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A Film Student’s *Spoiler-Free* Review of Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part One”

*Mild spoilers/spoiler-free, depending on what you consider a spoiler… I mostly critique the original.

I’m very much biased because, a) as the resident film student around here, I had to watch Villeneuve’s version for FIL 4162c, so all of my thoughts seem to come from what I’ve learned studying professional screenwriting, and b) I have not, nor can I predict when I will ever have time to read the IP, in this case, Frank Herbert’s novel(s).

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Zendaya as Chani in Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” (2021)

To pregame for the premiere of Villeneuve’s Dune, I decided it was finally time to watch Lynch’s Dune for the first time, and I’m GLAD I did. It’s hard to compare this new film to David Lynch’s original 1984 film, as they’re clearly two entirely different movies visually, but at the same time, I feel like it’s hard NOT to. I think what takes me out of Dune (1984) is how all of the characters voice-over their thoughts throughout the film as a mode of exposition. It was really frustrating for me to watch and it kind of reminds me of the characters in The Office talking directly to the camera — which has a totally different vibe than the one Dune is trying to convey. The rule when it comes to modern screenwriting is SHOW through the actions, don’t TELL through the dialogue; the movie even opens with a three-minute segment of the Princess talking about the history of the planets and whatnot! They lost me in the very first scene and I think that’s why, for me, Dune (1984) is so slow-paced, despite feeling like two movies crammed into one. That being said, moviemaking had different rules back then and the breadth of the lore of Dune is so intricate, they have called it “unfilmable” in the past. Taking on a project like adapting Dune to the big or small screen is something to be praised in itself. I will admit, it was almost necessary for so much exposition to be done through the dialogue.

I think because people are more familiar with the IP through Dune (1984), Dune (2021) felt a lot less lore-heavy than its ‘80s counterpart, however, the story is still there, so you don’t NEED to see Lynch’s version to appreciate Villeneuve’s version. I knew this new version was gonna be great solely because of how advanced our technology has become since 1984; if the story wasn’t there, at least the worms would LOOK cool! But most, if not all of the events of the ‘80s film are there; it definitely stays true to the IP and feels like a Dune adaptation — albeit with a 2020s sci-fi/fantasy look and feel. I don’t know if it’s just because Star Wars is Hollywood’s gold-standard for what a modern sci-fi movie should be, or if it’s because Oscar Isaac was in it, but it definitely gave me a Star Wars vibe (the 2010s sequels, specifically) more so than Lynch’s film did. It just goes to show you how much the science-fiction genre has evolved over the past few decades, and you can tell a cohesive story through action, as opposed to relying heavily on your dialogue.

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“Wormsign”

I also appreciate how Villeneuve decided to split it into two parts. An epic like Dune deserves more than just 2 hours. I haven’t seen anything else Timothée Chalamet has been in, but I thought he was a convincing Paul Atreides, in fact, the entire lineup of Marvel/Star Wars/DC veterans was perfect! I hope to see more Zendaya in Part Two! I love that they focused a lot more on the natives of Arrakis and all of the costumes were INCREDIBLE as well! My only negative is how the worms looked like leviathan nostrils, but that can almost be overlooked. My mom is a huge fan of Dune (1984), and she really enjoyed the new one, so that’s all that matters to me. We’re excited to see Part Two when it comes out!

Emily Ryan is a student in the BFA Film program at the University of Central Florida and a writer for the UCF chapter of Her Campus Magazine. A proud Pacific Islander, originally from the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World: Plant City, Florida. She has ample entertainment experience under her belt, from hosting her own radio show, "Emily's Playhouse" on HawkRadio, to performing for two years as Trixie the Usherette, Columbia, and Eddie in a live shadowcast production of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and countless video productions, including an award winning faux horror movie trailer for the Fall 2016 "813 Film Challenge" entitled, "The Other Side" and an award winning music video for the Winter 2017 "813 Film Challenge" to Andra Day's 2015 song, "Rise Up". When she's not writing or going to school, you can catch Emily as a skipper on the World-Famous Jungle Cruise Expedition in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World! She also loves spending her free time watching shows and movies on various streaming services, making playlists on Spotify and Apple Music (Aerosmith fans rise!), getting tattoos, singing, playing her keyboard, amateur photography, engaging in a session of Dungeons & Dragons with her neighbors, cuddling her partner, Tex, and of course, going to Disney World! Follow her on social media! TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/vs3K5s/ Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/profile/DankNFurter Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/124204150?si=cb1ea93978b1453d YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGkO4fWdKEV53LXFQP1wEXA?
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