I read some of the Dune books back in high school. I enjoyed the setting of the world, the vast desert of Arrakis, the ruthless political scheming, the cool tech – but at the same time I really disliked the idea of genetic memory and all the plot devices that arise from it, and I felt that the use of gholas is a very cheap writing trick. I was still looking forward to the new Dune movie directed by Villeneuve, mostly because I was impressed by the trailer and also because I loved his Arrival.
Two things that I really loved about Arrival were the visuals and the music. Dune delivers. The visuals are just stunning. Be it the dunes of Arrakis, a Guild spacefolder above Caladan or the Harkonnen homeworld of Giedi Prime, it all feels just right (which is pretty weird if you consider that these are all fictional planets). The use of close-up shots on actors and things directs focus well, though it can be confusing occasionally. The music has the same use of loud low horns that indicate overwhelming moments in Arrival, working to the same effect, similarly effectively. I really liked the sound effects, and even more the voice effects, like the way Sardaukar or Bene Gesserit sound.
While it’s a long movie (by my standards) at 2.5 hours runtime, it didn’t feel boring or slow to me. The pacing is fine, though I felt there could’ve been some more build-up to the arrival of the Reverend Mother considering her impact. I really appreciated the occasional comic relief brought about by Duncan Idaho. It’s much needed.
It’s also really nice how the various special abilities and “kinds” of people are made obvious without a narrator reading a 20-minute description. The Bene Gesserit voice is mentioned almost the very first scene, and Thufir Hawat displays his mentat abilities not even ten minutes into the movie. Some show in something “weird” with the eyes or other bodily features of characters, while others are more obvious “abilities.”
If something I was a little surprised by how “little” of the whole story was covered by this “Part One.” I didn’t realize this was going to be a series. But if they can keep this quality up for the rest of it, I’m definitely looking forward to the next installments.