Dune 2020: A Refreshing Take on The Popular Series

Dune 2021 Review

There’s always a line in a movie that hits differently than the rest of the movie. You’ll feel deep inside you that this particular moment is when the movie has definitely made an impact on you. For Dune, it was when Jessica had just sent her son into an uncertain situation that could mean the end of his life. As she frantically tries to recompose herself outside, reciting the litany through her panicked breathe, she slowly transforms from a concerned mother to the Bene Gesserit priest that she is. With each line of the litany spoken, she achieves the cold composure of a Bene Gesserit priest.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Lady Jessica, Dune

Of course, there are many iconic moments in the movie, but the litany builds a bedrock to the world of Dune. So let’s jump right in!


TLDR: Future humans use giant alien worm poop to get supernatural powers to further humanity’s progress into the future.

There’s a lot to cover in the world of Dune, so it is imperative that the movie is able to convey large volumes of information built in small and individual scenes in order to not confuse audience members that are not familiar with the world of Dune. The 1984 version had a narrator setting up the world of Dune before the movie takes place. Think Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel, voicing over exposition in the first 15 minutes of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring .

Basically, an audio version of the Star Wars’ text crawl.

Dune takes place in the distant future where humanity has reached distant planets and started terraforming and populating them. However, due to an event that is a turning point that defines the Dune world, the use of AI is not allowed in any form. Hence, humans had to find a way to fill this void with their own ability to make interstellar journeys and precise control of complex machinery. New schools of thought were formed to tap into an infinite power that has yet to be mastered: the human mind.

The aunties assembling.

These schools sharpen all the available human senses to its limit. And with the discovery of spice mélange, which has properties to enhance and evolve the mind of a human being, new species of humans with abilities that will eventually continue to propel humanity forward. Abilities of clairvoyance and the ability to make immense complex calculations in mere seconds are now prized skills that are coveted by politicians and Lords of houses alike. Even the ability to fold space and time to travel interstellar distances is possible with the use of spice.

The Dune also takes place in a feudal-like setting, where you have noble houses and an emperor who sits on a throne. Instead of a plot of lands, these great houses own planets and wage wars on a planetary scale.

The First Iteration

David Lynch worked with what was available at the time in terms of technology and film making techniques, and he tried to bring Dune to the silver screen. Although it fell short for many people, the author of the book enjoyed it immensely. He even illustrated some of the characters that weren’t given an official visual such as the Navigators and based it on how it looked in 1984’s Dune.

This looks like the beginning of a really disturbing BDSM party.

The problem with the earlier adaptation of Dune, is that due to the magnitude of the world in Dune, as well as how far in the future it takes place, the movie ended up with a lot of goofy looking scenes. There is also a lot of monologues happening in the heads of the characters, which often left them looking awkwardly at each other while the monologue is going on. Costume designs lead to some characters looking goofy. The Baron Harkonnen looks like a meth-addicted version of some character that originated from a Dr Seuss’s book. Still evil but kinda goofy. And remember that this movie was made

No one can tell me this wasn’t Minecraft’s original inspiration.

Other Attempts

I won’t be going in too much in detail in the other available content made for Dune. But if you feel like after watching the latest Dune has been a fulfilling experience, then you should check out the Lynch’s Dune, as well as the miniseries Frank Herbert’s Dune, which is a three parter that was produced by the Sci Fi Channel (Syfy).

Looks like someone had a really good poop inside that tunnel.

World Building

The world building in the latest Dune is amazing. You can expect everything to be on the right scale. The sense of scale in previous Dune shows is always lacking. Gigantic transport ships and an even bigger Heighliner. The unforgiving terrain of Arrakis and the brutal living conditions on its surface.

Realistic Fake World

When building alien worlds or just basically a world that employs a look and feel that does not exist yet in the real world, it’s quite easy to over do it and ruin the illusion of realism. Dark genres such as cyberpunk need realism to keep the tone and the dystopian close to what one would expect to happen in the real world.

Same vibes in my mind.

Dune employs very conservative use of CGI techniques, though most of its set is CGI. What I mean here is that we have realistic lighting, grounded camerawork and the subtle use of CGI to illustrate the brutalism theme of the tech that is available in Dune.

When the Harkonnens initiated their night sneak attack, we don’t get that weird lighting that constantly shows Josh Brolin’s face highlighted in the scene. What we get is naturally occurring lighting conditions. It doesn’t pull us out from how this is night ambush and the fireball explosions of the transport ships in the background will turn everyone into just small silhouettes.

This scene was amazing and horrifying at the same time.

We don’t see crazy swooping motion and zoom action of the camera that follows a character or a vehicle in combat. While this works for different genres of movies, it would ruin the realism and turn it into your average action movie.


If you have Hans Zimmer in charge of a movie’s auditory experience, you know it’s going to be something new and a rewarding experience. The music and original soundtrack is absolutely on point where you feel the complementing emotion of the scene.

From the female chants that describes the mysterious entity that are the sisters of the Bene Gesserit, to the oppressive sounding drum beats as the convoy of House Atreides arrives at the city of Arraken. There is a challenge to make a base sound that describes the sci-fi nature of Dune, and at the same time to highlight how the spirtual aspect which is the underlying focus in this universe.

A Religious Experience

Indie Wire describes it as a “Retro-Future” genre in this article, which i feel captures the vibe set by the OST in Dune. And let’s not forget how the movie starts off with a throat-singing chant that immediately sets the overall feel to the movie. There’s a lot of speculation of the meaning of the sentence since it’s not available in any of Herbert’s body of work. The chants establish a future that is deeply ingrained in the spiritual aspect. We’re not talking about a future where everyone wear white atmo suits and eat pills for food and laugh at religious cults. Dune is about the world where you are annointed by the blood of prisoners before you go into war and perform your duties as the Emperor’s blades.

Popularizing throat singing into the mainstream.

I believe the journey one will go into watching Dune will be enriched with the audio experience crafted by the maestro himself.


You have Baron Harkonnen played who is a blob of disgusting flesh but has a certain finesse with the way he carries himself. Well, most of the carrying is done by his floaty thing.

I’m sorry mom for talking back, please seat back.

Strong Female Lead

The look I get when I shoot of my Seinfeld-like zingers.

The underlying theme that can be found around the Dune is the complexity of the female characters and how they are part of secret and powerful order that has been orchestrated the galactic political chess behind the scenes. You have Lady Jessica played that carried the weight of her multiple. A mother and the Duke’s concubine. And, of course, a sister of the Bene Gesserit. Rebecca Ferguson’s presence and range of acting skills are clearly shown as she darts back and forth between her character’s multiple role in the movie. A scared mother, a cold and unreadable Bene Gesserit, and above all, a force that pushes the story forward into the desert.

The Chosen One

He went the other way, false alarm everyone.

And lastly, we have Timothe Chalamet, playing as the titular role. We’ve seen grow as an actor through interesting roles throughout his career. Most notably to me was his performance in Netflix’s The King. He played as a prince who had the responsibility of the crown thrusted to him against his will. And in Dune, well, same thing. Who kne that all of the nuances that he brought in that movie could be translated into Dune rather seamlessly. A boy who is finding himself and figuring out where is he in the grand scheme of things, particulary the Golden Path that has been foreseen by those that are blessed with Spice powers.

Thing I Would’ve Liked To See

I would’ve liked to see certain scenes to be included, particularly that of Doctor Yueh. I believe having those scenes from the book would increase the intensity of the upcoming betrayal that he will commit against House Atreides. His interactions with Paul, as well as Jessica before the night of the ambush will definitely leave a mark with the audience.

Other things that I think would’ve been a great addition to the movie:

  1. A small window into the Golden Lion Throne or the current Emperor when Dune takes place.
  2. The Spacing Guild or a Guild Navigator.
  3. How the Heighliner folds space and time. The 1984 version literally had the Guild Navigator spit plasma goop towards a shining box.


This is definitely a love letter from Danny Villeneuve to his teenage self reading the Dune novel for the first time. You can check out how he talks about his ideas and execution of the Gom Jabbar scene here. There is definitely care in the detail and final look of the movie. Although there are certain scenes that I thought lingered a bit too long unnecessarily, in theend,d the entire movie delivered a satisfying cinematic experience.

Brooding in luxury.

Danny Villeneuve has not failed to deliver a fantastic sci-fi experience, though some might disagree with me with the recent Blade Runner treatment. But I feel he’s able to deliver the core elements of what makes a sci-fi movie pop. Not just splashing in brightly colored neon signboards and a bunch of CGI and then calling it a day.

I will keep a close eye to this particular director’s body of work, and I am absolutely excited to see the second part of Dune, bringing in additional core characters to the show, as well as pivotal moments in Paul’s journey as the Mua’dib.

My recommendation? Absolutely check it out, even if you’re not a sci-fi fan. It’s an experience.



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