Dune Review: A Cinematic Epic. One Which Has to be Experienced in Theaters.

For quite a few years, friends were telling me that I should read Frank Herbert’s Dune, calling it one of the best science fiction stories of all time, and one that inspired generations of stories from that genre, like Star Wars, for instance.
However, for whatever reason, I did not take my friends’ advice and read Dune.
Then, I saw the trailers for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 adaptation of the novel.
These trailers blew me away and Villeneuve is one of my favourite directors working today, so, knowing how dedicated he was to making Dune, I finally sat down and read the book.
I could not put it down.
The novel enthralled me from start to finish and, ever since finishing, it I have been eagerly anticipating the film’s release to theaters, and was finally able to see it yesterday.
Did it disappoint?
Absolutely not.
Dune is not just an incredible adaptation but I already think it’s one of the best movies I have ever seen, even though I only first saw it yesterday.

Dune is a masterful, cinematic experience.

The film tells the story of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a young noble born to Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and his Bene Gesserit concubine Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson).
Duke Leto is the ruler of the planet Caladan, however, the Pardishah Emperor mysteriously decides to order the Atreides family to take stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, the only planet in the universe where the substance known as Spice can be found.
Spice not only has various benefits to the user but is also the reason interstellar travel is possible, so it is the most valuable resource in the universe.
You would think this would put the Atreides in an excellent position but, in taking over Spice production on Arrakis, they are taking over the position of the previous rulers of Arrakis, their rival family of the Harkonnens, lead by the cruel Baron Vladamir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård).
With the threat of the Harkonnens and even the Emperor’s displeasure hanging over their heads, the Atreides seek an alliance with the native Fremen, among them Stilgar (Javier Bardem).
However, at the same time as this is happening, Paul is having strange dreams, many of which feature a woman named Chani (Zendaya), and these dreams may point to a brutal future for not just Paul’s future but also the future of the entire universe.

Paul’s dreams hold a lot of meaning to them.

Yes, this is the story’s basic opening hook and it is a lot to take in.
Thankfully, Villeneuve presents this information to the viewer perfectly, with only a few things being left out, like the explanation of Mentat powers.
Helping this presentation of information is the incredible acting, cinematography and score.
Speaking of the acting, every single member of the cast brings their A-game, whether their roles in the story are small or major.
I already spoke of most of the characters, but two who I especially enjoyed are Paul’s mentors Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa).
In fact, I would say that I actually liked the movie’s interpretation of Duncan more than the first novel.
The movie shows the friendship between him and Paul a lot better, making later scenes where the two share screen time a lot more impactful.

Rewatching the trailers after finishing the book got me excited for more Paul and Duncan interactions, and the movie did not disappoint.

As for the cinematography, it is absolutely beautiful and Greg Fraser did an amazing job.
I had a massive grin on my face almost the entire way through the film because of how gorgeous almost every single shot looked.
What made this grin even wider was Han Zimmer’s brilliant score, his best one to date, in my opinion. 

The cinematography and score often combined to create stunning scenes, like this shot of the villanous Baron Harkonnen.

Pair this excellent acting, cinematography and score with Villeneuve’s direction, and you have a masterful adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel that needs to be seen in theaters. 
Seriously, I am so glad I decided to watch this for the first time at the movies instead of on HBO Max.
It just provides an experience for this film that cannot possibly be matched on the smaller screen.
I just wish that the studios had realised what they had and agreed with Villeneuve’s wish to film the sequel at the same time, so both parts could be released closer together.
Well, at least we are getting a sequel, with hopefully more on the way, since I have also read the sequel novel Dune: Messiah and loved that as well.
I cannot wait to read the rest of Dune novels now that I have finally finished The Wheel of Time books, and it would be great to see those get future adaptations as well, given how excellent Villeneuve’s Dune was.
In regards to the future of Dune as a movie franchise, I only have one thing to say.
Let the sequels flow.   

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review – More Like The Rise of Retcons.

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The reactions to Disney’s new Star Wars trilogy have been… interesting to say the least.
It constantly feels like the extreme fans are at one another’s throats with each subsequent movie.
Personally, I enjoyed the first two films in this new trilogy.
I still love The Force Awakens, with it being my third favourite movie in the saga, next to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
As for The Last Jedi, I thought it was a great film when I first watched it but, upon multiple rewatches, it became clear that it did have a lot of issues.
Even so, I enjoy the film but, sadly, the same cannot be said for The Rise of Skywalker, once again directed by J.J Abrams.
The funny thing is that this review was initially supposed to be positive but I quickly realised that I was writing down more negatives than positives about the film so it did not constitute being called a good film.
I would say that The Rise of Skywalker is the most flawed installment in this new trilogy.
Right from the start, I knew we were in trouble because the opening crawl details things that we should have been shown rather than told.
Following this, the first act is a complete mess that feels completely lacking in soul.
I found it incredibly difficult to care as the central characters of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) jumped from planet to planet, searching for a MacGuffin.
Even worse, when Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is sent by a somehow alive Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) to kill Rey it causes the movie to deliver a whole bunch of retcons to try and undo all of the twists in The Last Jedi that many vocal fans had issue with.
The most evident of these is Palpatine himself.
With Snoke gone, they just shoehorned in Palpatine with absolutely no setup.

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Palpatine basically serves as the replacement big bad guy after Snoke and it is blatantly obvious that his return was not planned.

And that is my big problem with this new trilogy.
Disney clearly had absolutely no plan when making these films and it creates a story that just doesn’t connect into a cohesive whole.
Look at the prequels.
Those films may be worse than these ones but George Lucas did have a plan on where the story would go.
Granted, he did not do a good job at adapting this plan but he still had one.
However, I will not say that The Rise of Skywalker is awful.
What saves the film from that is that it does get better after the first act and this is in no small part to the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren.
Kylo Ren is the best character in this trilogy and Adam Driver does an amazing job as him.
Although, I personally did not care for where their connection went at the end because it seemed kind of pointless.
Another positive is Princess Leia, with this film serving as a fitting goodbye to Carrie Fisher who tragically passed away.
She is put into the film using archived footage and it feels very respectful.

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Carrie Fisher got a meaningful sendoff in this film.

What does not feel respectful is the treatment of characters like Finn and Rose.
Finn got dealt a bad hand after The Force Awakens where his arc was repeated in The Last Jedi and is virtually nonexistent here but it is Rose’s actor Kelly Marie Tran who I feel the most sorry for.
She got a big role in the The Last Jedi but was not well received and got so much hate, some of it racially motivated, that it forced her off social media, and now she is pushed into a role as a side character in this film.
You could remove Rose from The Rise of Skywalker entirely and nothing would change.
Another jarring thing is the spy subplot in this film, which was completely pointless and felt like it was created to adapt to changes made in The Last Jedi, just like everything else.
Aside from Kylo Ren, his connection with Rey and the treatment of Leia, there are only a few other things I can say I liked about this movie.
One is the action, which is fun as always but with no standout moment, and some of the jokes that did land.

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There was one joke between C3PO and R2D2 that had me burst out into laughter.

Other than this, though, The Rise of Skywalker is a mess that does not flow well with the other two films in this trilogy.
If only those running the whole thing like Kathleen Kennedy had put their foot down and tried to put together a plan for creating a cohesive story.
At the very least this should have been done after The Force Awakens. 
In conclusion, I will say I consider The Force Awakens to be a great film, The Last Jedi to be a good film with a lot of problems, and The Rise of Skywalker to be a mess with only a few redeeming qualities, all coming together to create a story that just does not flow.
On the bright side, at least this new trilogy is not as bad as the prequels.