MOVIE REVIEW: Dune — Part One (2021)

The Sardukar priest does the Macarena as they deliver what sacred liturgy grants morale. “Heeeeeeeeeeeey Macarena!”
FUN FACT: Actor Chang Cheh played Dr. Wellington Yueh, and also played the bandit leader Lo in “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” — and that’s how I was able to recognize him , because he’s one of my favorite characters in that particular movie.
“You must milk this Albino Sphinx cat every day for the antidote to your poison, Thufir Hawat!” Classic Lynch.
  • Apologies to repeat comparisons to the 1984 version, but it’s so weird!!!
  • Unlike the 1984 movie, people of color were included. Actress Golda Rosheuvel (“Bridgerton” [TV, Netflix], “Luther” [TV]) takes over as Shadout Mapes for character actress Linda Hunt (Kindergarten Cop, If Looks Could Kill), and Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences [2016], “Devs” [TV, Hulu]) takes over for British actor Freddie Jones (Krull, Antony and Cleopatra) as the role of Mentat Thufir Hawat. There was even some gender-swapping: Dr. Kynes was played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, “Intergalactic” [TV, Peacock]), a dark-skinned British Black woman, when it was previously played by Swedish actor Max Von Sydow (Flash Gordon [1980], The Seventh Seal, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).
  • Several more brown- and black-skinned people could be seen as members of the Fremen, in line with the climate and span of time that passed between the arrival of the Fremen on Arrakis and Paul’s arrival. Most notable is the Fremen leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men, Mother!) and Paul’s Fremen love interest Chani, (Disney channel alum Zendaya, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Malcolm and Marie).
  • A lot of Black and brown people die in this movie, with prominent characters like the aforementioned Dr. Kynes and the Fremen warrior Jamis (played by Nigerian actor Babatunde Olusanmokun, Wrath of Man, “Black Mirror” [TV, Netflix]) dying in extended scenes. I worry for Zendaya if the second part chooses to change the story.
  • Let’s be clear: ONE MAN’S TERRORIST IS ANOTHER MAN’S FREEDOM FIGHTER. Though various earlier versions of the Dune story try to erase the background of the Fremen, it’s too obvious these people are the descendants of our world’s Muslim people. Our nationalist programming has led us to treat every brown and black person as a bad guy and every Muslim as a terrorist. I can imagine when the earlier versions cast actors to play Fremen, they wanted them to look as non-threatening as possible. So they cast White people to fill those roles, with the Syfy miniseries approaching the mark of “othering” the Fremen with Eastern European accents.
    What does that say of Paul Atreides if someone outside of the Fremen and Atreides camp — does that make him a terrorist? Because by the logic of the books and movies, Paul is a hero for warring against the occupying and brutal Harkonnens. The same could be said for Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker — also hardened in the desert and warring against an occupying and brutal Galactic Empire. I suppose this is why China hates Star Wars, but America loves it. NOTE: I will repost this in the review for the second movie to this tale.
  • I really want to know how the landing gear on the Atreides fighter wings work — they didn’t seem to be connected by anything.
  • The moment the ornithopter's wings didn’t unfurl after leaving the sandstorm, I knew they were screwed.
  • I am also a big fan of the music: the Middle-Eastern vocals and instruments let you know where you are and what’s up.
  • Looking at the Imperial Army planet Salusa Secundus and the thousands of Sardaukar there awaiting deployment, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Imperial Space Marines from Warhammer 40,000.
  • I remember the personal Holtzman shields from the 1984 film, all boxy and obscuring. The 2021 Holtzman shields are amazing and make much more sense visually. Not only that, they’re applied to the ships as well — something not shown in the ‘84 film. That makes an even better effect when House Atreides’ air fields are hit by Harkonnen attackers with slow moving drill bombs. When the bombs do land on a ship, the shields hold the resultant explosion inside its borders until the shield generators fail. It’s a damn cool effect.

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Shaun Watson

Shaun Watson

Writing from a need to get my notes from Facebook to a place where someone can see them, I hope you like my stuff.