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Dune (2021)

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by ahalpert View Post
    It feels like there are 2 overlapping questions under consideration: is this a THEATRICAL film vs a made-for-streaming movie,
    No one is asking that. Something I said got taken out of context.

    I am asking, was "Dune pt1" an objectively good feature film by itself?

    You are doing everything but answering that question, so I won't push you any further. I am only asking it to discuss feature film making, as I don't really need to convince you about how to feel about Dune. But if we can't discuss feature film making, and just going by what we like or feel, then there is no discussion. There are things to like about Dune, I don't want to take that away if we aren't engaging in something constructive.


    EDIT:
    Now seeing your comment:
    Originally posted by ahalpert View Post
    that's probably it. a lot of potent visual memories. looking at that list, it seems like I didn't like the very beginning or the vey end as much as all the business in the middle
    This is interesting. In particular in regards to feature films. Thank you. Cheers
    Last edited by James0b57; 11-16-2021, 04:34 AM.

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  • ahalpert
    replied
    I see you added that the siege of the city didn't have nearly the same stakes. It actually activated a very primal/infantile fear in me of the family being threatened and my father/protector being unable to defend. And me (Paul) being kidnapped asleep. Although I simultaneously related to Leto as a father and the horrific knowledge of my family being threatened and the especially horrifying prospect of being paralyzed while witnessing that. So, I think that actually the personal/familiar terms of the assault raised the stakes for me more than the city-siege/imperial invasion aspect.

    But the cinematography was so glorious... all the scenes lit by fire. And I didn't feel like they wasted any time in showing us how the attack unfolded. I'll accept no argument that the epic battle scene was less exciting than the endless clashes of polygons in LOTR

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  • ahalpert
    replied
    Originally posted by James0b57 View Post
    there were a few moments. Nothing overtly offensive.

    Watching the scene where Jason Mamoa's character is introduced after just exiting a flying machine. He starts to busy himself with panels on the flight craft. What is he doing? They cut away to a silhouette two shot of the men talking. Why? Because it looked cool? I suppose. That kind of visual story telling tells the viewer over term that shots may or may not have meaning, and after 90minutes of run time, you may subconsciously lose the viewer's trust, or at least the efficacy of each shot. And how many cuts for that simple dialogue scene did they need? And to top it all off they threw in some MCU humour and delivery. Was it funny? Yes. Was it American as heck? Heck, yes it was. It was a universally funny line, I just wish they were able to handle it in a way that didn't feel like a character break into a present day buddy comedy out of California.

    Most of them might be similarly innocuous. But have enough of them, and it starts to make me feel the film makers either changed the film in the edit, or they shot the heck out of it and figured it out in the edit? We'll never really know.

    I did quite like the rescue scene of the spice harvesters. It had enough action and character development, and the scale of the scenes were captured well. Sometimes it can be difficult to capture scale on screen. The pacing leading up to it and the sound design, it was all solid, if not gratuitously well done. The siege of the city didn't anywhere near the same stakes. Nothing else quite landed as well after that. Given enough time, it could come back around, perhaps in the fourth hour? Is it still a feature film if it lulls after the 30minute mark, with only the promise that in the 4th hour we'll get that next hook in the narrative? Or is that a longer form narrative than the feature?
    I liked the wide shot of the ships and Momoa. Just world-building for me, I guess. I liked the shot of Momoa's reaction to Paul's prediction of his death. The "muscle" line seemed a bit silly, and as an attempt to establish their relationship in very little time, I thought it was so-so. Not my favorite scene in the movie. Some of that, I think, comes down to acting on the part of both players involved. We've all seen amazing actors breathe life into mediocre lines. But ultimately the director is responsible both for the dialogue and the performances.

    There were so many things I liked about the movie beyond the spice harvester rescue scene:

    - I liked the treatment of the Zendaya, etc "visions"
    - the scene where he must withstand pain, the look of the room, the costuming and acting of the old witch, the manner and acting of his mother reciting the litany against fear outside the door, the montage of his sort of hand burning off, the way he went cross-eyed towards the end and Chalamet's acting generally in that scene. it's also interesting that the take on the Bene Gesserit is so much more cynical in the movie than in the book. my wife started reading the book and the tone of that scene is very different
    - lots of little details like the computer guy rolling his eyes up into his head while computing the cost of the messenger's journey to reach them
    - the cylindrical spaceships and the way the smaller vessels flew out of them like insects; the composition of the cylindrical forms adjacent to the planets and the silence of those frames

    Let me accelerate to just favorite scenes:

    - pain box scene
    - scene with imperial messenger
    - all the Baron Harkonnen scenes
    - spice harvester scene
    - assassinations before invasion
    - invasion of city
    - death scene of Leto
    - attack on the botanical installation
    - death scene of Kynes
    - ornithopter in the sandstorm
    - sandworm laughing at them (or whatever it was doing)

    that's probably it. a lot of potent visual memories. looking at that list, it seems like I didn't like the very beginning or the vey end as much as all the business in the middle

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  • ahalpert
    replied
    Originally posted by markfpv View Post
    Have not read the book - but a bit too much "Jedi" stuff with the Mother / son... that kind of stuff always seems too contrived and is used too much as a plot device. Same as the "chosen one" references throughout. Didn't need the reminder every 10 minutes or so. Was I the only one that saw several Apocalypse Now acting / staging devices?
    I think you might have that backwards and there's probably a bit too much "Dune" stuff in Star Wars, seeing as Dune was written in 1965 and A New Hope premiered in 1977

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  • ahalpert
    replied
    Originally posted by James0b57 View Post
    Don't be so quick to dismiss that. Imagine everyone on the U.S.S Enterpreeeze, hanging out with Vule-kanes and Klin-goans.
    Yes, I was trivializing his complaint. I suppose the truth is simply that *I didn't care. I can see how someone else might, although Dune is written whereas we hear the pronunciation of "Enterprise" all the time in the shows and films, so it's very well-established.

    Sort of, but a necessary one. I'm not attacking a word you used to hurt your opinion, I am defining my question for clarity. There is a difference. You can't throw away every semantic encounter in a conversation. We're on a forum, semantics are all we have.

    I know a lot of directors and would be directors that claim to be feature film directors. I know people that have done a few short films and are completely overwhelmed by features. And I know feature film makers that are intrigued by longer form series, but ultimately feel that the feature length is the ultimate test of a film maker. Why is that? What is a feature?

    So, when trying to discuss a feature film, it is good to have some idea about what makes a film a feature. To me, the most fundamental aspect is how the narrative and emotional journey feels in the time frame of around 100minutes, give or take. Start getting up into the 3hrs, and I am calling it quits. Less than 75, and that feels a little light, like I left the house and spent $25 on soda for this? Films like 'My Dinner with Andre' are well thought of, and I don't think they need to be seen in a theater, but it is certainly a good feature film. Movies like transformers are best seen in a theater, but could be a bad feature film. What is the link? So, when you tell me that Dune Part 1 has great cinematography and great sound and must be seen in a theater, I don't necessarily take that to mean it is a good feature film.

    What I am asking is not something I would go on about on a rotten tomatoes review, but here, we are supposedly film makers, so I would think we would want to discuss the finer details of a feature film.
    Did I dismiss your argument? I didn't mean to. It feels like there are 2 overlapping questions under consideration: is this a THEATRICAL film vs a made-for-streaming movie, and is this a FEATURE film or actually part 1 of a miniseries.

    On some level, I think that my enjoyment of it is more important, but that doesn't answer those questions.

    Villeneuve certainly wanted this to be seen on the big screen, so he intended it to be theatrical. Certainly, I think that the scale of the imagery and details bears that out. I think you'll get a richer experience with the full audiovisual theatrical treament than watching it at home, which means that the full weight can't be imparted by a mere symbolic understanding of what the images represent and a sufficiently craftful illusion to make you suspend disbelief.

    Is it part 1 of a miniseries? I'll come back to A New Hope and The Dark Knight. Both ended with unfinished business, both are part of a trilogy (or supposedly an even longer series in the case of A New Hope). A New Hope conclusively ends the local plotline: the death star is destroyed, snuffing out that most destructive threat at hand. But the archvillain got away and tyranny still reigns. That wouldn't be a very satisfying place to end the story at all. I feel like the only difference between that and Dune is that A New Hope had a tremendous catharsis shortly before the end by way of the protracted assault on the death star and its destruction. In my memory, that emotional climax happens shortly before the very end. There wasn't a single event of such magnitude in Dune. And higher climaxes were reached before Paul kills a man in hand-to-hand combat and secures their place among the Fremen. I suppose this accounts for why I felt the ending was emotionally deflated from, say, the destruction of the city and the escape of Paul and mom from their captors, then from the imperial soldiers, then from the sandstorm.

    The Dark Knight: same as A New Hope, the local threat is destroyed by the end (Two-Face). But there's a pretty interesting plotline in progress as it concludes (Batman running from the police or whomever) that we never see fleshed out. The Joker was left alive, and I had heard rumors that he would resurface in the final film (before Ledger died, altering those plans).

    Or maybe LOTR - obviously, the ring isn't destroyed by the end of the first film.

    Maybe we should ask - what defines a miniseries?

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by ahalpert View Post
    What would you say was the worst example of that?
    there were a few moments. Nothing overtly offensive.

    Watching the scene where Jason Mamoa's character is introduced after just exiting a flying machine. He starts to busy himself with panels on the flight craft. What is he doing? They cut away to a silhouette two shot of the men talking. Why? Because it looked cool? I suppose. That kind of visual story telling tells the viewer over term that shots may or may not have meaning, and after 90minutes of run time, you may subconsciously lose the viewer's trust, or at least the efficacy of each shot. And how many cuts for that simple dialogue scene did they need? And to top it all off they threw in some MCU humour and delivery. Was it funny? Yes. Was it American as heck? Heck, yes it was. It was a universally funny line, I just wish they were able to handle it in a way that didn't feel like a character break into a present day buddy comedy out of California.

    Most of them might be similarly innocuous. But have enough of them, and it starts to make me feel the film makers either changed the film in the edit, or they shot the heck out of it and figured it out in the edit? We'll never really know.

    I did quite like the rescue scene of the spice harvesters. It had enough action and character development, and the scale of the scenes were captured well. Sometimes it can be difficult to capture scale on screen. The pacing leading up to it and the sound design, it was all solid, if not gratuitously well done. The siege of the city didn't anywhere near the same stakes. Nothing else quite landed as well after that. Given enough time, it could come back around, perhaps in the fourth hour? Is it still a feature film if it lulls after the 30minute mark, with only the promise that in the 4th hour we'll get that next hook in the narrative? Or is that a longer form narrative than the feature?

    Last edited by James0b57; 11-16-2021, 02:57 AM.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by ahalpert View Post
    Did you also notice how Anonymous Guard #3 was left-handed in the novel while in the movie he was CLEARLY RIGHT-HANDED?!
    Don't be so quick to dismiss that. Imagine everyone on the U.S.S Enterpreeeze, hanging out with Vule-kanes and Klin-goans.




    Originally posted by ahalpert View Post
    but this is sort of a semantics argument.
    Sort of, but a necessary one. I'm not attacking a word you used to hurt your opinion, I am defining my question for clarity. There is a difference. You can't throw away every semantic encounter in a conversation. We're on a forum, semantics are all we have.

    I know a lot of directors and would be directors that claim to be feature film directors. I know people that have done a few short films and are completely overwhelmed by features. And I know feature film makers that are intrigued by longer form series, but ultimately feel that the feature length is the ultimate test of a film maker. Why is that? What is a feature?

    So, when trying to discuss a feature film, it is good to have some idea about what makes a film a feature. To me, the most fundamental aspect is how the narrative and emotional journey feels in the time frame of around 100minutes, give or take. Start getting up into the 3hrs, and I am calling it quits. Less than 75, and that feels a little light, like I left the house and spent $25 on soda for this? Films like 'My Dinner with Andre' are well thought of, and I don't think they need to be seen in a theater, but it is certainly a good feature film. Movies like transformers are best seen in a theater, but could be a bad feature film. What is the link? So, when you tell me that Dune Part 1 has great cinematography and great sound and must be seen in a theater, I don't necessarily take that to mean it is a good feature film.

    What I am asking is not something I would go on about on a rotten tomatoes review, but here, we are supposedly film makers, so I would think we would want to discuss the finer details of a feature film.

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  • ahalpert
    replied
    Originally posted by James0b57 View Post
    The original Star Wars managed to be individual films to a degree.
    True, but I mean--A New Hope also ended with an awards ceremony. That sort of capped it all off and felt like a finale, but can we call it narrative genius? And can anyone say that the arc of Star Wars was complete in any meaningful way at the end of that movie? Vader went spiraling off into space, for example. We had never met the emperor. But yes, I agree that the end of Dune made me want to click "Next," but not in a bad way. Just in a I was left excited way. Kind of like how I wish that The Dark Knight Rises had picked up right where The Dark Knight ended.

    The film Dune 2021 was overall a good watch. and given the format they are making it, doesn’t really matter much if it was a cliff hanger or not, if it lives on line. I’m just saying, if trying to judge something as a feature…. have to figure it out if it is even truly a feature first.
    I guess so, but this is sort of a semantics argument. I mean, the Star Wars films are literally titled "Episode...". What makes Dune a feature for me is perhaps the length of the "episodes" as well as the quality and craftsmanship. Part of that is reflected in the budget. (The final season of Game of Thrones had a per-episode budget of about $15 million, so let's call it $45 million for an equivalent amount of screen time to Dune. Dune had a budget of $165 million, though I'm not sure if that includes advertising.)

    I mean...look at the cinematography, man! This didn't feel like TV to me at all, which is why I want to see it again on the big screen. I loved that shot of the shadows of the structure they were hiding in, and then you see the shadow of the head of the enemy soldier poke out and disrupt the geometric form. Camera tilts up, and you see the soldiers peering over the edge and then floating soundlessly down to the ground. So much good shooting in this film... And the pacing.... I mean, whatever, there's a lot of good TV these days. I dunno.... I want to see this in the theater. That genuine desire seems indicative of the type of experience it delivered. If Breaking Bad were playing in a theater, would you go?

    - actors seemed to be on different pages in regards to performance. Josh Brolin was mostly in a much more forced old world language and speech, but all of a sudden might slip into full Brolin. Oscar was a bit too Oscar, and then suddenly try to be kingly and have that older world sounding language. musk, felt like all of the actors got their own notes and ran with it in their own ways.
    Yeah, probably, but it wasn't bad enough to ruin it for me


    - technology. i’ll just mention the dragonfly chopper things. What the holy vibration reduction those cockpits had. also, how can those wings withstand that kind of force to operate, but the break so easily after the sand storm. idk, not saying whether it could really be a thing, but just saying it gave me pause, and took me out of the film. For the books to focus on the politics and get around some of the high tech stuff, Dune2021 certainly had enough tech to make people loose that suspension of disbelief that it was unfortunate.
    I thought the ornithopters were awesome. Luckily my brain didn't engage enough to question the underlying physics. Chalk that win up to stupidity or fatigue.

    Maybe the sand eroded elements of the wing assembly like a power washer. I was more focused on Paul's decision to turn of his engine and ride out the storm, which was beautiful both poetically and as a plot device.

    Everybody has a different threshold for impossible science in movies, or it gets turned on and off in different circumstances. Hard to argue with one's reaction. I was watching a Trek TOS episode recently ("Tomorrow is Yesterday") where they do a slingshot around the sun to go back in time. Let's go along with that method of time travel for a moment... And also pretend that if you're traveling many times the speed of light that you're not going to just shoot past a star no matter how close you pass by it. (Probably it would just bend your trajectory? Maybe you'd shoot around a black hole...) But what really bothered me was that they started their acceleration towards the sun FROM EARTH. And then proceeded to count up their increasing Warp speed for like a full minute on their way from Earth to the sun. It would be like a minute-long scene of someone accelerating up their driveway saying, "60MPH... 70MPH... 80MPH..." How long would it take to drive down even a long driveway at 80MPH? Ultimately, that inconsistency was what un-suspended my disbelief.

    - Sandworms. i feel these creature are part of the difficulty in adapting to the movies. How does one visually make these things make sense and describe them without horrid exposition?
    It worked for me. Except...how do they sustain such mass and energy expenditures on a planet with so little to eat?

    - The pronounciation of “Harkonnen”. I watched with someone that claims they pronounced that word incorrectly. ymmv.
    Did you also notice how Anonymous Guard #3 was left-handed in the novel while in the movie he was CLEARLY RIGHT-HANDED?!


    - i’ve already mentioned some of the staging/blocking and camera movement feeling unmotivated. but for a film that feels made for the streamer platform, i tend to be less bothered by that…. but it is Dune! so it kind of bothers me more than with movies such as Res Notice. Also, given how much i respect ‘Prisoners’, i’m sad to see Villenueve be subject to that.
    What would you say was the worst example of that?

    Ultimately, I'd say that the story, characters, and place came alive for me in my watching of the movie. There's a complex formula that goes into that as a movie and for a viewer, some of which is probably up to the chance circumstances of how and when you saw it. I'd say this movie had a lot more to offer me than BR2049. It was more like Arrival but with a much more complex story to tell and a much bigger budget.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by markfpv View Post
    Watched it via HBO at home. Visually - it's lovely - assume the sets must have been ginormous!
    Have not read the book - but a bit too much "Jedi" stuff with the Mother / son... that kind of stuff always seems too contrived and is used too much as a plot device. Same as the "chosen one" references throughout. Didn't need the reminder every 10 minutes or so.
    Villenueve doesn’t seem to be shy with trope and archetypes.

    Was I the only one that saw several Apocalypse Now acting / staging devices?
    What is that? I am not familiar with the device, but know the film.

    (edit: oh, i do recall the baron doing a few Brando l-esque things)
    Last edited by James0b57; 11-15-2021, 02:15 AM.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by ahalpert View Post

    Villeneuve was super pissed when they decided to release it simultaneously on streamers so I think we can definitively say that it was not a made for streaming movie
    Agreed, that was in reference to a comment that was poorly worded by me. It was meant to mean when a film is made for streaming platform, I am less critical, but when it is a screen adaptation of a well liked book, I think it should have a little more than aesthetics and coverage.

    We are here discussing a film, how can we be objective about it, if we aren’t discussing how to categorize it? As movie theaters no longer dictate what kind of movies get made, and streaming allows for a variety of longer form story telling, we are beginning to need to have a more clear definition of a "feature" film.

    As a pilot episode, i thought Dune 2021 was good. As a stand alone feature? meh.

    Last edited by James0b57; 11-15-2021, 10:02 AM.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by aram View Post
    I guess opinions and all that, but also, I wonder what about the film made you feel it was made for a streamer?
    It was worded oddly, and that is my fault, but I also feel that in other parts of my post I did touch on that concept of Dune having looser narrative with more unfinished threads, making it play more like a first show in a series.


    The part you quoted e was meant as: If a show is made for streaming, I am less critical of small flaws, but this movie was "DUNE"! It should offer more.




    I am not claiming it was made as a streamer.

    But any film that feels like the ending of one episode rather than the end of a part, then it is more a long form or series, as opposed to a traditional feature. those are different formats.

    A short is a format. A feature is a format. And a series is a format. Only since streaming have series truly become a front and center format. If a big budget film is made with a story structure that feels more like a first episode, then I'm likely going to think "wow the producers really wanted to cash in for sequel money.


    Perhaps Villenueve was excited to try longer form to have more time for character development. Or maybe he is not good at longer format. time will tell. But as a stand alone film, it was nothing more than a mildly entertaining setup for whatever the next film might be about. it didn’t have a real self contained feature film feel. i don’t even think LOTR was as bad as this.


    But all that said, i like a good series, just as much as the next person. i’m just trying to categorize the film. as a stand alone feature film is sucked. as a first part in a series it was good.


    EVERYONE wants to say how important the STORY is, or how they don't want to make shorts because they are more a "feature film" filmmaker, but when we get to actually talking about feature film structure and narrative, all of a sudden feature means: 90-240minutes, plays in theaters, big budget, pretty pictures, good sound, I liked it.






    (EDIT - I re-read the part you quoted from me realizing what part you actually quoted from me and realized the way it may have looked on page, vs what I meant. Decided to correct this in my reply)
    Last edited by James0b57; 11-15-2021, 10:23 AM.

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  • ahalpert
    replied
    Originally posted by aram View Post

    I disagree in extreme with this statement. The images were all to be seen on a big screen. Some of them would limit the size of the figures to a few millimeters on a smaller screen. The sound was also something that seemed thought for a cinema experience and would make for a much poorer experience with a home set up.

    I guess opinions and all that, but also, I wonder what about the film made you feel it was made for a streamer?
    Villeneuve was super pissed when they decided to release it simultaneously on streamers so I think we can definitively say that it was not a made for streaming movie

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  • markfpv
    replied
    Watched it via HBO at home. Visually - it's lovely - assume the sets must have been ginormous!
    Have not read the book - but a bit too much "Jedi" stuff with the Mother / son... that kind of stuff always seems too contrived and is used too much as a plot device. Same as the "chosen one" references throughout. Didn't need the reminder every 10 minutes or so. Was I the only one that saw several Apocalypse Now acting / staging devices?

    Leave a comment:


  • aram
    replied
    Originally posted by James0b57 View Post
    [...] but for a film that feels made for the streamer platform,[...]
    I disagree in extreme with this statement. The images were all to be seen on a big screen. Some of them would limit the size of the figures to a few millimeters on a smaller screen. The sound was also something that seemed thought for a cinema experience and would make for a much poorer experience with a home set up.

    I guess opinions and all that, but also, I wonder what about the film made you feel it was made for a streamer?

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Thanks Abe, for the thoughtful reply and details.


    Movies in the “streaming” age have a certain type of blandness that feels a bit like AI logic. like by being a certain amount of blah, and a certain level of bad, they become more watched. like those posts on instagram with the bad spelling to get people to make commments . idk, like the films being made now are to win the algorithm. Dune 2021 has a certain level of that feel to me.


    Overall, watching it online, it was one of those perfect “let’s watch this” sort of things, and it ended up being better than a lot of the other streaming content, but was also a little middling feeling. and any media pretending to be a feature film, but isn’t complete without the pre planned sequels, to me are not to be judged with stand alone features, because if it was a feature it would be around 90 minutes, but because of it’s integrations and reliance on the sequels to resemble anything complete, then it is a series. i’m not saying that as a slight, just trying to categorize it. The original Star Wars managed to be individual films to a degree.

    The film Dune 2021 was overall a good watch. and given the format they are making it, doesn’t really matter much if it was a cliff hanger or not, if it lives on line. I’m just saying, if trying to judge something as a feature…. have to figure it out if it is even truly a feature first.

    Somethings took me out of the film in ways that prevented me from just going with it.

    - actors seemed to be on different pages in regards to performance. Josh Brolin was mostly in a much more forced old world language and speech, but all of a sudden might slip into full Brolin. Oscar was a bit too Oscar, and then suddenly try to be kingly and have that older world sounding language. musk, felt like all of the actors got their own notes and ran with it in their own ways.

    - technology. i’ll just mention the dragonfly chopper things. What the holy vibration reduction those cockpits had. also, how can those wings withstand that kind of force to operate, but the break so easily after the sand storm. idk, not saying whether it could really be a thing, but just saying it gave me pause, and took me out of the film. For the books to focus on the politics and get around some of the high tech stuff, Dune2021 certainly had enough tech to make people loose that suspension of disbelief that it was unfortunate.

    - Sandworms. i feel these creature are part of the difficulty in adapting to the movies. How does one visually make these things make sense and describe them without horrid exposition?

    - The pronounciation of “Harkonnen”. I watched with someone that claims they pronounced that word incorrectly. ymmv.

    - i’ve already mentioned some of the staging/blocking and camera movement feeling unmotivated. but for a film that feels made for the streamer platform, i tend to be less bothered by that…. but it is Dune! so it kind of bothers me more than with movies such as Res Notice. Also, given how much i respect ‘Prisoners’, i’m sad to see Villenueve be subject to that.




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