Timothée Chalamet stars in Dune, currently in theaters and on HBO Max.
The Fremen people have a distinctive way of walking while traversing the sandy wastes of Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s Dune: all over the place and without rhythm. This is done as to not attract the giant sandworms that are native to the hellish planet, and if stars Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson are to be believed, this walk is much harder than it initially seems. Something else that is much harder than it initially seems?
Making a good movie adaptation of the seminal sci-fi novel that is Dune. For the most part, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune succeeds, but much like a Fremen sand walk, it goes back and forth on a few things and is ultimately a bit uneven.
One aspect of the novel that leads to a difficult transition to film is its sheer complexity (and scope; Dune makes it clear from the beginning that it is only the first of a planned two-parter). It is therefore a bit hard to follow along in the movie when the actors mumble and don’t enunciate the silly sci-fi lines they’re delivering.
This, more than the plot itself lead me to confusion more than once. But the acting is also quite solid despite this, which is to be expected with a cast that includes the aforementioned two as well as names such as Oscar Isaac, Stellan Skarsgard, and Josh Brolin.
The soundtrack, written by Hans Zimmer, is all over the place both in style and execution. From bagpipes to tracks with a distinctly Middle Eastern flavor, Dune does not really have a unified sound. For the most part it is nice to listen to, however, even if it veers into bombastically obnoxious territory from time to time.
And did I even enjoy watching Dune? I somehow still don’t know. Sometimes I was bored with the slow-burn plot and the political themes, and sometimes I was enthralled by the world building and the presentation of it all. When asking this question of a movie this length I guess it really comes down to which moments where the most prevalent. If this is the case, then yes, I enjoyed Dune.
At this point it’s probably not surprising that I’m going back and forth between whether or not Dune should be enjoyed at the theater or watched at home via HBO Max. On the one hand, the visuals and scope are astounding and were clearly filmed with a theater screen in mind.
On the other hand, it was pretty nice to be able to pause the almost three hour-long film any time I wanted to go to the bathroom or ask my family what exactly was going on. Plus, you know, subtitles. Those are pretty nice too, especially when the exposition gets mumbly.
Despite some unevenness, Dune is ultimately worth the watch if you have the time and the patience. “Dune Dudes” in particular (I assume this is what fans call themselves… if not, what a waste) can rest assured that Frank Herbert’s magnum opus has gotten the adaptation it deserves at last.
Dune is now available in theaters and on HBO Max.