Mini Review

Dune: Part One (2021)

Last Watch Date - May 9, 2023
Total Times Watched - Once


Imagine a world where a legendary sci-fi franchise has a big-name director, an all-star cast, and a two-movie idea that breaks up the first novel of said franchise into two distinct parts! STOP IMAGINING. It's all real, my friend, and if you have access to HBO Max, you too can watch this first part!

I've already mentioned the cast is an all-star cast, so obviously the acting is great. Ehh, sometimes. In places. You have Timothy Charlemagne from the Holy Roman Empire as Paul "kind of a little bitch" Atreides. Then you have Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica who is meant to be Paul's mom but in real life is a mere 12 years older than him (and does NOT look old enough to have him as a son). Plus you get Aquaman who at one point flies a dragonfly copter and shoots Amber Heard's bed nuggets at the Harkonnens and Sadaukars. Pretty cool?

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how flat Dune (the story) falls for me. I get the historical importance in terms of sci-fi, but I also find the story a bit dull. The world is a bit too on-the-nose of a 60s worldview. The spice is oil. The Fremen are Bedouins. Arrakis sounds a lot like Iraq. The whole thing is a bit of Lawrence of Arabia retold. I actually like the Arab influences, which makes it even more disappointing. Where you have some complex political situations in something like Game of Thrones, you have an incredibly straightforward savior story here. The bad guys are clearly bad guys. The good guys are clearly good guys. There's no nuance that you'd want to see in a complex story.

But that doesn't totally matter for Dune: Part One, does it? Because for some reason, this story is one of those "loosely based on" movies. Yeah, it hits the main points (of part one of a three-part book), but all of the details between those points are heavily colored by this particular set of writers. They've read the story and they know it's a bit dull, so they're here to make it more modern. BETTER, even!

Haha, just kidding. They do their own thing but somehow make it worse. In fact, they drag out the worst part of the story for over two hours. Give me a break. If you read reviews of this from most people, you'll hear how "amazing" it looks. How it's "breath-taking" and "awe-inspiring." I'm not saying it looks bad (it doesn't), but this movie is the definition of style over substance.

The pacing is abominable. You'll see lots of sweeping shots of dust or people pensively looking off-screen. They somehow made action sequences boring. How is that even possible? If they wanted to expand on the story and play up some of the action, they had a great chance with the Harkonnen / Sardaukar invasion. Instead, they focused on Aquaman going one-on-one-thousand against what are played up to be punishingly skilled and vile warriors. Because he's Aquaman! A paper-thin "super hero" rather than a fleshed out character who makes logical decisions.

It's difficult to find positives in this movie outside of the visuals. If they hadn't agreed to two films up front and this hadn't come out in late pandemic times, I'm not sure this would've worked out. It has great ratings on rotten tomatoes, but I think it's more of the timing rather than merit on its own. How many times have I heard of this movie in the time between release and now? Zero. It totally died off until the Part Two trailer came out recently. People are now hyped again. I can't wait for the inevitable disappointment.

I want to like Dune (the franchise). I just .. don't.


If you're a fan of the story, this is going to be different enough that you'll question why they did the things they did. If you're not, this is going to be a more boring version of the first part of the book (which is the worst part of the book, by far). SO.. yeah, skip it. Unless you're an idiot like me that tries to force yourself to like Dune.

3 Worms out of 10