Denis Villeneuve’s Hot Take on the “Dune” Franchise


Sofia Felan

Fifty six years after its publication “Dune,” the popular science fiction novel by Frank Herbet receives a modern film adaptation.

Diego Gómez Bello, Staff Writer

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Release Date: Oct. 22, 2021

Starring: Timothee Chalamet (Paul Atreides), Oscar Issac (Leto Atreides I), Rebecca Fergusson (Lady Jessica), Zendaya (Chani), Jason Mamoa (Duncan Idaho), and Stellan Skarsgard (Baron Harkonnen)

Our Rating: A-

A tale of heartbreaking betrayal, planetary revolution and giant sand worms, “Dune” returns to the big screen in its second film adaptation. “Dune” is the story of Paul Atreides, the son of Duke Leto and Lady Jessica and his ascent to the galactic imperial throne. House Atreides is one of the many great houses that collectively form the Landsraad, a council that maintains the balance of power between the houses and the emperor of the universe. House Atreides rules over the lush planet of Caladan and is a well-respected and powerful house of the Landsraad which worries the emperor.

The emperor and the Sardaukar, elite imperial soldiers, then secretly collaborate with House Harkonnen, the sworn enemy of the Atreides, to wipe them out. The emperor orders the Atreides to move to Arrakis and take over spice harvesting from the Harkonnens. Spice, a psychedelic drug, is the most sought-after resource in the galaxy used by many organizations such as the Space Guild that enables their navigators to traverse interstellar space.

It was a very compelling movie. I liked the imagery a lot, the battles and planets were very cool. I disliked its storyline, as I thought that it was too bland and confusing,

— junior Alex Tabares

Arrakis or “Dune” is an unforgiving, hostile, desert planet. It is the home of the Fremen, fearsome warriors who sabotage spice harvesting operations. The Atreides shortly after their arrival are nearly wiped out in a planetary invasion by Harkonnen and Sardaukar forces. Paul and his mother flee to the desert and join the Fremen, which is where movie, part one of the book, ends.

“I liked the dune movie. It was a pretty movie but truthfully only good if you read the book. I loved the visuals the most, the effects department went off, but the fact that the movie was set up to be continued in another one was disappointing,” junior Edglhys Lopez said.

The movie adaptation is a visual wonder. Truly out of this world, the invasion of Arrakis, the cannons firing, the city and starships being engulfed in flames, the almighty Sardaukar mowing down the Atreides’s ranks were all terrifyingly powerful. In addition, the costuming was magnificent: cosmopolitan garments of the imperial envoys and nobles, the sleek stillsuits of the Fremen, and the high-tech armor of the soldiers were all appealing. The starships and ornithopters are very imaginative and the giant sandworms and the colossal sand waves the filmmakers designed are stunning. Seeing Frank Herbert’s world for yourself elevates the experience.

Although the movie was true to the plot of part one of the book, it was nonetheless a confusing adventure for those new to Dune. Like the book, the movie drops the viewer or reader right into the fray. It throws words like Bene Gesserit, Kwisatz Haderach, and Gom Jabbar at the audience which are supposed to make more sense as the story progresses but make the beginning puzzling. More could have been said to develop the relationship between the Harkonnen, Atreides, and emperor and explain the Bene Gesserit and Kwisatz Haderach for the viewer to properly appreciate the story. However, Villeneuve did well in developing main characters such as Paul, Duke Leto, and Lady Jessica through dialogue.

“Dune” was an incredible spectacle that was true to the book yet could have done more to appeal to newcomers. It would have been difficult to have included the entire story in the 2 hours and a half it spans but the coverage of the first part of the book was well done. This creation of a fantastic sci-fi world with a compelling plot and incredible characters is worth the watch.