Dune: Part Two (2024)
February 29, 2024 7:44 PM - Subscribe

Paul Atreides unites with Chani and the Fremen while seeking revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family.

The second movie (of possibly 3) which covers the rest of the first book in the Dune series.
posted by LizBoBiz (74 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Surpised I didn't see a post for this yet so here it is!

This is fanfare, so beware of spoilers if you havent seen it.

Lucky for me, it opened on the 29th in Australia, almost 2 whole days before most of the US will see it.

I was super excited and I was not disappointed! The film does end to coincide with the end of the first Dune book. The fight scenes were very well choreographed, I really enjoyed their guerilla warfare strategies, and the visuals were wonderful (I actually wish I would have sat a bit closer to the screen in the theatre to be fully immersed).

Some minor complaints/notes:
- the blue eyes were not very consistently blue, especially given it's their characteristic trait
- not enough of the Fremen were wearing the face masks for being out in the desert and all
-Interesting choice they made with the timeline of Alia's birth, but I think it's still ok
Is it too weird to have a toddler kill a grown man? By having her still unborn, they didn't really get into the Abomination part

-Also interesting that they made Irulan a good student
I liked it better that she is actually ineffectual in the book. I think they might be setting her up to be a villian in the 3rd movie but we'll see

My biggest complaint though:
- HOW COULD THEY DO CHANI LIKE THAT? I'm sad that they ended the movie with her being so mad at him. (Book spoilers hidden in my comments below)
In the books, Paul makes it very clear that Irulan is his wife in name only and that Chani was his love and to be the one to bear his children. I dont like that they've created extra drama here.

posted by LizBoBiz at 7:59 PM on February 29 [6 favorites]

I completely agree with your biggest complaint, LizBoBiz. I kept expecting that issue to get resolved, and the fact that it didn't really made the movie end on a sour note for me. I mean she was already mad at him before the marriage proposal due to his reneging on not wanting to embrace his messianic nature. But the option would've been a much more drawn out war with a lot more dead Fremen. Is that what we're to believe she preferred. I'm curious how someone who is unfamiliar with the source material viewed her whole arc, as and many of the other beats in the movie. Did all the pieces seem to connect? Where the characters' motivations clear?

Also, not sure how I felt about the decision to have Feyd-Rautha fight fairly instead of with a poisoned knife. It wasn't like making him fractionally more honorable would in any way redeem his sociopathy. Maybe it just required too much internal monologuing to work well on the big screen? And how obvious was his position as a Kwisatz Haderach also-ran to the audience? He was given the Gom Jabbar, like Paul, but was it clear that this was just given to males with "potential" in the breeding program? It was amusingly hinted that the reason he passed the test was because he got off on the pain. I don't remember of that was in the book.

Villeneuve also left out the stuff about Harah, Jamis's widow. I guess whatever meaning there having a secondary female Fremen character was basically subsumed into the gender-swapped Shishakli.
posted by xigxag at 10:54 PM on February 29 [2 favorites]

Oh and a couple more things I found interesting:

- that the Harkonen world was black and white, and artificially! We see the Baron and others in color but the culture is colorless apparently, which I thought was kind of cool.

- I really like that when it came time to bow to the new emperor, only three people did not: his mother, his lover, and his newly betrothed. I thought it was a nice touch that the three most important women did not bow to him.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:00 AM on March 1 [9 favorites]

I liked the way they expanded on the events and topics that were just mentioned in the books, but not described (family nukes, drowning the small worms, guerilla war against the Harkonnens, fremen rituals, etc.)

My biggest beef was with Stilgar becoming a bit of a comical character. As I recall from the books, he was a very shrewd political operator and I felt this naive religiosity out of character.

Also, Jessica throwing up on Arrakis was very weird - Bene Gesserit are supposed to have absolute control over their bodies, no?

But all in all, a very good adaptation, better than the first part.
posted by kmt at 1:52 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]

I liked the changes to Chani's story. I think it's a bit rubbish in the book that Chani meekly accepts Paul telling her "I'm going to marry another woman, but trust me babe she means nothing to me babe". I guess you can justify it as fantay social relations from the far future, funny how those fantasy relations allow men to have multiple wives and mistresses though isn't it.

Additionally, Chani gets to be the character to explicitly point out Paul's betrayal of the Fremen for his own revenge and ambition, and the turning point at which he uses the white saviour narrative to become worse than Hitler (in his own words). I think it's a great adaptational change.

About halfway through I was wondering if they were going to need a Part 3 to get to the end of the book. But they made it. I feel like the Water Of Life past and future vision sequences must have cut a bit. It was basically instant for Paul to go from "I need to see from the highest peak" to "OK saw the future, there's narrow path etc etc, here's the battle plan"

We did get the warriors riding sandworms into battle in front of a pyramid under a shiny spaceship though. Most metal movie visuals since Thor Ragnarok?
posted by other barry at 2:12 PM on March 1 [28 favorites]

I agree other barry. I also loved the movie ending on Chani's face and not Paul's, and I didn't see it as she was just mad or hurt, but also defiant and independent and a whole other range of things-- and she was a fully formed person, not someone kinda bummed out on the sidelines. There is a point in the film I realized we were now watching from her POV, not Paul's.

If we get an extended edition, I want more water of life vision wackiness.

There were moments in this film where I could finally understand the awe I hear Star Wars fans speak of when they talk about seeing it for the first time. This movie felt like total science fiction to me- and not the sci-fi where I can make the easy leap to fill in the blanks in time to know how we got from X to Y to Z. It was alien and surreal and uncomfortable in parts. The fireworks really sent my brain into space in the best way.

I am a Dune aesthetics over book plot person and this film delivered. It is Fritz Lang meets Joel-Peter Witkin. I can't wait to see it again.
posted by haplesschild at 3:29 PM on March 1 [23 favorites]

I thought it was possibly a good movie, but I don't think it was a good Dune movie

Some of the plot points it hit, it got the meaning wrong, or the cause and effect wrong, or the intention wrong, etc. One thing that comes to mind is that in the book, It's Feyd who leaves a slave undrugged, not the baron. This was, as I recall, to make it seem like maybe there was an attempt on him, to look heroic etc. The slave was also set to respond to a keyword from Feyd to go limp. This ties into his relationship with the slave master which was later important. At almost all points in the book, it's Feyd who wants to kill the Baron, not the other way around

(there were more points like this in the movie, IMO, where they had the right plot point but it meant the wrong thing, but I am drawing a bit of a blank at the moment)

I hated the depiction of Stilgar. The audience in the theater laughed out loud at him. I also think they avoided really getting into the issue of the fremen tradition of killing a leader to become the leader, and WHY it was so important to Paul to avoid that (he believed that taking leadership in the fremen way would lead to the jihad or make it worse. He also feared (or should have) that not doing it would get him killed or cast out). He was trying to walk a very thin line to a specific outcome and that was a big part of it.

I did... not love the portrayal of "practical modern" fremen vs the "southern fundamentalists". I think it was an interesting thought to have people openly proclaim that the prophecies were bullshit and like I said, that might be part of a good movie, but it didn't seem part of the dune mythos to me.

I freshly read Dune last month - probably I would like the movie a lot better if I hadn't, because I d think it kind of had the right feel and stuff, but at the moment, it's all very fresh in my mind.
I didn't think most of the main characters could pull off the straight faced required gravitas, esp Paul, Chani and the Emporer. I love Walken but he's a bad choice for the Emporeer. For some reason it reminded me of casting Harvey Keitel in The Last Temptation of Christ
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:52 PM on March 1 [7 favorites]

They also left out so much stuff that makes anyone's motivation make sense

Spice was not of all consuming importance in the Dune universe, except to the Guild, but no one was supposed to know that. The Emporor was (eventually) very interested in Dune because he came to think that it was a place that bred hard warriors like the Sardukar and that it would end up being a threat to him

The guild was almost completely (or completely?) left out of the 2 Dune movies - no appearance in the 2nd movie, don't remember if they appear in the first

They kinda never mention that the southern hemisphere of dune is not surveilled by anyone (because the guild doesn't permit it, because the fremen bribe them)

They never mention that Kines had been setting up Dune to become more livable for decades, in a plan that would take more decades or even centuries. Never mention it at all as I recall, instead, Paul is somehow going to lead the fremen into making Dune a green world. This is the reason that the fremen don't want anyone to see the southern hemisphere - they've been greening it up

ETA: I thought it was weird that Paul's threat to the emporer was to... nuke the spice? How would that even work? What does it even mean? But I guess as a mcguffin it's as good as anything (in the books Paul knew that he could kill all the worms by converting the water of life or something)
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:57 PM on March 1 [9 favorites]

You make good points, other barry. One thing I really did like about their relationship is that unlike the vast majority of romances in SF blockbusters, they fall in love like adults, not like adolescents. That is, we see them observing each other warily, and eventually bonding over teaching and learning, and savored triumphs before they consummate their relationship. None of this Disneyfied falling in love over telling quippy jokes, "she likes you bro!" from the fellas, silly fighting over ridiculous misunderstandings, etc. They did fight but it was over weighty and consequential differences, not over forced trivialities. On the whole Villeneuve avoided cheapening the source material. Any other director would've played up Paul's love for the little desert rats for marketing purposes. Instead of Paul just adopting their name, maybe make him carry a little mascot into battle chittering on his shoulder. And talk to the little guy using his magical "Quiz Hats" powers. At least a stylized muad'dib on the flag to go along with a beloved Funko Pop! tie-in; the bean counters must've been hankering for that.
posted by xigxag at 7:10 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]

I am a major Timmy stan, but this pithy review from an acquaintance still made me bust out laughing on a crowded bus home this evening:

"no special effects budget, no matter how large, can hide the truth that Timothée Chalamet runs like a dork. Chasing a giant sand worm on Arrakis? He still looks like he’s running late to his postmodernism seminar at Amherst."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 PM on March 1 [30 favorites]

Chani was his love and to be the one to bear his children. I dont like that they've created extra drama here.

(a) The political issues are hugely important to her personally, and Paul has just blown up everything that matters most to her.

(b) We have a deep-provincial concubine suddenly being made aware (apparently without any preparation) that she's insufficiently valuable to marry. Instead, her boyfriend is taking up with this highly sophisticated and gorgeous princess (sure, I think most people would rank regular Zendaya and Florence Pugh in about the same tier of ridiculous good-lookingness, but if we imagine Zendaya looking like Zendaya would actually look after months fighting in the desert drinking her own urine, it's less obvious it's essentially a tie) who is from his world. He can make all the promises he wants, but she'd be a fool to accept them blindly.

(It's also not clear in this moment that Paul won't have any children with Irulan. Indeed, while this universe seems more mellow about illegitimate children inheriting than the world it was modeled on, arguably he needs to have them to secure the throne to House Atreides. But I'm not sure Chani is thinking that far, or has the offworld knowledge to do so.)

I actually liked this change, unlike many of them.
posted by praemunire at 11:43 PM on March 1 [21 favorites]

We watched part one tonight (seeing part two later. Am totally unafraid of spoilers.) and what I'd forgotten was that the very beginning of part one is from Chani's point of view - she's the first character we see - so, in some ways the whole thing could be seen as her telling the story of how she gets to the end of part two.

Although whether that's a coherent comment obviously depends on having seen part two, which I will have done in about five hours' time.
posted by Grangousier at 4:09 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]

The sandworm riding scene is a great example of how this movie landed for me. I knew what was going to happen, having read the book and seen the 1984 movie plenty. I even said to myself "I really hope they don't use a lot of time on this." And yet, the scene was riveting and exciting (maybe in a roller coaster ride kind of way, but still).

The movie as a whole pulled off the size of the space opera. I'm mixed on the ending. I'd rather Paul had explained things to Chani and she still walks off. Then we're left with more of a decision.
posted by kokaku at 11:51 AM on March 2 [5 favorites]

Also, yes Christopher Walken was a terrible casting decision. But Léa Seydoux as Margot Fenrig was excellent.
posted by kokaku at 11:52 AM on March 2 [7 favorites]

Sad to hear Walken didn’t pan out. I’d had some faint hope but after I saw him in the trailers I was pretty sure it wouldn’t work. My read on the Emperor in the first novel has always been a red-headed version of Charles Dance in the Jamie-Tywin deer skinning scene (CW: animal being butchered). Maybe not in his prime physically but still plenty tough and viper-smart by anyone’s standard.

“Real” IMAX tickets are booked but it’ll be a couple weeks yet. Looking forward to it.
posted by Ryvar at 12:14 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]

I found the first two thirds superb, the ending a shade less so... slightly too abrupt of a jump into a headlong rush to resolution. Like others I really hope there's some water of life / jihad / post-jihad flash-forward material that's been held back for a director's cut, I think that could rebalance things a bit better.

I think the changes to the ending dynamic of Paul and Chani are necessary, given that the rest of the two films and Zendaya's performance have been so successful in turning her into such a stronger, more significant character. I do think they shot Paul looking a bit too know-it-all smug there though. Maybe that's also something that'll be sorted out in a director's cut with flash-forwards?

Once again the experience of seeing this on a large screen and most importantly with a large sound system was incredible. The score and sound design is just mind blowing, overwhelming but so tightly controlled at the same time. The body feel of the bass during Paul's worm-ride made it for me, it carried the whole thing through the haze and confusion and I think let the scene be as drawn out as possible without any resorting to slow motion. And the moment of silence in the Paul / Chani crawler battle scene before the thopter then crashes behind them was #chefkiss.
posted by protorp at 12:15 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]

Overheard at the theater: "So, the moral of the story is, don't drink poison, because otherwise none of this shit would have happened" 🤣

(Proper thoughts later)
posted by Space Kitty at 4:09 PM on March 2 [3 favorites]

I'm curious how someone who is unfamiliar with the source material viewed her whole arc, as and many of the other beats in the movie. Did all the pieces seem to connect? Where the characters' motivations clear?

I have SO much to say about this movie and I'm gonna have to take some time to write it all out.

I asked my partner, who is relatively geeky but has never read any Dune books the above question. The response was an emphatic NO. They were very confused with Paul saying he would love Chani until his last breath and then almost immediately saying Irulan would be his wife.

When discussing on the way home about politics, wives in name only, concubines (hello, Jessica?), etc. my hunny got it. But, it was definitely not clear to them during the movie.

Like I said, I will have more to say later. To this particular point, it seems like Villenueve didn't really serve the audience who haven't read even the first book. I would even argue there was a whole lot in part 2 that really veers off what was in the book, but it's been a while since my last full read.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:52 PM on March 2

Marvelous but much too much compressed.

So many small details that should have blossomed into at least smaller flowers but were left unexamined.

The B&W Harkonnen stuff, I felt that that was a little pretentious, but switching back to (limited) colour when Fenris was in frame was made more powerful I guess.
posted by porpoise at 11:33 PM on March 2

Also, not sure how I felt about the decision to have Feyd-Rautha fight fairly instead of with a poisoned knife. xigxazg

Feyd in all incarnations fights with the the Emperor's personal blade, which had an acid rather than a protein-based venom/ poison.

Paul figured out how to generate neutralizing antibodies/ catalytic enzymes to just about anything on demand - ie., turn water of life into something psychoactive (in the novels) SO any poison that Feyd might have applied to a blade is trash. *

Yeah, wasn't sure exactly how Paul was able to power his way over and after being stabbed deeply in the shoulder.

Lynch's version paid a little more attention to this part of the story.

* not cannon, just fanciful speculation)) Bene Gesserit stuff - it's on-demand manipulation of RNA transcripts at the cellular level is the medium through which the witchy stuff expresses as

and (retconning, now) the witchy stuff is because Herbert didn't know about RNA and transposons

posted by porpoise at 11:48 PM on March 2

This is maybe going to sound nitpicky, but for a movie that spends so much time on fighting and on the mystique of its fighters, it seems to have no idea what tactics these highly skilled warriors might adopt within its own rules.

For example, no shields on the ground in the desert because they attract worms. OK. That means that ranged weapons are available for use, and all the Fremen should be snipers. You see them use this tactic once, at the very beginning, but then it's right back to fighting while trying not to get crushed by heavy machinery or slaughtered by thopter fire.

And...the Fremen have laser weapons and magnetic mines, but it apparently only occurs to them to start using them against the heavy machinery once Paul joins them? There really is a moment where you say to yourself, wait, why weren't you using these all along? Ditto for thopters. Do they have them? Do they not have them? (*) If they have them, why don't they use them until the very end? They are clearly vulnerable to Arrakis weather, but the one time the Fremen do use them is when a giant storm is coming on.

And...no one in House Corrino thinks that their massive space personnel carriers might need some air protection while grounded???

(*) We'll leave out the whole thing where the Fremen apparently aren't working with the spice-smugglers, so how in the world are they getting all the resources they need to support their civilization?
posted by praemunire at 11:55 PM on March 2 [6 favorites]

I have strong issues with the casting. They're all great actors, etc., but I feel the movie is over-cast, as in they didn't need to bring in so many A-listers, it overpowers the characters.

In detail:

Timothée Chalamet: never stops being Timothée. His floppy hair is completely unnecesary and distracting. If he'd shaved it, the role might have worked better. Has very little chemistry with Zendaya.

Zendaya: Never stops being Zendaya. Her facial expressions, her accent, her vibe. There's very little Chani here. Has very little chemistry with Paul.

Florence Pugh: Is great.

Austin Butler: Is great. Has the most chemistry with Paul.

Javier Bardem: Looks the part (as in, get somebody brown) but overplays the whole non-anglo person obessesed with mystical BS. In the book he is a believer, but also a strong, resolute leader, etc.

Léa Seydoux: A little too gorgeous, too Léa. Didn't get that vibe from the countess in the book. Borderline IMO.

Christopher Walken: the worst choice (besides Chalamet's hair). Not sure if he knows he's acting in Dune.

Josh Brolin: never stops being Josh, but not a bad choice for Gurney, TBH.

Anya Taylor-Joy: shows up for fifteen seconds as St. Alia of the Knife. I will withhold my judgement until we see her actually play the part. She might be great at it.

In general, I feel that the decision to use famous actors for so many parts diminishes their impact, as you're distracted by the faces and the beauty and the contrast with the other roles they've played before.
posted by signal at 4:43 AM on March 3 [8 favorites]

Ugh, it was fucking amazing. I guess I have no idea who these actors are, I don't follow their hobbies, that was not a problem for me, I was just in it.

Yes there was a lot of economy in this, nothing breathed, but it was so epic, and it took my breath away. It was an intense three hours that felt 90 minutes.

I liked the changes, having never really been a fan of "history will know us as wives." I have felt that that ending was very 'tell, not show' in the book. The film picked the clear drama and fear of tyranny over the intimate confidence and ambiguities of the book, and i'm fine with that direction, it is consistent and we got cinematic gut punches. I can always re read the books again.

I do think this movie's choices were made with the knowledge that we got the psychedelic Dune 1984, and the lore-and-intrigue SciFi channel miniseries. Those interpretations are out there, this one is different. We already got 'stoic concubine' Chani on film if we want it.

I enjoyed that Chani's abnegation (walking out of rooms) is a recurring part of her character and that Chani is the audience surrogate by the end. Her character is physical, she is a fighter, she has survived so much death as an insurgent in the north, and she hates decisions made on faith because of it. it makes more sense.

I enjoyed that the water of life changed our Dune 1 protagonists into demons. That was a choice, following up on the choice not to engage with the psychedelic, but, we knew that from Dune 1. That the water of life actually changes our characters is a dramatic choice, but a good one. This was there in the 1984 Dune, but it was subtle. This movie chose economy and drama over subtlety in Paul and Jessica, and got a subtle Irulan in exchange.

The weakness of the other two movies is their failure to convey that Paul is a villain. Especially if we get a third movie, Paul must be a hero in this movie and a villain for Dune 3. so I liked that they amped up that drama. We lose Jessica's character, we got a Jessica/Alia hybrid character that was unsettling instead.

the Fremen have laser weapons and magnetic mines, but it apparently only occurs to them to start using them against the heavy machinery once Paul joins them? There really is a moment where you say to yourself, wait, why weren't you using these all along?

Fremen were using ranged weapons in the last movie, weren't they introduced in the last movie as using lasers as eco-terrorists? so...not sure

We are overthinking it, but also, they use the Sand and darkness to fight more in this film than others. there are no lasers that can penetrate sand. There is one scene where the fight is not dictated by terrain, and it's the 'fanatics' charging en masse into Arrakeen, so I thought that went along with Paul's statement that he was leading fundamentalists.

I really thought we were going to see that the post Atomics charge would be more suicidal, honestly, with more obvious Fremen casualties, to follow Stilgar's arc and presage "Lead them to Paradise"

And use of terrain was introduced in the last movie. lasers don't work in the dust. that bit I loved, in this movie, and the last movie, there is more use of the desert winds and dust in strategy and tactics. It makes using the storm more climactic, a pinnacle on a climb rather than a twist.

The visuals of the dust and wind were amazing, in the sand riding scene and the nuke scene. The banners twisting in the wind. Paul running into the collapsing dune, and the terror of his fall into darkness. amazing, and amazing sound with visuals, and it recalled the thropter in the dust storm scenes of Dune 1. the Sand is a character throughout.

Also, Stilgar's journey into zeal? Fantastic!
Look, we have solemn 1984 Stilgar intoning "Shai-Hulud" on top of the sand forever, and the profane but badass 'Usul no longer needs the module, ha' joyous warrior Stilgar.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey from "I have no time for any of this shit" Stilgar of Dune 1
to 'What the hell, there are signs, I can't deal with this, there's too much' Stilgar,
to 'the Mahdi is humble' Stilgar,
to the end, where Paul has given him everything he has dreamed of, and he is a fanatic.

The Fremen have always been a bit Orientalist and monolithic in the book-- and it's a surprise when the Fremen are against Paul in the later books, after they have gone into war frenzy and are in a 'morning after' kind of hatred. I do not think it is set up as well as it is in this movie.

It is told and not shown in the books. Here, we are shown the tensions among the Fremen, and shown them between major characters. This is an addition, it's a dramatic choice, it's a consistent choice, and it's a strong choice, it gives cinematic weight to something that I feel is a weakness in the books.
posted by eustatic at 7:55 AM on March 3 [19 favorites]

The only thing I didn't like is that they made Feyd -Rautha less despicable than 1984, no poison blade. But hey, choices and economy.

I wanted him to die like a dog, like Raban did, and not to go out with the honor of his final line. But you know, he was still pretty despicable overall.

I enjoyed the insane sci fi look of Gedi-Prime. The frozen postures of the servants, the reaction of servants to cruelty of Feyd-Rautha, all of that visualizes things that are more conceptual in the source material, and they amped it up and I liked it.

I enjoyed Feyd's squicky dominance over his brother, it was a way of showing deviance without (i thought) the homophobia that is haunting the Harkonnens in the books and 1984.
posted by eustatic at 8:09 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who found Walken not very good. I was wondering if there was something to his performance that I wasn't getting. Every scene with him took me out of the movie, like "Oh this is Christopher Walken acting like Christopher Walken."

The rest I was totally onboard with. Even my 12 year old loved the movie. I was concerned that he wouldn't have the attention span for it, but he loved it.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:11 AM on March 3 [1 favorite]

that's really the problem with casting Walken... he's one of many older actors and actresses who, at this point, only come across as their persona on screen rather than the character (for example, Pacino, DeNiro, Eastwood, Mirren)
posted by kokaku at 9:43 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]

The extended attack on the spice harvester was on a clear day. It's not that I genuinely care so much about weapons and tactics (although the movie professes to care about fighting skill, which draws attention to it), it's more that I was watching throughout for how Paul serves as the key to unlock desert power after decades of what seems to be brave, determined, and ingenious, but ultimately inconclusive, Fremen insurgency. Most of the unique things he does contribute (access to atomics, the ability to credibly challenge the Emperor, having been pre-cast in a role in their religion and finally being willing to embrace that) are important to the final resolution, but come too late for when the tides begin to turn. And while we know he has fragmentary visions even prior to taking the Water of Life, we don't get a convincing demonstration of his exploiting it for combat purposes until, again, very late, when his abilities have solidified. (Stilgar thinks that he used prescience at one point in the spice harvester attack, but since it's not signaled at all in the fight, that feels like Stilgar imposing his narrative on the story.) Paul says he has intimate knowledge of the Harkonnens to contribute, but where do we see it? It feels like an unsolved practical problem. If Villeneuve were trying to say it's basically beginner's luck/a fresh pair of eyes (like Lawrence being willing to cross the Anvil of the Gods precisely because he's a thrillseeker unaccustomed to the ways of the desert) and that's part of the whole tragedy of it, he could've been a lot clearer, and, let's face it, this movie, while a lot of things, ain't subtle.

As far as I can tell, everyone thought Walken was a miscasting.
posted by praemunire at 10:58 AM on March 3 [2 favorites]

Agreed on Walken. Lynch’s choice to make explicit parallels to 19th century Great Game politics with his production design for the emperor was one of the strengths of the 1984 Dune, while in this one the emperor just seemed like he was flying in from Space Esalen. Other than that, fantastic movie and I appreciated getting the book politics into the actual text.
posted by migurski at 4:59 PM on March 3 [2 favorites]

I haven't read the books, and I've seen the 1984 movie, but it has been a long time. I'm not steeped in Dune lore.

I thought this was great. I'm glad they took Channi's ending in a different direction. I was vaguely aware that she's
a concubine in the books, and I appreciate the update. I wasn't confused about why Paul abandoned her - he said there was a narrow path, and he was clearly asking her to understand when he told her he would always love her.

I'm very glad we didn't have a lot of moody, borderline-incomprehensible water of life weirdness. I thought Walken was fine. The Emperor seems to be mostly a cipher anyway.

For me the parallels between Paul and the Fremen and Daenerys and the Dothraki became very apparent after watching this. So much so that it makes me give GRRM some side eye.
posted by jeoc at 5:03 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]

Feyd in all incarnations fights with the the Emperor's personal blade, which had an acid rather than a protein-based venom/ poison.

In the book it's some kind of a muscle-slowing soporific on the knife, but he also has some other poison needle thing on his hip. Paul synthesizes an acid on his own blade to even the odds when he reveals he knows about the soporific.
posted by juv3nal at 5:12 PM on March 3

Too bad Christopher Lee was no longer available.
posted by praemunire at 5:32 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]

Stuff I did like:

* First, this pair of movies was a monumental undertaking and Villeneuve tackled them with care, attention, and imagination. We got an actual personal vision rather than mindless hitting of the beats on an established IP. Any complaints would be unfair without acknowledging this context.

* As I alluded to above, I really liked the handling of Chani, who I remember from the book as being nearly a non-entity. The ending, of her walking away with Paul's words about her coming to understand ominously hanging in the air, was great. How often does a woman get to do that? (It was also probably the most Villeneuve could do to write "PAUL IS WRONG AND THE FREMEN ARE GOING TO LOSE EVERYTHING IN THE END" in fiery letters in the sky without inciting a riot.)

* Stilgar essentially had to carry the humanity/practicality of the Fremen on his back, and he did a decent job. He wants to believe so badly, yet you can see at the key moment that he is stunned by the fulfillment of the "prophecy."

* Set design generally good, exception being "Space Esalen."

* For all the pretty actors, this is the least horniest version of Dune possible--which certainly sets it apart from the 1984 version!--but I liked Margo's seduction of Feyd-Rautha. I wasn't sure they could make Lea Seydoux's cute little upturned nose unsettling, but they did.

* Giedi Prime still went on too long, but I also liked the black fireworks.

* Putting aside Walken, the casting remained good. The fetus was...a little silly, but Anya Taylor-Joy could work as Alia.

* The sandworm-riding sequence was excellent, leaving the viewer as battered as Paul must have felt. (I wish the triple sandworm emergence at the end hadn't been in the trailer; I think it took the shock away from what otherwise would've been a terrifying, even awe-inspiring, sight.)
posted by praemunire at 6:01 PM on March 3 [8 favorites]

Paul synthesizes an acid on his own blade to even the odds when he reveals he knows about the soporific.

no, crysknives have acid on them naturally.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:13 PM on March 3

I defer to your presumably deeper knowledge, but he does say “Only a little acid to counter the soporific on the Emperor’s blade.” I think it's not unreasonable to infer from "only a little" that he has control of how much, which if the knife were intrinsically acidic, he wouldn't, right?
posted by juv3nal at 7:40 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]

Oh man. Oh man, I have so many thoughts about this movie. I really liked it -- not every second was perfect, but the overall thing was amazing. I felt like Villeneuve deeply understood the book, and performed a real act of adaptation -- sharpening the message of the original work, making it filmic, and letting us see his perspective on the story. To pick out my favorite directorial touch, let me talk about the changes to Chani's character. I believe these were crucially important to the message of the film, and I think they were extremely smart.

Here's why: all previous tellings of this story (including the original books!) left the audience feeling at the end of Dune that Paul is an uncomplicated hero. Win the fight, humble your enemies, kiss the girl(s) -- you're a hero, hooray for you! What audiences missed -- and what Frank Herbert wrote Dune Messiah to make clear -- is that Paul has made a very disturbing, problematic choice to embrace genocide, fanaticism, and colonial dominance as a route to absolute power. At the beginning of the story, he had the potential to follow in his father's footsteps. Duke Leto was a sort of King Arthur, leading virtuously -- he loved and was loved by the people he led. Paul tries on this kind of leadership for a moment, but as the story goes on, he becomes darker and more ruthless than literally anyone in the universe. Paul is not a good guy. In many ways, he is no better than -- in fact, he is much more dangerous than -- the despicable Feyd-Rautha, his dark mirror. Paul's story is a tragedy of hubris, not a tale of superhero triumph.

By making Chani a skeptical audience for Paul (and the manipulative colonialist prophecies) from the beginning, Villeneuve allows this tension to play out in front of us without requiring a whole lot of heavy-handed exposition. Chani is asking herself -- is this guy for real? I think he is -- I think I might care for him -- I think I might love him, even. I'm beginning to trust him, but I don't feel completely sure. Can I ever feel completely sure that he really cares for me, and for the Fremen, given who he is? You see this conflict playing over Zendaya's face throughout the film -- and it mirrors how we might feel as the audience, wondering whether we're supposed to root for Paul or be afraid of him. The film ends on Chani's face -- she looks betrayed, despairing, angry, and hopeless. By highlighting Paul's personal betrayal of Chani, Villeneuve is also highlighting how Paul has betrayed his allies, the Fremen. He has gone from supporting their desire for self-determination to manipulating and using them as instruments of his personal power. Paul has also betrayed his personal values, his desire to be better than the Harkonnens. Villeneuve is saying loud and clear: this will not end well.

I could say more, but in short -- I really liked it! I am very much looking forward to seeing what Villeneuve does with Dune Messiah, and I'm so glad he'll have the chance to finish this story.
posted by ourobouros at 11:23 AM on March 4 [46 favorites]

Thanks for writing all that.

Paul says he has intimate knowledge of the Harkonnens to contribute, but where do we see it?

If we don't see it, and I don't remember seeing it, does it reinforce 'breaking bad' of Paul's choice to 'go south' and recruit a massive army, rather than continuing to conduct 'Northern' style insurgency strikes?

Is that line just there to highlight that there was, perhaps, a 'Northern' way to deal with the emperor? One that was not selected?

I feel like this possibility of conducting intelligence -based sorties is then off the table after Feyd moves to conventional, total war. 'artillery, genius' (what is genius about artillery? Harkonnens are just cruel)

I think the answer to what does Paul contribute, is "the bad stuff, and then Paul broke bad"

Probably we should not get into what is more of an impossible power-supply-logistics challenge, mythical lasers or mythical levitation tech, or why don't Sardukar use lasguns once the Sandworms are already arrived...this is already the most 'MilNerd' Dune movie of them all.

Besides, Miles Teg hasn't been born yet
posted by eustatic at 1:49 PM on March 4

'artillery, genius' (what is genius about artillery? Harkonnens are just cruel)

That was another incomprehensible bit, made worse by the Baron's commentary. Those were clearly standard weapons. If the Harkonnens knew where all the northern sietches were, and they'd been struggling with losses to the insurgents for years, what the hell had they been waiting for? It wasn't like Rabban was too nice to do such a thing himself. I half-expected to learn that Lady Jessica had leaked the info to drive Paul south.
posted by praemunire at 2:45 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]

Just left the theater, am exhausted. Seriously that movie is very long, very loud, and without emotional relief. Two and a half grim hours of misery. No joy or love or happiness. Not saying that's bad, I certainly don't want or need dumb laugh lines or artificial levity. But it was very demanding to sit through.

I agree with Ourobouro; this new writing for Chani makes the most interesting theme of the Dune story so much more explicit. The weirdness of Paul being a messiah, both of the Fremen's manufactured religion on Arrakis and then also the Bene Gesserit's actual messiah. And how awful his leadership is fated to become. Seeing Chani explicitly grapple with that, to call Paul out for his selfishness and to resist the religious fanaticism of her own people. I liked how that was all so explicit because while it may be in the book it's not nearly as clear.

OTOH I was uncomfortable with how Muslim-coded all the Fremen stuff was. That's in the original books too, famously so, but I was under the impression that Villeneuve was going to downplay that. But there's Paul literally being called the Mahdi, and a bunch of guys praying in the desert in the style that sure looks like Muslim prayer. Not to mention the heavy use of the name "Lisan al Gaib". I guess Villeneuve chose to stick with Herbert's characterization afterall. I fear that choice is problematic in a movie made for audiences that are largely ignorant of actual Muslim cultures.
posted by Nelson at 4:08 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]

I thought it was pretty amazing. I have read four out of the five Frank Herbert novels and seen all the other Dune film productions before. To reiterate what others have said earlier, it felt very long, and almost exhausting but in a good way. I recall thinking over and over again, "well, they're gonna have to skip this next part if they're gonna get to the end inside the runtime," and then the film showed the thing I was sure would be edited out. It felt amazingly comprehensive; the only character whose absence I really noted was Count Fenring, which is saying something.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the sequence on Giedi Prime. The Harkonnen homeworld doesn't get a lot of attention in the novels and I thought the visual presentation was striking. Evidently Villaneuve envisioned the black and white palette as a consequence of the planet's sun and fillmed the entire sequence with infrared photography, lending it that eerie, unnatural feeling. I also thought the pit fight was amazing. The black-clad evil jester fight pit attendants (or whatever) were genuinely terrifying to me when they slid out of the shadows to 'moderate' the fight.
posted by mmcg at 4:36 PM on March 4 [8 favorites]

As a big fan of the book this disappointed me. Not because of plot changes or omissions. But because of the shallow personalities. In Dune the book you have mature people vying for power with inteligence and subtlety. But this movie? Sulky teenagers stomping out of rooms. Also that scene near the end where Paul stands all by himself right in front of the bare blades of the Sardaukar and says, "Kill them all!" and they just stand there? Even in movie logic that makes no sense.

The baby sandworm was neat though.
posted by mono blanco at 6:41 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]

I liked that scene a lot. It showed people moving familiarly through a strange world. The baby worm keeper had a very convincing demeanor as a kind of artisan.

(IIRC in the book Jessica had to be tricked into taking the Water of Life, as there's absolutely no way she'd just head off to Arrakis without some basic knowledge of BG practices on the planet, but that's neither here nor there.)
posted by praemunire at 9:30 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]

ourobouros: Here's why: all previous tellings of this story (including the original books!) left the audience feeling at the end of Dune that Paul is an uncomplicated hero. Win the fight, humble your enemies, kiss the girl(s)

Reading this helped me put into words something I was struggling to articulate that I didn't like about the movie. The movie showed us Paul having lost, or abandoned, his humanity and becoming hardened, cruel, and power-mad. But you unintentionally used the word I needed to describe Paul at the end of the book. Paul at the end of the book is humbled. He understands that he has failed. The only thing he wanted - with apparently infinite power in his grasp - was peace, and peace is impossible. He's realized that the actual best he can do is give Irulan some inspirational quotes for her books. I thought that was more of an interesting turn. (As a note, he doesn't say the thing about needing to think/act like Harkonnens in the book; his reaction to learning he's a Harkonnen is first to mourn and then to realize that he loves/empathizes with the Harkonnens even if he is forced to kill them.)

Speaking of Irulan:

LizBoBiz: I liked it better that she is actually ineffectual in the book.

I also liked her book characterization better but she's not ineffectual. She literally controls the narrative.

(That said, I'm only talking about Dune the book here; it's possible that the sequels - which I haven't read - take her character in a worse direction.)
posted by capricorn at 6:56 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

Can I just say, I liked the sandworm-riding. That looked really cool. And allow me to be the outlier and say that I hated every minute on the Harkonnen fetish club planet, and would've been happy to cut half of it. Also, I thought it was interesting that Jessica switched back to Bene Gesserit fashions as soon as she secured her political power. I don't know how much of this is a statement to the mother superior vs pursuing the clothing of power that made the most sense to her, but I liked it.

Walken was...okay. I tried to think of him as the mob boss guy in Suicide Kings and liked it more? But yeah, I think I would've preferred someone else. Surely someone has asked during the press tour -- was his casting inspired by his appearance in the Fatboy Slim video? It just seems weird, otherwise.
posted by grandiloquiet at 4:04 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]

I feel like if you're only seeing Christopher Walken in his performance as the Emperor, then that's on you. I saw it too, at first, but you have to look beyond the actor, which is something that is nearly impossible considering it's Christopher Walken. He's not doing a Christopher Walken caricature, which has comprised most of his career for the last quarter century, starting with the "More Cowbell" sketch on SNL (there was also Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" the same year), he is acting, he's doing a tired old man Emperor (I think it actually could be some kind of larger commentary on Biden but I'm not prepared to make a case at this time), but he's in there, and it's hard not to see him. It might even be hard for him not to do it, but that's just the way talks.

I actually think his role in Dune might be part of a larger conscience effort by Walken to bring his career into a new silver era—his closing act, if you will—where he's taking on roles where he can flex his dramatic acting chops and be more than just "Christopher Walken" (this is not exactly alien to aging actors, Robert De Niro has recently started trying again). Walken might have even signaled this with his recent Super Bowl ad "Talkin Like Walken". That spot comes across as Walken closing the door on that era Walken and driving into a new unknown. In a BMW, mind you. Maybe it's too late for him to go back, but I think he's trying something. The fact that none of us can see beyond the legend could be indication that it's not working.

*Seeing his next project is a musical comedy starring John Travolta and Katherine Heigl does not bode well for this theory.
posted by guiseroom at 4:26 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]

Evidently Villaneuve envisioned the black and white palette as a consequence of the planet's sun...
Not one sun: three stars. Herbert located the planets featured in Dune within real systems: the Harkonnen homeworld of Giedi Prime orbits the "B" star of 36 Ophichi, a rare triple stellar system in which the first two stars, orbiting relatively close together, are of equal size and luminosity, while the third is only slightly smaller and more distant. As such, any planet in the system would be lit almost constantly from three directions, explaining the over-saturated illumination seen in exterior shots.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:52 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]

Yes, but in the movie, there's a reference to a (single) "black sun" to explain it.
posted by praemunire at 7:51 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]

during the start of the assault on arrakeen i was struck by how i'm pretty sure this is the first movie i've seen (aside from wwii movies, of course) where the pov characters' side uses atomic bombs. like i found myself feeling completely horrified on this reflexive animal level, despite knowing that they were nuking the shield wall instead of the city.

anyway, people of metafilter: i'm certain there's other war movies where the pov side does a nuclear first strike and the pov side isn't the united states in the 1940s but i sure can't think of any plz help
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 6:44 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]

Great question. I feel like there are more movies where we don't know who shot first, because the exchange eliminated civilization

Dune Nukes seem to live outside of MAD, since there is space travel and many planets.

As far as Walken, people might be complaining about his lack of affect, I think. I don't understand

what people mean when they say 'bad casting' vs ' bad performance', but the changes to the character, and Irulan's character show that he is feeling hollow, empty.

I can remember when people hated Brie Larsen in Captain Marvel, which might be similar, because the character was supposed to have lost their.memory, and appear 'blank' and audience fills the blankness with something, or criticism the performance when it may have been the writing.

A character written to have a presence of identity confusion seems a tough one to perform, anyway, and i think the Emperor is supposed o be out of it.

As for Biden, I think this was performed before the 'Biden is out of it' campaign started, so I doubt it
posted by eustatic at 12:31 PM on March 9

Just got out and I loved how much humanity gets put into this movie. I laughed more than I expected, and it really helped make the movie sing for me. The first 2/3rd or 3/4ths or whatever are so good, I mean I was in awe, and couldn't believe this was on screen. It falls down a bit in the end, I don't know how it couldn't without getting even more talky, but man just stunning. The visuals alone are worth the price of admission. Plus the way the screenplay doesn't just beat you over the head, it doesn't breathe as much as I'd like, but it's already at 2h40ish minutes so hard to extend even more.
posted by Carillon at 11:45 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed this film a lot, and I would be down for a director's cut that breathed a bit more, too.

I'll go ahead and defend Chalamet in this. I actually think the way he stands out - smarmy, too much hair, feeling like he dropped out of a French film festival, boyish - works so well for Paul Atreides. I buy that he's a good fighter, the son of a cult following mother, and aristocrat, and someone that might be mistaken for a messiah, all together.

I wasn't convinced in Part One but when he started making speeches in this one as well as usurping the Emperor, it wasn't jarring. It was like oh yeah, this guy.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:57 PM on March 10 [11 favorites]

I don't think Chalamet's performance/persona in this one is the problem, exactly (to the extent there is a problem), so much as directorial treatment of the character. The worst scene in the first movie was the one where Paul yells at Jessica about being made into a freak...power in this universe turns almost entirely on making yourself/having the genetic capacity to be a freak, and Paul's been raised in that line of thinking, so that felt sort of X-Menish and misguided for this world. In the second movie, there's such a discontinuity between Paul before and Paul after taking the Water of Life, it feels terribly abrupt. The "we'll be Harkonnens" line is so...facile. I'm glad we didn't have to see Paul and Chani lose their first child in the attack on Sietch Tabr, but I wonder if taking that out (and compressing the desert timeline by, what, 5:1?) didn't make it harder for him to sell it.
posted by praemunire at 1:30 PM on March 10

anyway, people of metafilter: i'm certain there's other war movies where the pov side does a nuclear first strike and the pov side isn't the united states in the 1940s but i sure can't think of any plz help

the 1950s War of the Worlds
Independence Day
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:06 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]

there's such a discontinuity between Paul before and Paul after taking the Water of Life

I think this is entirely deliberate. Jessica is also completely and irrevocably changed by the water of life, and flips from kinda-schemey-but-kindly-Mom to full-on Bene Gesserit matriarch happy to manipulate the shit out of the sand people and her son and his girlfriend to accomplish her goals.

Likewise, Paul flips from reluctant and loveable hero to destroyer-of-worlds. For book readers, it's probably a bit more clear that this is because of his insane prescience... But he'll gladly stab a baby to thread the "narrow path."

(I do think his foresight was a bit too understated in the movie - some kind of flash-vision of a thousand deaths, except in the one timeline where he lets feyd ratha stab him could have been cool.)
posted by kaibutsu at 1:09 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]

Overall I think this did a pretty decent of putting Dune on the screen. It filed off some of the weirdness, both in terms of stuff that would be hard to put on screen (a weird two-year old murderer freaking out the Fremen is hard to pull off) and made some more traditional narrative choices - in the book, Paul never actually meeting the Baron, Beast Rabban dying off stage, Halleck getting no revenge etc. Once you've decided you're not going to do the time jump, then I think a lot of the choices make sense.

The biggest change is obviously Chani. I think this probably works out well, especially for people new to the material. It feels a lot more straightforwardly 2024 to have a character close to Paul explicitly verbalise the issues with what he's doing, and making Chani this character (vs a partner who explicitly endorses his vision, at least at this stage, and becomes his concubine) I think works pretty well. I suspect there was a strong desire to avoid the Starship Troopers problem.

Some of the stuff that gets binned off (the Space Guild etc) I understand, even if I think it makes the whole thing seem a bit odd if you push at it - I'm not sure if you're new to it whether it's fully clear the importance of Arrakis and why the fate of the empire rests on it.

The one bit I understood but disliked: turning Stilgar from a formidable leader into, effectively, comic relief.

The one bit I thought they did poorly: I'm not convinced they handled the prophetic stuff well, and Paul's final acceptance of his role and what it means. I thought the first film oddly did a better job at portraying the consequences of his decisions. Instead it all seemed a bit low key and straightforward.
posted by Hartster at 3:01 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]

I loved it, and the thing that I loved most about it was how Villeneuve manipulates the sheer scale and scope of what happens in the movie, and addresses the central conceit of the space opera: that human beings can and should affect matters not only on a human scale, but on a planetary/interstellar/galactic/universal scale. Lots of times, though, that ends up with a couple of people having a duel with laser swords, or your moon-sized battle station having an Achilles heel that luckily you know about. Here, Paul grasps just how monstrous and implacable the forces that he's about to set into motion are, and what that will in turn do to him. It is literally awesome, but not just "awesome" in the sense of "really great" but also "pretty terrifying." It's not implausible that Walken's performance is meant to convey someone who was simply worn out by being emperor.

In terms of how it lines up with the book... honestly, I had a pretty tough time getting into the book as a teenager. (The next two books in the series were much easier to get through, but I stopped there.) I might revisit it, since seeing these movies; the LotR adaptations helped me get through those books, which I bounced off of completely.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:04 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

The next two books in the series were much easier to get through, but I stopped there


Anyway, saw it, and it was everything I hoped for. Kinda wonder how they’ll handle Chani if there’s a sequel, but I found her ending more satisfying than “history will call us wives.”

Vastly prefer how much darker Jessica’s character turned, and while I maybe wouldn’t have gone quite that hard with Paul, I buy it; it’s consistent with Jessica’s new arc, consistent with his fear of his future, and consistent with Chani’s new reaction to that future. Hats off to Villeneuve, he saw The Way and lead the fandom to Paradise.
posted by Ryvar at 7:47 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]

I loved the ink-splot fireworks. I saw this in a great theater and had ended up with seats that were very close up, so it was almost an Imax experience -- too loud, but I loved having my seat vibrate. (I would like to feel the movie but not hear quite as much of it, I guess.) I can't see this being good on a home TV set other than that I could've used more subtitles.

Stilgar was definitely seen as a comedic character by the audience I saw it with, and I don't see how he could be anything else -- he was on the verge of stopping Paul from eating some bad dates.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:59 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]

I saw this Friday night with my spouse and we both enjoyed it. They've never read the books but liked the first movie and were excited to see Part 2. I thought it was a pretty good test for how the movie would fare for people that haven't read all 6 books plus the encyclopedia but then the following day my spouse asked me some questions that made it pretty apparent that they were missing a lot of the details/whys for what was happening on-screen. But I guess that's good filmmaking too.

I'd heard somewhere that there was going to be a Part 3 and so kept thinking of when they were going to end the story in the movie if they weren't going to finish the book. As the runtime kept increasing and it was getting closer to the final battle I was worried they'd have a movie of just battle which thankfully didn't happen. I guess Part 3 will be based on Dune Messiah which I enjoyed enough but I'm really not expecting them to make movies up to God Emperor so it would have been better to just stop here.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:16 PM on March 18

Yeah, my understanding is that Part 3 == Dune Messiah.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:18 PM on March 18

The one bit I understood but disliked: turning Stilgar from a formidable leader into, effectively, comic relief.

I didn't get this at all. We lose Stilgar like people lose family to Trump. We see him struggle with it, we see him fight it. His last skepticism is his commentary on the location of the atomics, that's the last bit we get that there's still our cunning, honorable leader from movie 1 under there, somewhere

But Paul just repeatedly gives him everything he has always wanted.

At the end he is just gone, it hurts. Great writing and performance. I think people will get deeper into this if they sit with it.

this seems part of a deliberate choice to merge Fedaykin characters into newStilgar, and play newStilgar off newChani, in order to dramatize things the books kinda lose in details. We don't get a conflict between religious Fremen and Stilgar as in the books, that conflict is within one character.

Putting that conflict into one character got me good, anyway. The desire to be swept away by faith after years and years of facing death is great drama. That last cry is so automatic, it s good tragedy that the man we knew is gone
posted by eustatic at 9:24 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]

this seems part of a deliberate choice to merge Fedaykin characters into newStilgar, and play newStilgar off newChani, in order to dramatize things the books kinda lose in details

Bingo. It’s not just the Fedaykin getting roped in, it was also Harrah representing a sort of Fremen everywoman. The book’s careful depictions of all the various ways humans get weirdly irrational about religion were compressed into one character, the writers are going to leverage the hell out of that irrationality in order to inject some badly-needed levity… and they got just a little bit over-indulgent. That’s my read, anyway. So many things in both films left me thinking “my kingdom for another hour of runtime!” Stilgar’s one of the many tiny tragedies, here. Still an A+ film and adaptation, no question.
posted by Ryvar at 10:35 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]

Paul must have studied at the Edward Teach School of Knife Fighting and How to Get Stabbed Where There are No Important Organs.
posted by surlyben at 6:28 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]

Cross Post
posted by eustatic at 3:50 PM on March 22

It's been a long time since I read the book, and for that matter, it's been a bit since I saw Part 1, or David Lynch's movie (I never saw the miniseries). I feel as if DN tried to chop Dune down enough to make a viable movie out of what's left. A movie really maps to a short story, maybe a novella, but Dune is kind of a doorstop of a book. So I feel like he extracted some interesting bits, but perhaps chopped away too much. His version of Dune never discusses why Spice is so important, which…is important to the story. Never explains why people with frickin' laser beams are fighting with swords. When DL's Dune came out, a common opinion was that you had to have read the book to enjoy the movie. I think that's doubly so for DN's Dune.

It was very interesting visually. Alejandro Jodorowsky would have approved, I think. Gedi Prime, shot in black & white, seemed like a clear reference to Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will, all that.
posted by adamrice at 5:11 PM on March 23

I saw it this weekend, and liked it a great deal. I loved the first three books as well. I don't have much to add to what's been discussed, but the scene at the start of the final battle, with the Sardukar watching the storm approach, and then three worms appear...took my breath away.
posted by Gorgik at 7:15 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

I feel like if you're only seeing Christopher Walken in his performance as the Emperor, then that's on you.

I dunno. We didn't see him deciding to do the dirty deed (beefing the Harkonnen attack), so all we got was Wistful Old Man, and a too-brief flash of rage at the end on Arrakis when his guard sends the Baron to his knees, and he screams about evidence of human activity! in the south hemisphere. He's just not on the screen that much, and he doesn't do that much when he is.
posted by Rat Spatula at 5:34 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]

adamrice: "It was very interesting visually. Alejandro Jodorowsky would have approved, I think."

Jodorowsky's still alive, fwiw.
posted by signal at 7:36 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]

Just a heads up: that link eutastic posted upthread is *not* a cross post of this thread despite being labeled as such, it's an external link to some blog. It's not cool to mislead people with your link titles, folks.
posted by MiraK at 8:50 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]

It was cross posted to the front page? lo siento.
posted by eustatic at 6:24 PM on March 28 [5 favorites]

What a feast for the eyes with good design and good acting. Agree about the Harkonen evil fireworks being super cool. Much more plot than I expected for a Part II movie. I loved it.
I thought Walken was fine but why bother. The Anya Taylor-Joy casting took me right out of the story, it would have been much better to have an unknown at least for my own audience experience.
From socmed after seeing the film: How do they dismount from a worm? I didn't think of it during but now can't stop laughing about this.
posted by Lookinguppy at 9:07 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]

@eustatic, ah, thank you! I didn't realize it was a FPP.
posted by MiraK at 9:23 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]

For me, this is yet another Dune as a movie failure. I appreciated the attempt, but it felt so hollow and vacuous (perhaps that's point). Quick characters in a slow film. Felt Lynch's film and the miniseries glossed over how manipulative the Great Houses, including the Atreides and of course the Bene Gesserit manipulating everyone, particularly fundamentalists or fanatics. This film made it explicit but still, I'm not sure if it did it well.

Missed the larger world of Dune. Mentats are reduced. The Bene Tleilax only mentioned. I think there was a reference to Ix.

I realize, of course, that this is just two films without the time to tell the complete story but felt the choices made for this were bland and far too reductive.

I still believe an extensive multi-episode anime of Dune would work.
posted by juiceCake at 5:24 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]

Fwiw, I believe the Tleilaxi aren't actually mentioned in the text until book two.

A bit more on mentats and the butlerian jihad and the spacing gold would have been nice, but I can also understand leaving it out, as it is really lore and set dressing, outside of the main run of the story... Maybe they'll get a bigger role in part three, which should involve a bit more time off arrakis.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:00 PM on April 8

The Tleilax are briefly mentioned, but it's in relation to Mentats. A seed, as it were. But Piter, the twisted Mentat (by the Tleilax) is a shell of what he was in the first Dune book in the first film.

I understand why many of things were left out but unfortunately, it leaves that hollowed out version of Dune feeling for me which is why I regard it as a failure (not in terms of acting, directing, cinematography etc.) as a great Dune film. It came across as an incredibly vague, disjointed mess of a story. Just my take. I definitely don't feel those who loved it have any less valid of a reaction but for me, another disappointment.

That said, it's not particularly important. The books stand.
posted by juiceCake at 4:20 PM on April 9

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