Dune (2021) film adapts classic 60s novel


Dune (2021) is the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi/adventure novel of the same name. It is directed by Denis Villeneuve who known for Blade Runner 2049. The film also has a star-studded cast including, Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya. It has an 83% critic score and a 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. 

The film follows a young man named Paul Atreides (Chalamet) who is born to be the one who brings freedom to his people from a tyrannical empire. The story mainly takes place on Arrakis, a desert planet known for having the “most valuable resource in the universe” known as Spice. There are other planets, yet they are only briefly seen. The film’s pacing feels slow with its world building in the first half, going from one planet to another while we briefly meet our main characters and learn a bit about them. It does, however, keep your attention by having you wonder what will happen next. By the second half of the film the pace increases and keeps you on the edge of your seat while everything that can go wrong certainly does. By the end of the movie you’ll be yearning for what is going to happen to our main characters in the sequel, aptly named Part 2, set to debut in October 2023.

The visuals are eye popping with lots of crisp oranges, rich blues, and deep blacks. The score is used sparingly but it works when needed and sounds great. The writing is flawless, and the directing and cinematography is amazing. Villeneuve does a superb job bringing atmosphere and depth into each shot and making one wonder “Wow, what is going to happen now?”

Senior Jess Zemlicka reads Dune to learn what happens next. Photo by Cason Pratt

Viewers of this film will be very tempted to check out the original books to find out.

The biggest question is if you need to read the book to understand this newly adapted version? Absolutely not. There is enough material in the film that allows you to understand the story, why things are happening the way they are, and what is happening to our characters. With a 2 hour and 35-minute runtime it looks like a lot to take in, but the pacing helps keep you engaged with a lot of character building and well-choreographed fights. I highly recommend the film. Even if you’re not quite a sci-fi fan, there’s very little science fiction and it plays out like a traditional tragedy play of the old days with a dose of science fiction. Even to those whose film tastes are primarily set in reality, the film sets aside enough of the sci-fi to keep it grounded for everyone to enjoy.