After overwhelmingly positive reviews following a Cannes film festival screening, and recent comments by Dune director Denis Villeneuve, the probability that Dune (Part 2) will be made has increased dramatically. Rotten Tomatoes, the popular movie review aggregator, has given the initial critical response to the first Dune movie a healthy 85%. Although a follow up is not a certainty, it will at least give Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures a good reason to green light a second movie (perhaps they’ll announce this just before the first movie is officially launched to add to the hype?). You can watch the Dune trailers here.
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What the reviewers liked about Villeneuve’s Dune
Most praised Villeneuve ‘s directing style and his ability to make the material accessible, distilling important narrative elements into something digestible even to those completely unfamiliar with Herbert’s source material. Hans Zimmer’s score was singled out by many as was the charismatic presence of Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho) and Rebecca Ferguson as Paul Atreides’ mother, the Bene Gesserit sister named Lady Jessica. Timothée Chalamet’s acting, in the lead role of the Duke’s son, Paul Atreides, is described as “magnificent” and “dazzling”. The impressive production values were also frequently mentioned. As the trailers seem to suggest, this is a polished, visually breathtaking recreation of Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, by a film maker at the top of his game.
What the reviewers didn’t like about Villeneuve’s Dune
Not all were in love with the movie, however, some felt cheated that it was not a completely finished creation (as this adaptation only covers the first half of the first book). The film begins with the words Dune: Part 1, so it’s definitely not meant to be seen as a self contained work. Equally, some criticised Dune as being cold and clinical, lacking in the warmth and humour present in the original books. Others suggested the star-studded cast were not given enough to do (a common complaint in movies where every role features an actor of note).
So what does Denis Villeneuve think about the possibility of a Dune Part 2?
From the very start, Villeneuve always believed that Frank Herbert’s iconic science fiction novel needed at least two films to cover its intricate, politically and socially layered story. He explicitly told Warner Bros. he would not undertake the project unless there was at least the possibility of a sequel – if the first was successful. Given this initial critical reaction after Cannes, it is more likely than not that we’ll see a Dune Part 2. Let’s just hope most movie goers are equally ecstatic when Dune finally arrives in cinemas.
When asked by Jake Hamilton (Jake’s Takes) if he could promise we would receive a Dune Part 2, Villeneuve replied:
I’d love to, but it’s not in my power to green light a movie, unfortunately. But I will say this: I would say that the good news is that Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures love Dune part one. And I know that they’re proud of it. They expressed that several times. Hopefully, the movie will be welcome enough so that it will generate enough enthusiasm that I will have the chance to follow the characters in a second half.Dune Director Denis Villeneuve
Dune release date
Dune premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 3 September 2021 and will be released internationally in most countries and for streaming on HBO MAX (US only) on 22 October 2021. In Australia, Dune’s release date is the later date of 2 December 2021, possibly due to ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns there.
Dune reviewers reactions so far
SFVR has yet to have a chance to review the 2021 version Dune, but we’ll do so as soon as it lands officially. In the meantime, here are a few quotes from some of the reviews released so far, both good and bad.
“An absorbing, awe-inspiringly huge adaptation of (half of) Frank Herbert’s novel that will wow existing acolytes, and get newcomers hooked on its Spice-fueled visions. If Part Two never happens, it’ll be a travesty.”Ben Travis from Empire
The set pieces, while sporadic, are exciting and the movie presents such a fantastic, robust sci-fi world, you could watch it a million times and find something new with each viewing. And yet, that dense, complex world exists solely to enhance a personal, relatable, emotional story. A story of a world where a boy grows to be a man with all sorts of unfathomable expectations—expectations this movie probably has on it too. But don’t worry, Dune is awesome in every sense of the word, and it’ll be a movie fans cherish for years to come.Germain Lussier Gizmodo
Denis Villeneuve’s fantasy epic tells us that big-budget spectaculars don’t have to be dumb or hyperactive, that it’s possible to allow the odd quiet passage amid the explosions.Xan Brooks Guardian
In watching Villeneuve’s moody, brooding, simmering, and hypnotic “Dune,” it’s easy to see where David Lynch’s 1984 version failed (aside from the filmmaker having the absolutely wrong sensibilities for this kind of thing). Part of the success of this version—also a drawback too—is the early apt decision by Villeneuve and writers Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth to cleave the book into two movies. This gives the “Dune” time to breathe, meditate in its creepy, expressive, ostentatious worlds, set up its machinations and characters, and, most importantly, build this universe via culture, religion, belief, and political systems. However, it makes for an incomplete story yet unfulfilled. “Dune” definitely ends with an ellipsis, the full story saved for another chapter that will hopefully arrive one day.Rodrigo Perez The Playlist
Villeneuve lays it out before us without smirking or winking; his go-for-broke earnestness feels honest and clean. And the effects, while lavish, also have a tasteful, polished quality. Particularly impressive is the massive Arrakis predator known as the sandworm, a fearsome creature that first makes its presence known as a giant ripple of action beneath the sand, before poking its lamprey-like head aboveground to sweep its prey—machinery, people, whatever—into its toothy gob. The sandworm is the stuff of nightmares, but Villeneuve’s vision of it has a shivery elegance.Stephanie Zacharek Time Magazine
Perhaps the biggest issue with Dune, however, is that this is only the first part, with the second film in preproduction. That means an awful lot of what we’re watching feels like laborious setup for a hopefully more gripping film to come — the boring homework before the juicy stuff starts happening.David Rooney Hollywood report
As a general rule, we should embrace grave and complicated blockbuster films like this, as they’re in such short supply in our age of comestible whizbang and synergistic packaging. But Dune lumbers with such aloof, uninviting self-seriousness that it’s hard to love, hard to even celebrate as an assured piece of tentpole authorship. In all its marvel, Dune forgets to do basic things like give us someone or something to root for, or feel for, or think about for longer than the stretch of the film.Richard Lawson Vanity fair