The Future of Classic Sci-Fi: Rating “Dune” (Pop at Palmetto)

Nicole Martin, Copy Editor

Based on the 1965 sci-fi novel and trilogy by author Frank Herbert, “Dune” has now been released as a film adaptation starring well-loved actor and actress, Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. 

Originally, the film was scheduled to release in the Fall of 2020, but due to complications because of COVID-19, the movie came out on October 22, 2021. Viewers can watch on both HBO Max and in theaters.

“Dune” is set in the year 10,191 and follows the story of Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet), the gifted son of a royal family with powers beyond those of his mother. Paul lives on the planet of Caladan, where his father, Duke Leto of Atreides, is called to be the new governor of the most dangerous planet in the universe, Arrakis. 

Arrakis is a desert planet home to “spice,” an extremely powerful and valuable drug that provides enhanced abilities and the skills to navigate interstellar space to those who use it. Because of the spice’s value and limited supply, it can only be found on the planet Arrakis; conflict ensues as a hunger for power emerges from those who want to seek it for themselves. As a result, Paul must secure the future of his family and people.

Needless to say, watching this movie without any prior knowledge can make things really confusing. It has many layers of lore, with complex themes to match. Despite the need to intensely focus on the ongoing events, the movie did a great job of depicting the novel’s beauty. 

The cinematography of the movie really stood out to me. Every shot beautifully encapsulated the feel of a futuristic world. “Dune” felt real and drew me in because of how stunning every scene looked. Not to mention the Star Wars-esque spacecrafts made for some pretty awesome screenshots. 

Another aspect of the movie I absolutely fell in love with was its soundtrack. Composed by Hans Zimmer, the soundtrack for this movie is brilliant. With the use of instrumentals, sounds of the desert, haunting vocals and futuristic melodies, Zimmer’s score portrays the feeling of Arrakis perfectly: beautiful, yet dangerous. 

A critique I did have about the movie was its length. Though it did a pretty good job of world-building, the movie felt as if it dragged at times, making it tedious and even boring at times to sit through and watch, despite Chalamet’s amazing acting in this film. Another critique I had was that characters like the one Zendaya played, Chani, which viewers saw advertised greatly in the trailer, but proceeded to not get that much screen time in the actual film. Perhaps if the trailer and advertising did not focus so much on Zendaya, expectations for her character may have felt a little bit lower. Perhaps in the second movie we can see more of her character. 

Overall, “Dune” did a masterful job with its cinematography, world-building and music along with the addition of Chalamet’s exceptional acting, proving to be one of his best acting jobs by far. Though the movie falls flat with its longer runtime, possible misadvertising and complexity, Dune’s pros outweigh its cons, remaining a highlight of 2021 and an overall great film.