Michael Marino’s review published on Letterboxd:
Several months before it was publicly announced that director Denis Villeneuve would be directing a new adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic novel Dune, during the press tour for his most recent film at the time, Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve said this, "A longstanding dream of mine is to adapt 'Dune,'.... and I don't think I will succeed."
Well, Monsieur Villeneuve, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you did succeed, and you also kind of nailed it.
Villeneuve has crafted a film here that many filmmakers dream to make in their lifetimes. It has an off-kilter quality about it, similar to what Georges Méliès accomplished with A Trip to the Moon.
And, yes, I realize that drawing parallels between the two of these films looks like I'm reaching out of my own arse right now, considering that the film was the first known Science Fiction film ever created. Nonetheless, you understand what I mean when I say that both this and that film attempted to make the impossible possible happen on screen right before our very eyes.
Nevertheless, despite my love for the film, it was not without shortcomings, which I'll mention in a moment, but first, let me discuss what I loved about it instead.
The first thing that drew me in was Villeneuve's direction, particularly his sense of visual flair in bringing to life the mythical planet of Arrakis. Obviously, given Denis' expertise and how good his world-building was for Blade Runner 2049, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Yet, wham bam, the man continues to astound me every time I see one of his works by doing a far better job than I could have imagined here with every new film he makes.
The world he creates here is frigid, gloomy, desolate, sandier than Sandy Cheeks, and harbors worms larger than those from Denis's second favorite novel, How to Eat Fried Worms.
I absolutely recommend seeing the film in IMAX, as director Denis Villeneuve intended, and I'm glad I saw it in a theater rather than at home, where my father would have surely asked me to turn down the volume 1 minute in during the film's opening studio logos.
Another aspect of the film that drew me in was the quality of the performances given throughout here. And, as they say, like the spice, the performances must flow too, which they do.
There are so many outstanding performances in this film, but my favorites are Jason Momoa and Rebecca Ferguson as Duncan Idaho and Lady Jessica, respectively.
But the one that stood out the most to me was the one played here by Stellan Skarsgård as the villainous character known as the Baron.
His performance here was fucking terrifying. And, based on how the character was presented in David Lynch's adaptation of the novel, this comes as pretty surprising to me.
Since if you are to compare the two portrayals next to one another, it's kind of like apples and oranges, I'd say, since the character in the Lynch version came off as so goddamn ridiculous to me in my eyes.
Hell, as much as I love Lynch, I'm not sure what he was thinking when he decided to have the Baron fly around like Spongebob in his flying pants from that one episode of the show in every single scene of the film in which he appears in. Oh, and don't even get me started on the scene at the beginning of the film where he eats his own pimples on his face since it makes me sick just thinking about it.
But that's not to say that some scenes with the Baron in this film didn't make me sick, as they did in Lynch's. Because the scene in the movie where we see the Baron emerge from the tub, which looked remarkably similar to the interior of my toilet after a night out with some Taco Bell, wound up being fairly close for me in the end.
Last but not least, I'd like to praise Hans Zimmer's score. The music here was insane. I mean, put that shit on during intercourse, and you and your hubby won't even have to wiggle together since the vibration of sounds from it will do it all for you.
To address the issues I had with the film, it all boiled down to that it is just half of a feature. Many people have already seemingly have gone into this; thus, there is no reason to dwell on it too much. But I would add that I believe this film will function much better in the end when we can see this and Part 2 back to back.
Also, I'll confess that the first hour of the film didn't entirely pull me as well as the second hour did for me. However, I will think that after my first rewatch, things will end up going much more smoothly for me in that regard, as it took some time for my brain to settle in while I was watching it, I will say.
That's all I have to say; it's now up to Warner Bros. to decide where this world goes next cinematic-wise.
Nevertheless, here's hoping that in Part 2, we will get to witness some nice Alaskan bull worm riding and a sequence in which we see the Fremen push the Planet of Arakis and push it somewhere else.