Dune

Dune ★★★★

Watched this on the biggest screen available to me, the IMAX at a local AMC, which let me tell you is not nothing given I don't have a car and had to Uber both ways. I'm glad I did, though - for all the bellyaching by internet types about how obsolete and unnecessary the theatrical experience is, this really is the kind of film that's best enjoyed with the sound booming so loud you can feel it in your bones, and with the screen looming so large you feel like you might fall in. For about two and a half hours I lived in Dune, and it is honestly impossible to imagine experiencing this film at home and getting the same result. Granted, my "home setup" right now consists of my laptop, so if you have a good sound system and a nice TV you might get close. But yeah, watched a few choice clips when I got back and it was really just not the same at all.

As for the movie itself: Obviously, a bit overwhelming. I am left most with the impression that I've seen the future. Denis Villeneuve has, if nothing else, crafted environments so huge and tactile that it feels like future history, like he went through a time machine and just pointed his camera at everything he saw. The human story at the center of this massively scaled world can feel a bit thin, an impression that isn't helped by the abrupt ending. In an ideal world, someone gave Denis all the money he needed to just film a five-hour Dune all at once. Alas, we live in the world where we'll have to wait at least, like, three years to see how this all shakes out.

In the meantime, I'm left with the impression that this version could have at least been a bit longer, to let us sit with the characters and get more attached. Paul is a frustrating conundrum of a protagonist, not quite the "chosen one" trope, but also not not the trope. Side characters mostly feel quite sidelined, even some very important ones (Oscar Isaac gets shockingly little to do). Only Rebecca Ferguson and, surprisingly, Jason Momoa really stand out from the rest of the cast. And since it doesn't really have an ending, I can't say that I'm left feeling fully satisfied.

All that said ... I did really love watching it on the biggest screen I could find, with a receptive audience and a bag of popcorn. And I'm willing to trust that Denis will handle the trickier second half of Dune with more finesse than David Lynch managed, even if I do at times wish that he was willing to replicate some of Lynch's weirdness. Solid all around, ultimately - but with a lot riding on that hypothetical sequel.