“Dune,” the movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi masterpiece had a strong opening weekend. That’s especially impressive considering the movie was also streaming free for people who have HBO Max.
“Dune” is visually stunning. It’s a beautifully shot movie. It’s ambitious. It’s also extremely, extremely boooooring.
I get that director Denis Villeneuve made some bold choices with the tone and pacing of this film. It doesn’t “move” like a normal sci-fi blockbuster. I also get that Herbert’s novel has, since it’s publication, been called “unfilmable”. The 1980’s David Lynch version certainly makes that argument. “Dune” is somehow impressive without being enjoyable. I know what it feels like when I’m enjoying a movie. For one thing, I’m not checking the time on my phone every 15 minutes which is certainly did during “Dune”. How long was it? Two hours? Three? A Hundred and Fifty Seven? I honestly couldn’t tell you but it SEEMED like a small eternity.
I read “Dune” when I was in high school, as well as its first sequel. It wasn’t until the third hour of the 2021 movie that I suddenly remembered something: I thought the books were boring, too! I read them on the recommendation of an adult, whose opinion I respected. They knew I loved Star Wars so they recommended "Dune” with the caveat, “It’s pretty dense reading”. So, when I’m reading all about the economic impact of the disruption of the mélange spice trade, the power-posturing of all the noble houses and the prophecies of the all-female religious order, the Bene Gesserit, I was embarrassed by the fact that I found it all so…incredibly…dull. I had read Tolkein’s “The Silmarillion” AND “Moby Dick” by that time so I had some experience with boring books. My response was…that I pretended to like it (hence, why I read the sequel, “Dune Messiah”). It took seeing it on the screen, in all it’s gorgeous splendor to remind me: the novel was dull AF as well.
They just announced that “Dune II” is a go for 2023. Just based on what I remember from reading the books almost forty years ago, here’s what lies ahead for Paul Atreides: It turns out the Fremen recognize Paul as their prophesized messiah and he learns to ride those giant desert worms. He doesn’t marry Chani (Zendaya) but makes her his concubine so I guess that’s KINDA romantic? Also, I think I remember there’s a talking newborn baby at some point.
I can’t help but think “Dune” might have made a better TV Series. I know they did one in the early 2000s but that was on the SciFi channel and it shows (SciFi, remember, the network that brought us “Sharknado” AND “Dinocroc vs. Supergator”). I just feel like Netflix could have pumped enough money into it to make it a quality work without having to adhere to a single-movie format.
For what it’s worth, APPLE TV + just started doing exactly that with the only Science Fiction masterpiece that I found even more boring than “Dune”. Yep, an adaptation of Asimov’s “Foundation” epic just started airing a few weeks ago. I’ll watch it but I bet it’s boring, too.