Review: ‘Dune’ relies on the cast instead of story

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Courtesy of Motion Picture Editors Guild

Dune released on October 22 in theaters and on HBO Max. TRL’s Audrey McCaffity said that “the story somehow feels underdeveloped.”

Based on the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, “Dune” provides viewers with a classic science-fiction story while setting up the foundation for a franchise. “Dune” released on Oct. 22 and brought in over 40 million dollars at the box office during its opening weekend. 

The film follows a young Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), as he finds his strength and power after his family is “granted” the opportunity to rule over the planet Arrakis. Arrakis holds the most valuable substance in the universe, the “spice.” This puts a target on the Atreides’ back, and Paul refuses to sit behind the scenes of any potential battles or political engagements, partially because of the unexplained visions he has been having. Throughout the movie, the viewer learns more about Paul and the family including the idea of Paul being a potential savior of the universe. The family is faced with more tragedy as Leto Atreides, Paul’s dad, (Oscar Isaac) dies. This forces Paul to step up and even helps to push his ability to use “the voice” (a controlling force) which his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) has attempted to teach him. At the end of the movie, Paul meets the person who he has seen in his visions, and effectively sets up the beginning of the next film.

“Dune” was a success before it was created into a movie, and because of this should  have been significantly better. Instead of leaning on the solid story that was already written, the movie seems to showcase a plethora of well known celebrities in hopes that it will pull audiences into the theater. While it no doubt accomplishes this, the story somehow feels underdeveloped, even after two and a half hours worth of footage. More time should have been spent introducing the plot or at least developing the characters. Part of the reason the film felt so long was that the first 30 minutes of it do not help the viewer to understand what is going on and barely moves the story forward. It does get more interesting as time goes on, but no one should need to sit through something that boring to get to something interesting.

There is no doubt the film was hard to create. The plot feels familiar to anyone who has watched a science fiction movie within the past 40 years, but “Dune” is developed so that the details separate it from the movies that had come before it. It leaves people invested in Paul’s future, and draws them into the story of Chani (Zendaya) who had limited screen time, but impacted the movie by drawing in pure anticipation from the viewer. It is a little ridiculous to have promoted Zendaya’s role in the film as much as they did, but what they did with the character sets up a second movie perfectly. 

The score of the movie fit perfectly with the eerie unknown that much of the film covered; however, at some points the dialogue seemed more muffled than it should have been leading to unnecessary confusion for the viewer. 

Overall, “Dune” accomplishes its purpose, but spends too much time doing so. Background information would have been beneficial to the film, but it still managed to produce a solid sci-fi movie. 

Rating: B-