Dune is a breathtakingly beautiful movie that you can enjoy even if you didn’t read the book. And even though I didn’t watch the movie in the theaters, the beauty of the scenes wasn’t lost even watching on TV on HBO Max. I would suggest this movie to any post-apocalyptic fan. Even though it is simply the first in a two-part series (and they better green light part two fast!), it’s worth the watch now rather than waiting until before the second movie airs.
This is a review of Dune, so there will be spoilers below.
The Beautiful Movie Is Accessible to Non-Book Readers
It’s been decades since I last read Dune. Although I was obsessed with the book series at the time, I now only remember a few specific plot points and many intricacies are lost on me. However, my husband — who watched with me — had not read the books and he was able to easily follow along. I would say that if you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you. There are some scenes — such as the importance of Paul’s final fight and the importance of his visions — that might be just a little less impactful to non-book readers who are watching. But these are minor nuances that don’t detract from enjoying the film at all.
And can I just take a moment to say that I *loved* the dragonfly ships? The beauty of this movie was found in the attention paid to every details, from the unique ships to the way that spice was harvested.
The Movie Is Stunning on HBO Max
If you can’t watch the movie in the theater, don’t let that stop you either. Watching on HBO Max is still a highly enjoyable experience. In fact, since the movie is so long, I’d even suggest it might be more enjoyable to watch at home. You can pause the movie whenever you need to take a break or get a snack. I commented to my husband that this movie captured the cinema feeling so well that I strongly felt the need to snack most of the time while I was watching. Not so great for my diet, haha, but really great for the viewing experience.
I just have two suggestions if you’re watching at home. First, figure out how to turn on closed captioning. There will be a few times during the movie when you might want the captions, since it’s tough to understand what they’re saying or hear the words over the background.
Also, turn the lights in your house off while you’re watching. Some scenes are very dark but they really pop when you have all the lights around you off.
Post-Apocalyptic Fans Will Love This Movie
I truly think that post-apocalyptic fans will enjoy this movie. Technically, there are post-apocalyptic elements in this universe, even if this isn’t truly a post-apocalyptic movie. But Arrakis itself just feels apocalyptic. Survival is HARD. It gets so hot during the day that you must stay indoors or wear a special suit that recycles all your body’s water, even your sweat. Strangers might kill you simply for your water. A sign of respect is spitting in front of a person because you’re using up some precious life-giving water. Survival isn’t easy on Arrakis and it contrasts starkly to the Atreides’ home world. And all of this is in play before you realize there are monster worms on this planet that require you to walk a certain way across the desert or face certain death.
The Cast Was Perfect
Going into more details about the plot itself, I thought Timothee Chalamet was perfect as Paul. Although there are many details from the books that I don’t remember, it just feels like Chalamet matched how I had pictured Paul in my mind.
Jason Momoa is the perfect Duncan Idaho, one of the few characters from the novel who really stands out in my memory all these years later.
Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen captured the mystery and creepiness of this character quite well. (And yes, Alexander Skarsgard of The Stand and True Blood is his son! As is Bill Skarskgard of Castle Rock.)
Zendaya’s Chani had a more a limited role in movie one, appearing mostly in Paul’s visions, but I can imagine she will have a more commanding presence in the next movie.
Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica was perfect in her role, beautifully showcasing a mother’s pain when Paul underwent his test. (And I really appreciated how well they portrayed Paul’s test in this movie, as opposed to how it was done in the 1980s version.) Jessica has an active role in this movie. She’s a strong woman, but not without her flaws. And when Paul steps in to fight as her challenger, she doesn’t resist at all. She loves her child and fears for his safety, but she also steps aside and lets him take charge when it’s time. That by itself takes amazing strength on her part.
And Paul also steps up to the challenge when it’s required. He doesn’t shirk back and is ready to face danger. Even while mourning his father, he continues to move forward toward his calling.
I really don’t have any complaints about this movie. It was a solid 8 or 9 out of 10 for me. Beautiful, compelling, with a strong cast of characters. I only wish that they made the second movie back-to-back. Waiting several years is going to be tough.