Sofa » Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:55 am

I saw this last night and I have to admit, it was far better than the trailers would have me believe. Visually it is spectacular, all the best stuff in terms of art direction and effects sequences, is not in the trailers. I've never read the novel, this type of sci-fi/fantasy world building with lots of made-up names and words isn't my thing when it comes to literature, I only ever saw the Lynch movie. Even if narratively it was a mess in the second half, that film looked gorgeous, it was very ornate mixing a cyberpunk aesthetic with Elizabethan and Asian design elements.

The new Dune looks more sleek, taking its influences from contemporary art and design, but it's beautiful in its own way. With the plot being given more space to breathe, it's more coherent than the Lynch film, though it only covers the first half of the novel, which still worked pretty well in the earlier film. I hope the second film will happen, because the Lynch movie rushed through the second half where it didn't make sense unless you had read the book. Just as in the first film, the characters feel flat, they are archetypes rather then fully rounded human beings, but the excellent cast helps with that somewhat.

The first half of the film is fairly slow, but in the second there are several spectacular action scenes and set pieces. The film does interesting things with scale, with the humans often dwarfed by enormous space ships and vehicles. Even when the plot was losing me, there was always something interesting to look at.

It was also wonderful to see a big, spectacular blockbuster on a large screen again.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#154 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Oct 10, 2021 1:45 am

This is the type of film that I would have enjoyed much more 20 years ago and pretty much did in the form of Lord of the Rings. The general impact feels similar - an epic war among fantasy civilizations/kingdoms/etc. that's paced like one intense conflict after another. It's also the kind of thing that feels exhausting as it plays out and winds up leaving me a little cold. (Lord of the Rings probably plays a bit better simply because the additional humor acts like a frequent breather.) But to be clear, it's a fine spectacle and not a bad film. I do hope they make the two written sequels because it would be a shame to leave things as they were at the end of this one. (Also, I did enjoy seeing three key actors in the Coen brothers' recent work featured prominently in the cast - they even share one scene together.)

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#155 Post by Never Cursed » Sun Oct 10, 2021 3:13 am

How similar would you say, tonally and directorially, the film is to the Blade Runner sequel?

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#156 Post by Black Hat » Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:14 am

Much, much louder. Hans Zimmer must be stopped. The films could not be more different.

Dune's script is non-existent which leaves the film, when not drowning you with dimly lit sand, needing to rely on the charisma of the lead. This, unless you're a diseased-brained TikToker obsessed with Chalamet, fails because he stumbles around like a half-wit just out the bathroom for the 6th time before midnight at a Fashion Week party. There are a couple of clunky lines that are so bad I'm pretty sure they were put in to be made into Gifs. There's weird dream sequences that I think are supposed to be sexual??? Just excruciating. The whole thing was like being tossed back and forth between an ad for BP & a condom commercial. Truly one of the dumbest movie-going experiences of my life. May God have mercy on us for the next few weeks (if not months) of people throwing around "world-building", "spectacle" and "visually stunning". It's the Havana Syndrome of movies.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#157 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:41 am

Although I seem to recall that Kyle MacLachlan's portrayal came in for similar 'blank' and 'non-charismatic' criticism in the first film. Maybe Paul Atredies is meant to not be particularly charismatic at first, as a cossetted stuck in perpetual adolescence child of royalty, at least until he gets stranded on Dune and starts growing into his leadership position?

Without having seen the film as yet, would it be possible to be told where this film ends its "first half" of the story? I'm presuming that it is after Paul and his mother get to Dune, face certain death and then get rescued by the inhabitants? That would seem to be the most obvious break point.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#158 Post by ford » Sun Oct 10, 2021 9:22 am

Black Hat wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:14 am
It's the Havana Syndrome of movies.
🤣

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#159 Post by The Pachyderminator » Sun Oct 10, 2021 1:02 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:41 am
Maybe Paul Atredies is meant to not be particularly charismatic at first, as a cossetted stuck in perpetual adolescence child of royalty, at least until he gets stranded on Dune and starts growing into his leadership position?
I wouldn't say stuck in perpetual adolescence, since he's only fifteen. In the book, he seems a little immature and naive at the beginning, but already highly trained mentally and physically. So the way Chalamet speaks and carries himself in the clips that I've seen does come off as inappropriately dull and flat.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#160 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Sun Oct 10, 2021 2:57 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:41 am
Without having seen the film as yet, would it be possible to be told where this film ends its "first half" of the story? I'm presuming that it is after Paul and his mother get to Dune, face certain death and then get rescued by the inhabitants? That would seem to be the most obvious break point.
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I haven't read the novel (and I'm going off a spoiler article for the movie, since I don't plan to see it), so I don't know for sure how they compare, but I think this is basically right—it ends with Paul's first face-to-face meeting with Chani and his victory against Jamis.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#161 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Oct 10, 2021 3:04 pm

Black Hat wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:14 am
May God have mercy on us for the next few weeks (if not months) of people throwing around "world-building", "spectacle" and "visually stunning". It's the Havana Syndrome of movies.
LMAO. Well, I didn't hate it, but I can't disagree with Black Hat. Besides being exhausting, I can't say it was particularly engaging which isn't my idea of a memorable experience - it was almost like watching someone playing a video game and just letting everything fly by. There just wasn't that much that held my interest, though hanging everything on a metaphor for Western oil exploitation in the Middle East is something if not particularly new or edifying.

And while I do like Lord of the Rings in remembrance, I'm forgetting that they led to those much-derided Hobbit prequels which I never saw.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#162 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Oct 10, 2021 3:10 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 2:57 pm
colinr0380 wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:41 am
Without having seen the film as yet, would it be possible to be told where this film ends its "first half" of the story? I'm presuming that it is after Paul and his mother get to Dune, face certain death and then get rescued by the inhabitants? That would seem to be the most obvious break point.
SpoilerShow
I haven't read the novel (and I'm going off a spoiler article for the movie, since I don't plan to see it), so I don't know for sure how they compare, but I think this is basically right—it ends with Paul's first face-to-face meeting with Chani and his victory against Jamis.
SpoilerShow
Yep, and for me it was a drag. It's like finally we get to move on to something besides another chase or another fight, but noooo, now this guy has to have a fight to the death where he's obviously going to lose! Fucking hell...

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#163 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Oct 11, 2021 3:40 am

The Pachyderminator wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 1:02 pm
colinr0380 wrote:
Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:41 am
Maybe Paul Atredies is meant to not be particularly charismatic at first, as a cossetted stuck in perpetual adolescence child of royalty, at least until he gets stranded on Dune and starts growing into his leadership position?
I wouldn't say stuck in perpetual adolescence, since he's only fifteen. In the book, he seems a little immature and naive at the beginning, but already highly trained mentally and physically. So the way Chalamet speaks and carries himself in the clips that I've seen does come off as inappropriately dull and flat.
That's interesting, and I was probably only saying "perpetual adolescence" since MacLachlan looked very much to be in his mid-20s in the Lynch adaptation! I wonder how much influence Dune had over something like Ender's Game, with its actual adolescent having to go from enthusiastic training in war games in the abstract to eventually co-ordinating an actual counterinsurgency for real, or whether that is just a general trope in sci-fi. Even if it was the latter presumably Dune played a large part in creating the trope.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#164 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:16 am

The young heir or apprentice going through a period of training before demonstrating his growth into adulthood by taking up the mantle and fighting battles is a centuries old trope. I don't think we can credit Dune with it.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#165 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Oct 11, 2021 12:54 pm

What familiar sci-fi devices actually began with the Dune books? Obviously the "Voice" feels like it was lifted for "The Force" (though maybe that goes back even further than Dune)?

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#166 Post by erok910 » Fri Oct 15, 2021 6:24 pm

I really didn't dig this movie. I don't know what I wanted, I feel Villenueve stuff can be a bit empty- but when I sit through a 3 hour movie, I do prefer enjoying it to not enjoying it. I just wanted to type into my phone: "What the fuck is this about?" I dig the story of that book and all, but something left me feeling rather cold. Even to the point of taking it too seriously. (want that to be known- the only reason I'm even typing this is because I, apparently, took the whole idea of this film too seriously.

200 million on the stilted shots of CGI and A-list actor infused Google Earth images. I know they spent the money (I felt the filmmakers wanted me to know this) on the travel and the green screen, etc. I'm a bit surprised this, like any of Denis Villeneuve works, was received insanely well. Kind of like Blade Runner and Arrival and Prisoners- I enjoy the tone, for sure. It's shot competently and edited the same way. But it's infuriating to see movies that people will give half a billion dollars will be made just for a sequel- while it's not even well made. Saying it was bloated doesn't really even begin to hit the surface of what I'm talking about. I thought the film was hilariously flawed in how it was made, not just conceived. I can go into specifics but I don't know what to say in particular. Thinking about these filmakers referencing Tarkovsky whilst reminding me of Cowboys & Aliens, it just depressed me deeply. I don't really go on social media or forums beyond this one, but I felt I should say this after reading the response to it: I was truly astonished by how much I did not like this movie.

I'll add more later to specifics, like the pacing issues in the second half, the bloated amount of shots for the first half. The lack of dialogue in an attempt to indicate importance of aesthetic while skirting nuance. I'll watch a second part, which I'd bet money on happening as I really do think this feeling I'm describing is what the film was hoping for.. But it reminds me of stuff like Southland Tales and Under the Silver Lake. I know they wanted me to like it. Both of which I was excited for and saw in theaters. I was younger seeing Southland Tales in theaters, but I remember on the subway home that I knew then I wished I'd liked it. I wasn't nearly as interested in this as I was in those. I like how it's fun in all of the tone stuff. But I really didn't like how this felt like everyone involved in the film thought they could phone this in. Having said that, I've watched all of these movies twice- so whatever. I know something a masterpiece was not in the cards for me- but.. for the first half of a 200 million dollar movie, this left much to be desired. There is nothing resembling the intensity of a war movie that feels alien yet similar, like Ran, nor the brooding intensity or philosophy of something from Tarkovsky, as he references. Excited for everyone to see it to see what they think. I'll watch it again on a stream I suppose, hope it's better next time or with a second part.

I also have to say: I understand the shots, framing, sound, design, tone, etc. are awesome. Full of awe! But the hubris in saying it "needs" to be seen in cinema is as ridiculous as the last 10 or so movies released day-and-date on HBO. Unreal, the amount of marketing on this movie. Unique for sure. Big problem in half of it being left out, seriously. Star Wars ended in it's first film. Lord of the Rings established a straight narrative with the ring and the volcano. I know it will be greenlit (p. II) but I don't understand how, other than money, this is an incentive to it in any regard.

Edit: Also sorry for poor English.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#167 Post by reaky » Sun Oct 17, 2021 6:37 am

Don’t apologise! This was spot on, and full of sharp observations. “Referencing Tarkovsky whilst reminding me of Cowboys and Aliens” is a pip.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#168 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Oct 20, 2021 1:22 am

This was even worse than I expected from a self-serious filmmaker trying to cram half a mine of lore and narrative development into a two-and-a-half hour blockbuster, not only sacrificing character development in the process, but diluting any opportunity from audience investment in the action or story areas either. The lose-lose strategy of half-measures is executed by implementing robotically stiff dialogue out of a desperation to move the scenes along from point A to B continually in order to make the edit. I've liked quite a few of Villeneuve's projects, and his willingness to flaunt his style self-reflexively with cold-blooded austerity was pitch-perfect for Blade Runner 2049's narrative, tone, and themes. However, despite his obvious talents, the director's eyes were too big for his stomach here and the exhausting ideas in this novel are too vast to afford opulence to breathe.

The whole film is so dour, but there's no space to set up the high stakes for the progressions to earn their drama (the score alone is exasperating and out of place with the lack of intimacy forged between us and the action). My favorite scene in the book- the hunter seeker assassination attempt- is performed without a lick of suspense, a by-the-numbers, blink-and-you-miss-it moment that is mechanically debriefed after it's over by some key principals before they skip ahead a few pages into the next setpiece. And so on and so forth. For all its flaws, Lynch's Dune at least gave some color and spark to the material, playing these scenes with bare-minimum attention, care, and meditation on the present moment on screen. Villeneuve appears to be always anxiously thinking of the next scene during the one we're watching, and that's just an obnoxious way to construct a movie, though I suspect a lot of the blame occurred in the editing room. I admittedly don't like the source, but an interesting miniseries could be made from it by an auteur like Villeneuve, with the reigns loosened for creative liberties to be taken, and most importantly.. to evade a predicament where characters are trapped in wooden form, uttering bland facts instead of feelings to drive forward momentum towards diminishing returns in a passionless chronicle.

Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, and Jason Momoa all show shades of inspiration and elasticity in their performances, often with nonverbal cues, but they're never capitalized on and the film repeatedly pivots from these opportunities back into quicksand of time constraints from attempting a faithful adaptation of a bloated mythological canon- though when the film does slow down, it's always for empty montages of 'visions' that are alienating because we have never been given a chance to involve ourselves with Paul on a human level. This is beyond frustrating, to be forced to enter into a one-sided relationship with art, instinctually seeking to engage with a film that will not engage back on the lowest bar an audience asks for- and Timothée Chalamet's own self-serious leanings are incredibly unattractive, not to mention tactically senseless for an actor who relies upon performative nuance for likability. Stellan Skarsgård's entire look is hilariously designed though; an absurd, filterless externalization of both farce and menace, which shouldn't work at all but somehow does- at least better than anything else. Lynch might even get a kick out of it.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#169 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Oct 22, 2021 12:40 pm

Maybe because I haven't read the book and only remember snatches of Lynch's film after one viewing twenty-plus years ago, I had no real expectations one way or the other for this adaptation, other than being a fan of Villeneuve's aesthetic and storytelling style in general. So I'll be the square who really enjoyed Dune, got exactly what I wanted out of it, and couldn't care less if it was dour and gloomy and drab (all of which seemed perfectly appropriate for the material). Its most substantial, largely unavoidable failing is that it's the first portion of a longer story, but even without taking that into consideration, I was engaged and often excited by it the entire runtime, and excited for the possibility of further exploring this world and these characters.

Speaking of the drabness, I thought the production design did an excellent job of avoiding the overly clean and smooth look a lot of space movies fall back on, and made everything from the ships to the weaponry feel functional, used, and tangible. Seeing this in IMAX really underscored that detailed work on the sets and costumes, as well as the scope of the action and the worlds involved. The score, assuming you can tolerate Zimmer's bombast, was fine, and pretty much every member of the cast seemed well-suited to their role — particularly the always excellent Rebecca Ferguson, whose remarkably fair skin's exposure to the brutal sun added another layer of suspense — with the possible exception of Dave Bautista, who isn't given much to do beside being large and bad, but perhaps that character justifies itself as the story continues.

Fundamentally, I think the challenge of adapting something dense and potentially messy as this story appears to be is actually well-suited to one of Villeneuve's strengths: he's been very good throughout his career at carefully doling out information to the audience and removing pieces from a Jenga tower of exposition to leave it as minimally structured as possible while still getting across what one needs to follow the plot and the mechanisms of the world being presented (Arrival being the obvious example, but several other features of his also do this well).

I wouldn't say Dune: Part One was as good as Blade Runner 2049 (which is something of an unfair comparison for obvious reasons), but I quite enjoyed that it provided
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another undermining take on the messianic trope so common in fantasy and sci-fi. Maybe the book and/or any eventual sequels will lapse into something closer to the uncritical way this device is usually utilized, but I loved the idea that the Bene Gesserit — very much enjoyed Charlotte Rampling in a small role here — are exploiting that trope and have spent centuries seeding the mythology their chosen figurehead can eventually exploit.
Hopeful that Villeneuve is given the chance to finish this, and given that it looks like it is going to be at least moderately successful globally, I think it'd be stupid not to, at this point; how much long-term demand for streaming sales, physical media, etc. will there be if this is left unfinished?

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#170 Post by domino harvey » Fri Oct 22, 2021 1:05 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 12:40 pm
Hopeful that Villeneuve is given the chance to finish this, and given that it looks like it is going to be at least moderately successful globally, I think it'd be stupid not to, at this point; how much long-term demand for streaming sales, physical media, etc. will there be if this is left unfinished?
Ask LionsGate, who made three of the four planned Divergent films but cancelled the finale, abandoning the series completely right before finishing it and essentially throwing away any chance of ever making more money from the franchise

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#171 Post by j99 » Fri Oct 22, 2021 2:58 pm

Finch wrote:
Sat Sep 04, 2021 1:13 pm
I'd be astonished if Villeneuve ever gets to do a second part (never mind a third). Blade Runner 2049 opened under comparatively optimal circumstances and didn't set the box office alight, either.
The type of film it is, I would be surprised as well. It’s certainly not a commercial blockbuster, that’s for sure, and while watching it (I’ve never read the source novel), I wondered whether the rest of the cinema audience had a clue what was going on, because I have to admit I didn’t. I think this is going to be a problem for a follow up to get the go ahead, because the subject matter is so obscure, and I just can’t see it bringing in the numbers required. It has its moments; there are some spectacular set pieces and effects, but what let it down for me was the colour schemes; it was incredibly dull and drab throughout. I just felt the colour could have been more imaginative, and this is where David Lynch definitely gets the better of Villeneuve; the look of his Dune is far superior to what is on offer here. The performances were also a bit wooden, the casting of Jason Momoa for example seems designed purely to appease the Marvel crowd, and Timothy Chalamet to get a large teen audience. The problem arises when there is such a powerhouse performance from Rebecca Ferguson, that Chalamet in particular simply cannot compete. I think Dune fans will still be left pondering whether their book will ever get a definitive adaptation, because this feels to me it isn’t the one. Maybe Alejandro Jodorowsky was the way to go after all.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#172 Post by feihong » Fri Oct 22, 2021 7:10 pm

I found this film bland, slow, and absent as I was watching it. To my mind, adapting Dune offers this particular problem, in that Herbert's writing is so heavy on exposition and ideas, so light on the material which would engage us in a movie (character development that we can track through the story, human motivations for the on-the-page action, clear necessity for certain parts of the plot to transpire when and where they do) that it needs a really visionary hand to make it all work. I think Jodorowsky would have been ideal for this material, actually, because a film like The Holy Mountain does the exact same thing Dune does. It takes us on a tour of a world without ever engaging us in any common narrative beats, and without leaning too heavily on exposition at the same time (in the sense that, if you don't know what you're seeing, Jodorowsky is unconcerned with the need to explain it to you) and it manages to be really engrossing––for me, at least. Lynch does admirably well, I think, with the first hour of his film, especially in comparison to this new one, and then the tension and forward momentum let up in the second hour of the Lynch film.

Watching this new version, it struck me how bored I was, even 30 minutes in. And additionally how purposeless it all seemed. By keeping the emperor and the spice trade off screen almost the entire film––and by failing to deliver any understanding of the spice as the thing everyone's fighting for––this new movie's conflict is so incredibly abstract. And I can't help noticing this; Villeneuve gets only about as far as the first hour of Lynch's film, in terms of story. How much more engaging was Lynch's first hour than Villeneuve's same tract of story, told in more than twice that time? Lynch's additions to the story––especially the guild operator folding space, and Baron Harkonnen's leering villainy––add so much to that section of the story, in terms of stakes. The new film has instead a more fleshed–out, psychologically–plausible set of relationships between Paul and his parents, and all of his parents' advisors––most of whom will die 1 or 2 scenes after whatever scene they have with Paul. Instead Lynch had that pre–Thin-Red-Line shared voiceover, which, it turns out, served the same purpose and cut the runtime of the material in half. As far as the casting choices, I thought Chalemet and Ferguson were a shadow of MacLachan and Annis. This new movie's best roles I thought were Chani and Stilgar––both brief walk-ons, but people who seemed to deliver the essence of their characters quickly and efficiently. The difference between Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho seemed to boil down to the idea that one smiled and the other didn't. These characters aren't very clear in the Lynch movie, either, but they seem at least more complex than that.

For all the time Villeneuve spends adding to character appearances (a lot more time for Duncan Idaho, for instance), I think the choices made in performance and direction of performance come across the worst in the movie. There is this scene not in the Lynch film, where Duke Leto tells his son it's okay if Paul doesn't want to be the Baron. Somebody went out of their way to write this sweet, sappy line, about how if Paul doesn't want that life, he'll still be all the Duke ever expected of him; he'll be the Duke's son. That moment played so wrong to me. Of course, the idea is to show the Duke's love for Paul, but I hardly think it reasonable that the Duke tell Paul that he essentially doesn't have to be the next Duke. That succession is the most important thing in either of their lives; it's the transfer of power that makes their family what it is, and Duke Leto is just as much a prisoner of it as Paul feels that he will be. It doesn't seem authentic that Leto would tell his son he won't have to succeed to lead their house. At the very least, we should see in the Duke's eyes that he is lying to his son at this moment. But that's not the way it's played. I find more sympathy and interest in Oscar Isaac than in most of the actors in this film (unlike all the other actors, I actually like Isaac), but I don't think he brings more than a cool beard to this role; he never seems much like royalty in the part. From Leto we could have seen the compounding concerns of governing and the need to be compassionate, which will echo as conflicts within Paul as he becomes the Fremen's messiah. But because the performances are all paper-thin, and the direction of them is to see no greater meaning in any of their particular moments (and because the script is totally flat in this regard), it all seems like missed opportunities.

Dr. Yueh's whole character feels like another missed opportunity. I like Chang Chen in a lot of movies, but he seems surprisingly cool, and I think Dean Stockwell leant a lot more fragility to Dr. Yueh, which made his character make a lot more sense. In the new movie, at essentially twice the length, Dr. Yueh got even less screen-time than in 1984 (ditto Baron Harkkonen's sons). Other material was pretty badly handled, as well. Duke Leto's poison tooth looks in the new movie like it annihilates everyone––and then the guards seem to make it potentially more effective by sealing the Harkkonen rulers and brain trust inside the room. Then in the next scene we see him in, the Baron's taking a relaxing mudbath. What happened? At least in the Lynch version we can see the poison getting De Vries and missing the Baron. And the score...the score sucked so incredibly hard. Every theme was dull and predictable, every mix flat and oppressive. I appreciated Hans Zimmer back in the 90s, when he had a little more range. The score to The Power of One is very good, as was his all-synth score for Millenium. After that came this run of blockbuster flatulence, and I think they really needed somebody a little more hungry to make an impression on this score. A more creative musical background could help provide character for the different environments and characters in the story; but Zimmer seems uninterested in such things, beyond his corny whistling theme for the Fremen. Holy cow, nothing works in this movie. I was surprised to see how little besides the special effects turned out at all effective.

I also would be surprised if they go forward with this obviously enormous investment in a follow-up. I don't think people are going to fall in love with this movie of Dune––the money is all there on screen, but the story remains maddeningly oblique––and nothing in Villeneuve's bag of tricks seems to make it any clearer. The characters are not made compelling, and the actors playing them fail to make them charismatic or interesting. I think there's an inherent danger to taking your adaptation of Dune too seriously––unless you––the artist––are suitably insane. It becomes clearer now that Lynch did what he could with the material, and I think Jodorowsky could have transformed it. In both cases, they leaned into the weirdness of the source material, and Villeneuve seems shy of doing that. He wants it all to seem cool and sensible––even though they fly ships that look like dragonflies. And I was pretty disappointed that Villeneuve couldn't put together a more meaningful conclusion to this first part––the film just seems to end arbitrarily. If Paul's interest in Arakis was made more prominent, as it was in the Lynch movie, then Paul arriving at the authentic center of Arakis' culture, amongst the elusive Fremen, might have landed with a little more weight. If Paul's prophecy and visions had been a little more...something? A little more freighted with meaning, instead of playing like a perfume commercial, then perhaps the failure of prophecy implied by his defeat of the Fremen in battle at the end might have meant that Paul is suddenly free to make his own choices, and to accept the risk inherent in them. But none of that came through too strongly, and the ending felt to me very muted and flat. Or maybe I had just been bored insensate by the end, and so I was no longer able to appreciate any of the unfolding story––because the rest of the film had driven me into that somnambulaic state. Whichever way you cut it, I think this was a dog of a film.
Last edited by feihong on Sat Oct 23, 2021 3:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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feihong
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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#173 Post by feihong » Sat Oct 23, 2021 3:31 am

I thought later today how some of the glaring issues in this movie might have been resolved, and I arrived at a couple of ideas. One problem to my eyes is that the narrative relies so heavily upon Paul's visions––an aspect of the film which is not uniquely visualized or very striking, and which Chalemet portrays very poorly. He doesn't want to talk about them, and they are dismissed constantly, and he keeps going along with this. Yet the filmmakers rely upon the visions to introduce characters and freight them with significance (Zendaya, for instance, is present in the film almost entirely in these visions). There is a point in the film where they even allow in Paul's nightmare of a Jihad––something the Lynch film decided to leave out of the script, with, I think, pretty good reason for doing so. This movie drops it into one scene, and Chalemet's worst acting in the film is what gets us through that moment. It all ends up feeling forced, and everyone's feelings that the visions may or may not lead to anything makes it so that the visions are just too ambiguous to be the driver of the plot the filmmakers expect them to be.

So, my solution: begin the film with Paul leading the Fremen on their Jihad. He then has a scene for quiet reflection, in which he takes us back in time to his childhood, when he first came to Arakis, when his father was killed by the Baron Harkkonen, etc., and the film proper begins. This flips the stakes of the story around, so that the element of Paul growing and learning––which takes up a lot of screen time, but which feels unfocused and arbitrary––becomes a story with a clear destination; the events we see will be the ones that make him into the messiah who leads the Fremen. Then the whole betrayal storyline becomes not just a political saga, but a story of the scar upon the hero's psyche––the even that forms his angry worldview for the years to come. And then his visions become the important advances to the plot they are supposed to, because if Paul is the Messiah at the beginning then we know that the visions he is having are for reals––that they do guide him in the future. And then the twist at the end––that the visions are not a reliable guide for Paul, or that they present to him choices rather than destinies––comes as a genuine twist, something which changes the calculus for Paul and for us going into the next movie. And the vision of Jihad, which comes out of nowhere in the Villeneuve film and which leads to nothing within that film, suddenly takes on context––this is then the clearest vision of his future, which comes to him at his time of most desperate need.

The idea that Paul would for certain grow up to be the prophesied leader and the destroyer in his dreams, rather than eliminating the stakes of the story, would then establish the stakes of the story; it would make Paul's dreams and visions a vital part of the story, rather than an incidental add-on which the filmmakers occasionally use to underline the appearance of a character for us––a character who will be important in, say, a later movie, for example. Thinking about it this way, I'm amazed they didn't pursue this narrative strategy. thinking about it in comparison to what we got really puts into relief for me what I didn't see present in this adaptation of the story. The book has so much of a span in which to make the disparate elements of the story draw together; the film has maybe a 20th of that space. It has to move fast, it has to condense things in a smart way. And I realize now that what is most missing from this new adaptation is any of the stakes of any element of the story. None of it lands with any understanding of how important it might be to the overarching narrative. And so the results end up all over the place. The extended emphasis on Thufir Hawat being implied to be the traitor in House Atreides comes to literally nothing. Gurney Halleck's forceful, excessively Brolin-ized introduction leads to him charging into battle and then disappearing. Dave Bautista gets virtually nothing to do. And the larger story elements––Paul's mastery of The Voice, his testing at the hands of the Bene Gesserit, the killing of Duke Leto, Paul and his mother encountering the Fremen––land without the proper emphasis. It ends up being very ho-hum because we have no way to determine the relative importance of the different events within the story. Lynch managed to freight certain events with importance in spite of how little we understood of the worlds we were seeing, and his actors really help to invest material with a sense of its proper importance vis a vis this fictional world in the film. That doesn't happen in the new movie, because they never give us any way to anchor ourselves and gauge the terrain. We just sit there watching arbitrary events unfold, one after another, with the vague hint that these posh dreams Paul has are somehow going to be important. And I think if they'd added this element at the beginning it would have given the story a much more coherent conceptual frame.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#174 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Oct 23, 2021 11:15 pm

Coming into this new to the story itself, I found it acceptable and really stunning aesthetically speaking. Original? Not in the slightest bit, but it tells this particular story in a way I found appealing enough to draw me in. With so much religious iconography right alongside futuristic technology mostly used for war it seems, I do feel reverberations to our current struggles with widespread nationalism and hatred striving for normalcy in the American character.

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Re: Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021)

#175 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Oct 24, 2021 12:13 pm

Other members who are better-versed in the history of science fiction literature may correct me, but I’m not sure if pointing out the story’s lack of originality is a fair point since the mid-60s source material ostensibly was quite original, enough so to inspire much of the other art that has come before this adaptation and likely diluted its effects for audiences going to experience the story for the first time. We shouldn’t view the ‘story’ in a vacuum as if it’s coming fresh in 2021!

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