Dune’s first divided critics hail an “immersive”, “breathtaking” cinema divided on narrative


Finally, a very long time ago, a new adaptation of Dune arrived on our planet.

Director Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated film, based on Frank Herbert’s beloved 1965 novel, premiered Friday at the Venice International Film Festival, and was finally screened in front of an audience after the coronavirus pandemic delayed its release for almost a year. Early reactions and reviews largely praised the film’s extravagant visuals and world-building, comparing it to benchmarks such as Star wars, The Lord of the Rings, and even 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Leah Greenblatt of EW gave the film a B, calling it “mind-boggling and a little maddening.” “[Dune] is exactly the kind of lush, high-end cinema that big screens were designed for; a sensory experience so opulent and overwhelming that it deserves to be seen in a big way, or not at all, ”she wrote in her review. “As he has proven on projects like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve’s gift for visual storytelling can be truly breathtaking – vast desert landscapes scrolling past like oceans and helicopters with dragonfly-wing-shaped blades where the rotors should be; the piercing resonance of the kidneys of Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack spilled over to ensembles of imposing enormity on a planet-wide scale. “

Photos of Warner Bros. Timothée Chalamet in ‘Dune’

Responses to the film’s story, however, have been more mixed. Villeneuve has often said that Dune was conceived as the first of a two-part film adaptation, and Greenblatt conceded that “The sheer wonder of Villeneuve’s execution … often obscures the fact that the plot is primarily a prologue: a story of sprawling origin with no fixed beginning or end. “

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman, meanwhile, wrote that “Dune is a film that earns five stars for world building and around two and a half for storytelling… It’s not just that the story loses its pulse. It loses the sense that we are emotionally invested in it. “

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich was even more blunt, calling the film a “massive disappointment” in his review and adding, “This lifeless spice opera is told on such a comedic scale that a screen of any size would be hard pressed to get it. contain… For all Villeneuve’s impressive vision, he loses sight of why Frank Herbert’s founding sci-fi opus is worthy of this epic spectacle in the first place. “

Wrote David Rooney of Hollywood journalist, “A lot of what we’re watching feels like a laborious setup for a hopefully more gripping movie to come – the boring homework before the juicy things start to happen.”

Still, many journalists have praised the film on social media, calling it a “film once in a generation”, “thrilling and emotionally authentic” and “a perfect epic that REQUIRES part 2”. The film seems intended to divide the general public as well as the critics; as EW’s Greenblatt wrote, “If you are already in the mythology of Herbert up to your knees, you will be delighted with every whispered word; if you walk in without knowing the difference between a Holtzman shield and a hole in the eye. ground, it’s a longer walk. “

Chia Bella James / Warner Bros. Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem and Timothée Chalamet in ‘Dune’

Dune stars a massive cast, including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and Rebecca Ferguson, in a complex tale of a family overseeing the colonized desert planet Arrakis, the sole source of the universe’s most precious substance, known as the spice name. After a bitter betrayal, Paul de Chalamet is drawn to the natives of Arrakis, the Fremen, who live in the deep desert.

Dune hits theaters and on HBO on Oct. 22 Max. You can see more of journalists’ reactions to the film below.

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