This review seems to be like so many book reviews I read: "they didn't write the book I wanted". The film is good. It may not be the film the viewer wanted, but film isn't book, and film doesn't have to be cultural commentary or exposition.
The books are enjoyable (at least the first couple) and they do deep dive into the culture of the Freman, but no movie can do that in the same way.
I think it is a good thing to want more casting of more diverse groups. But to pretend that any one group owns an identity in a work of science fiction is not in keeping with the genre. Most Muslims aren't Arab. Many Arabs aren't Muslim. The people of the desert are diverse and always changing just like the sands they walk. Can you imagine a future where they look like they do in the film? I don't think it takes too much suspension of disbelief to do so.
Now I must watch Lynch’s version. Not necessarily looking forward to it — seems rather problematic. Could be a nice experience nevertheless…
Great read, I’m not familiar with the literary commentary on Dune. Very interesting to see that scholars are positive about the verisimilitude of his depiction of an Arab-Muslim culture. The downplaying of this in the film is regrettable, but almost inevitable in this day and age given the commercial pressures. (I doubt the Chinese censors are oblivious to a Muslim desert uprising as a movie theme.)
I've seen Villeneuve's Incendies many years back and thought it was impressive. I wasn’t imagining a western director behind it. Would there have been a commercial struggle between Villeneuve and the movie’s producer here? Sounds likely. About a month ago I read Ali Karjoo-Ravary ’s critique on Readup, I was glad to see it referenced in this piece. I’m also relieved that at least the book is recognized for its verisimilitude, because it's not fun reading something knowing you’re being taught a faulty image of real people.
I think Villeneuve is such a visual director and that made him a bad pick for this film. I saw this in Blade Runner 2 to a lesser degree as well. The problem is that non-visual themes are lost in the overwhelming visuals and the visuals are often not strongly connected to the themes. For me this makes his films pretty boring, because even if the visuals are intense the intensity of the visuals are disconnected from the content of the story. It has just seemed to me as a viewer that his films show a lack of capacity to truly engage with complex themes and that is what we're seeing here.
This is brutal against the film. Despite subtle changes like Dr. Kynes (and I 100% enjoyed the casting choice Change in the film) I felt the film is pretty faithful to the story overall. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it flew by feeling more like an hour and a half long instead of almost 3.
Liet Kynes was my favorite character from the book and I was surprised when I saw a female actress playing him. I thought she did great and I loved the movie. I can’t wait for part two.