7.5/10 My #1 Most Anticipated Film of 2020 and then 2021 due to its year long delay, to say I was excited for “Dune” would be quite an understatement. Co-writer/director Denis Villeneuve is one of the top ten best directors working today and has been on a hot streak since 2013. His last film, “Blade Runner 2049” was the third best film of 2017 and one of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen in my life. Villeneuve sticks with the science fiction genre but replaced the bright, neon soaked underworld of “Blade Runner” with colorless, dry desert sands. Despite the muted color palettes, “Dune” is still an absolutely gorgeous film. The visual effects are easily some of the best of the year, the cinematography is wonderful and the darker lighting matches the mood and tone. Villeneuve has described “Dune” as “Star Wars for adults” and he isn’t wrong. “Dune” is more similar to “Game of Thrones” than “Star Wars” in the sense that it is a slow burn with lots of buildup and with a heavy focus on politics. Villeneuve takes on the challenge of adapting a book that many have called “unadaptable” and while not every question is answered and mysteries remain, he does a great job of world building and introducing each character along with their respective motivations. The casting is spot on (although Rebecca Ferguson as Timothée Chalamet’s mother is noteworthy because she is only 13 years older than him in real life). Stellan Skarsgård as the Baron was perfect and his portrayal was more serious and menacing than any previous comical, over the top versions of the character that we’ve seen in the past. Everyone brings their A game to the acting and even the lone miscast actor (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) still gave a decent performance, despite not being right for the part. On a side note, I do find the character name Duncan Idaho pretty ridiculous. I guess Krispy Kreme Iowa was already taken. With every Marvel movie including cringe worthy attempts at humor and “Star Wars” dabbling in failed humorous attempts as well, it is so refreshing to see a serious film for adults that isn’t worried about political correctness, forced humor or appealing to every demographic. Hanz Zimmer’s score is good but not great. His co-scoring of “Blade Runner 2049” was better than his work here but there are still aspects of his score that work well (the opening music and his tracks with the Harkonnen scenes are fire). I really only had one main problem with the film and a couple of nitpicks that didn’t ruin the film going experience for me. One nitpick is that this takes place roughly 8,000 years into the future and characters have shields over their bodies during fighting for protection. Yet with all the futuristic technologies, these shields can’t even stop a small dart from penetrating them. Like a Storm Trooper’s suit that does nothing to stop blasters, they just felt pointless to have as a form of defense. Another scene has Paul Atreides (Chalamet) outside in the middle of the day in peak heat, talking to a man watering palm trees. Despite the fact that this is roughly the hottest part of the day to where the man tells him he shouldn’t even be outside and the fact that he is wearing a heavy, all black outfit, we don’t see one drop of sweat on Paul’s head. Even if he just walked outside, with the insanely high temperatures and his outfit, he would be sweating. That is an extremely minor nitpick but one that I noticed after viewing this film three times. Finally, a couple of scenes had sound mixing issues where you either couldn’t hear or understand lines characters were saying over the music and sound effects. As for the biggest flaw, the film is over two and a half hours and it does drag a little bit in certain sections. Some tighter editing and perhaps cutting off 15 minutes of screen time could have benefitted the pacing. Hell, we probably get 15 minutes of dream sequences alone so some of that could have been trimmed a bit. Since we know that Paul can see into the future, many events in the film also seem predetermined, like we already know what will happen since Paul saw it, which takes away some of the suspense when events do happen because we already knew they would. It is a little hard to critique a film when it is only half of a story as we have to wait two years to see how “Dune: Part Two” ends. While not as strong as past Villeneuve films, “Dune” is still the best science fiction film of 2021 thus far, one of the most beautiful films of the year, has Oscar worthy production and costume design and is well cast and worth seeing on the big screen. Some pacing and plot issues keep this from reaching “Blade Runner 2049” levels of greatness but I am still extremely excited for the second half of this story and for the spice to continue to flow.

#MusicByTheSpiceGirls / #PrideComethBeforeThePaul / #EnterSandman / #DukeWarm / #TheHarkonnenSideOfTheMoon / #HomeWorldBoundTheIncredibleGurney

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