Dune (Denis Villeneuve)

Discussion in 'Random Thoughts' started by purr1n, Oct 22, 2021.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    What do we get when we remove the science fiction and political intrigue elements from Frank Herbert's Dune? And then add unnecessary Aquaman sequences (because Duncan Idaho is such a fan favorite*). We get Denis Villeneuve's Dune. Unfortunately this is not Dune.

    Those who wanted to see Frank Herbert's Dune may walk away disappointed. Those who would otherwise not give a shit about Herbert's painstakingly detailed world building and exposition of the balance of power between rival factions** - but would prefer to simply focus on the story of a young man's*** dealing with the betrayal of his family, survival, and eventual rise as the King of space Wahabis, may find the film compelling.

    Unfortunately for me, I've read the book. I've also watched Lynch's film many times over. I happen to prefer Lynch's film despite it's flaws. Lynch and DeLaurentis went all out with their sets and costumes. They imagined a world what I would have expected for Herbert's book's. This is supposed to be humanity in year 10,000 after they had dealt with AI and the Matrix***. One step forward and one step back - recycled for thousands of years - where mankind has managed to survive and not kill themselves. Lynch's film gave us that feeling. It was a world that viewers would identify as Baroque and broke. Where many things, by design, only kind of worked. Other than a very cool reinterpretation of the 'thopters, Denis' film lacked imagination. The spaceships looked like stuff recycled from Arrival or featureless Jawa sandcrawlers. The capital city of Arrakeen underneath the Shield Wall looked completely uninspiring, a rust colored Mos Eisley lacking any texture. The interpretation of the Emperor's shock troops, the Sardaukar, as sort of hybrid Viking-Muslim answering to daily prayer call from a space imam on a towering podium was too hackneyed, too lazy. The creatives behind the look and feel of the world sucked balls. This is what we get with CGI, cheap studios, and producers who are too young for the job. However, I mostly blame Denis because he's the guy in charge. He's clearly bit off more than he can chew and has obviously reached a limit to his talents.*****

    I can go on and on. Critical scenes in the book (Shadout Mapes) were inserted in the film in a choppy way, casting didn't work or take advantage of the actors' capabilities (Liet-Kynes, the Baron, Beast Rabban, etc.), silent scenes where the Sardaukar float down from the air were overly pretentious******. In the end, the film makes less sense than the Lynch version as a work of science fiction. As a story about Paul up to when he meets the Fremen, it's slightly better. And this is only because of the strength of Tim Chalamet.

    Denis wants you to see it on the big screen. Dune's not worthy of it. The CGI, the sets, and the cinematography are not good enough.

    *Both the actor from I would assume female movie goers and the character from fans of the book.
    *The Landsraad royal family planet owners, the Emperor, the Spacing Guide's drug addicted mutated space navigators, and the Bene Gesserit space nuns.
    ***Surprised Hollywood didn't go with a gender flip here with Paula.
    ****Buterlian Jihad - Denis' film is worse than the Lynch film on explaining stuff, like the Mentats
    *****I have serious doubts Denis Villeneuve read the book. Or if he read it, he didn't get it or simply wasn't a sci-fi fan.
    ******A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Persian Vampire Western) is a better art film for those who want to imbue mood and tone colors through mostly silence.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  2. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Friend

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    I demand you use the voice when stating your opinion. How dare you use the voice on me!
     
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  3. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    I loved the set pieces and how grand the scale of things looked but my god are the characters flat, the script is horrible, and I was just not invested. As you mentioned, they removed a critical portion of the books which is the political aspect. The Harkonnens felt like evil cartoon characters instead of vying to undo the Atreides through subterfuge and working with the empire.

    *Spoilers*

    The scene where Shadout Mapes unsheathes the Kris knife and doesn't draw blood. Or how Stilgar is introduced among several other complaints.

    I really enjoyed the 2000 TV series and thought this could of been better expressed through one, just updated.
     
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  4. Qildail

    Qildail Facebook Friend

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    Ouch. I for one actually enjoy going to theaters, so the last 18 months have been a bit rough on that front. I was hoping this would be the one to rev that engine back up (it should have been Bond, but yick; I could write my own diatribe on that one). Instead, looks like another (much delayed) swing and a miss.

    Maybe Dune really is one of those truly "unfilmable" stories? Or at least unfilmable in anything less than a series at the Game of Thrones investment level?
     
  5. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Yes, this was oversimplified to the point it could be called Baby’s First Dune. The political intrigue is reduced to “the Emperor wants you dead” and the intricate interplay between the characters was all but lost. Chalamet is indeed excellent though.

    I couldn’t believe how monochrome, minimalist, and interchangeable all the costume, set, and ship designs were. Everyone wore black or brown/off-white. Outside you could tell which planet was which because of the landscape but the buildings on Caladan looked like the buildings on Arrakis looked like the buildings on Geidi Prime. Just a total lack of imagination.

    Paul’s experience as the emerging Kwisatz Haderach is given short shrift too. Other than the scene in the tent, there’s barely any indication of the confusion he experiences or the nature of his abilities.

    The whole thing felt like Villeneuve was afraid of depicting the Dune universe as it’s described in the book because it would be too weird, and Lynch already went weird and it failed (between the two I prefer the Lynch though). The only cool, imaginative, sci-fi thing was the Harkonnen “pet”, who wasn’t in the book and I immediately wanted to know more about.

    Two fun nods to previous Dune attempts: The black healing bath the Baron uses is an obvious reference to the black goo shower the Baron takes in Lynch’s Dune, and the outline of the Harkonnen building on Geidi Prime looks very similar to this H.R. Giger design for the Jodorowsky Dune: [​IMG]

    This was, ultimately, the most boring possible version of Dune and the more I reflect on it the less I like it. Here’s hoping that Part II gets weird as shit.
     
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  6. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    The various motivations of the different characters/interests are not sufficiently fleshed out for the action to make much sense to someone who is not pretty immersed in the source material already. Specifically the the Butlerian Jihad (as mentioned by purr1n above) and the Orange Catholic Bible, and the bases therein for the lack of I.T. and the Bene Gesserit and their overarching goals. Should've done a series with all of the books as source material. Lost opportunity.

    Edit: It ultimately comes across to me as incomplete more than actually bad. Like a movie made from a Reader's Digest condensed version of the book. Gonna watch it again though, as my admiration for the book(s) kind of demands that.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  7. imackler

    imackler Key Lime Pie Infected Aberdeen Wings Spy

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    @Merrick I didn't read your review because I'm avoiding spoilers... But I read your first sentences :) And this is exactly what I feared. Maybe in 20 years...
     
  8. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    OT but yeah, that's a great movie.
     
  9. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Just rewatch the Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary, or better yet read The Incal, the comic series Jodorowsky made with Moebius that uses many of his ideas for Dune.
     
  10. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    POSSIBLE SPOILERS
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    If only that. The problem is that there was no Emperor in Denis' film! The Bene Gesserit wanted Paul alive. It was
    Stellan Skarsgård who wanted Paul dead, but on a technicality so that he could say that he didn't do it. The Lynch version played out this aspect really well: The Emperor didn't really give crap. It was the Spacing Guild that made it clear that if the Emperor went through with his plan, then Paul must die.

    Kyle MacLachlan was given much more to work with by Lynch. Chalamet's prescient vision sequences were mostly repetitive with Zendaya. Because Zendaya brings people to the movie theatre. Too much was shown in the trailers.

    I honestly don't think he got it. Some people are like that. They don't get science fiction and the political intrigue stuff that often comes with it. I like science fiction, but I hate fantasy. For example, I hate Lord of the Rings and also the fantasy aspect of Star Wars. Dude should have passed, whether he didn't get it or if he was too chickenshit.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  12. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    We've also been watching the Foundation series, which was an influence on Dune (Herbert has gone on record as saying one of the big ideas for Dune, the idea of this massive, precarious empire being undone by an ignored group of dissidents was a direct response to the way the Foundation books depicted Empire) and while I don't think it's a perfect series by any means, they go to great lengths to flesh out the political connections and implications, along with the emotional impact of the decisions that various characters make. Given that Dune is all about the ramifications of decisions big and small, it's so frustrating to see the movie shirk this entire aspect of the story.
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Key subtlety that seemed missed in Denis' film but captured more faithfully in Lynch's: when Lady Jessica bullshits her way answering Shadout's question on what the knife is. It's a Maker. Jessica figures it's a Maker of Death (wrong answer) and "Maker" is good enough for Shadout. Lady Jessica then further bullshits by changing her body stance to one confidence and insisting of course she knows what it is (even though she still really doesn't).

    Also Linda Hunt >> random native looking person in Denis' film who has a great shriek but just kind of goes through the motions with the rest of her lines. This isn't the actor's fault. Denis really doesn't know what the fuck he is directing. Little things like this are crucial to the story of Dune. Oh yes, there's a story.

     
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    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    I did appreciate Denis' pacing because it was much slower and quieter than what modern audiences are accustomed to. I love to be able to relaxed and soak it all in sometimes instead of extended sequences of explosions, laser beams, and space knife fights. In that respect, many scenes in Dune reminded me of those in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The ending was great when Arash walks out of the car, thinking "WTF am I doing with her - she had something to do with my (junkie) dad's death - fuck fuck fuck fuck" (all silent but elucidated with this pacing) before eventually deciding "fuck it" and getting back in the car, but not before playing back a mix tape of Persian pop tunes.

    It's stuff like this, being able to say what is unsaid on screen which Denis failed to capture with Paul and his visions. Instead, it was more like this: Oh it's Spiderman's girlfriend again.

    Now with respect the the pacing, that all got F'd up with fricking Aquaman, the actor's mannerisms, and the wild action sequences. Even my junior high-school aged son remarked: "Bruh. Why is Aquaman in the movie? He doesn't work. They milked it."

    There is something wrong with Hollywood today.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    After watching the Synder Cut of Justice League (boy Josh Whedon really screwed that up), I'd rather take Zach Synder over Denis Villeneuve for Part 2. I actually liked the Watchman film even though it was a very safe take on the comics.
     
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  16. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    So, this is a wait and watch at home on the OLED kind of deal?
     
  17. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I don't think Snyder would be any more able to reproduce the subtleties of the book better than Villenueve, and lord knows I don't need Dune full of endless slo-mo set to Leonard Cohen songs. I'd say Darren Aronofsky would be a good fit.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Yeah. I don't really see surround and Atmos adding much more, unless you really need to hear the Duke's retinue of 'thopters or Hans Zimmer's drum up, right, left, etc. Michael Bay for all his shitty movies has a better sound production team. I hated Zimmer's work for Superman, but this one I felt he did a great job on. He's clearly grown as a composer. Anyway, the sound mixing isn't Oscar material. In some spots, it's actually rather bad.

    Bottom line is that with all the CGI and uninspired scenery, there's no point. There's nothing in this film approaching what Lynch and DeLaurentis did with the OG Dune. Lynch's camera guy Freddie Francis has a better eye for framing too. I'd kill to be able to go back to the big screen for Lynch's version.
    EUEOrbkU4AAcgau.jpg
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    Unless you really want to see Zendaya as bad-ass thinking Paul is full of shit (with respect to being space Muhammad) on the big screen.
    dune-trailer-breakdown-chani-on-arrakis.jpg

    Or what looks to be recycled CGI renderings of the Iron Islands from GOT, except with a floating Jawa carrier painted metal instead of brown - on a big screen.
    [​IMG]

    Heck, I get more out of the photos I took when I hiked the rocky desert landscapes of the Santa Monica mountains. Bottom line is that when I watch Lynch's film, I see someone with a still photographer's eye, despite all the crappy and dated special effects. With Denis' film, I see a person with a video camera who focuses better on Zendaya's stillsuit than her eyes, or an video game artist who made cutscenes for the next Diablo game.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  19. Kernel Kurtz

    Kernel Kurtz Friend

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    Interesting to see people here who like David Lynch's version of Dune. I watched it when it came out and thought it was awful. In anticipation of the new one coming out, I attempted to watch it again just recently and I can't say it has aged well either. Then again I tried to watch Twin Peaks and just could not get into that either. Just goes to show film is much like music, everybody's taste is different and there is no right answer.

    Have not seen the new Dune yet, so can't comment on it. For people looking for an (IMO) good film by Denis Villeneuve check out Sicario (the first one, not the sequel).
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Lynch's film is unwatchable unless you've read the book.
    Twin Peaks was pretentious nonsense and guys only watched it because girls did, and even then, the fad didn't that long.

    Sicario and Arrival were great. Blade Runner 2049 was pointless because there was a film already called Blade Runner. It's now that Villeneuve was prematurely awarded the label of sci-fi genius after Arrival.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021

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