The latest sci-fi epic is finally here. After a year-long delay due to the pandemic, the 2021 adaptation of “Dune” hit theaters and HBO Max on October 22. The movie is based on the novel of the same name written by Frank Herbert released in 1965. In case the title of this article was not clear, “Dune” is fantastic and deserves to be seen on the biggest and loudest screen possible.
One of the biggest quotes hanging over “Dune” is that it is the next “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings." Although the comparisons to “Star Wars” and Lord of the Rings” are valid in some respects, if you go into “Dune” expecting massive battles and action to the scale of the two, you may be disappointed. A more apt pop culture comparison could be that Dune is like galactic “Game of Thrones.” The focus is much more on politics and the relationships between characters and factions than fights or battles.
When the title card drops, you can see the words, “Part One” in smaller text below the main title. The original 1965 Dune novel is over 500 pages, and this 2021 adaptation covers roughly two-thirds of that book. The ending practically winks at the audience, saying, “See you next time.”
The story that is started, though, is incredibly compelling, and it is pushed even further by incredible visuals and otherworldly sound design. Director Denis Villeneuve (pronounced Duh-nee Vil-eh-nuv) is no stranger to sci-fi, with two of his most recent directorial works being “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049.” His unique visual style is as present as ever here. Seeing massive freighters explode may be exciting on its own, but Villeneuve elevates the visuals even further. Most shots in the film involve one of our characters watching this massive plot unfold, giving us an awe-inspiring sense of scale. Combining this with all the otherworldly sounds and music crafted by Hans Zimmer, you get an utterly unique audio-visual experience that your phone, computer, or TV screen can’t do justice.
If you have not read the book yet, I would encourage you to gain some background knowledge because I promise it will help you to enjoy the movie even more. A few things you should know involve the technology present in the universe of “Dune.” (Editor’s note: Why care? Because it’s cool!)
Laser guns and other projectile weapons do exist, and you do see them used from time to time, but you also get introduced early on to the personal shields that people can wear. A shield getting hit with a laser weapon would cause a nuclear reaction, so lasers (or “lasguns” in the books) are very scarce. Because of this, short swords and knives are the main weapons used in combat.
You may also notice a lack of computers, robots, and other forms of artificial intelligence that are present in other futuristic sci-fi stories. People realized that the reliance on computers and artificial intelligence would lead to their downfall, so an agreement was made to never make a computer capable of human thought. The closest widely accepted alternative to artificial intelligence is the Mentat. These are people that undergo training to think like computers. You will meet two Mentats in the film, and their telltale sign is that whenever they need to think, their eyes roll up into their heads.
I hope you are as excited to see “Dune” as I was, and I’ll see you all again in 2023 for Part Two.