Dune: Critics divided over Denis Villeneuve’s ‘dazzling’ and ‘boring’ sci-fi adaptation

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Dune: Critics divided over Denis Villeneuve’s ‘dazzling’ and ‘boring’ sci-fi adaptation
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Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has divided critics, receiving both rave reviews and being branded disappointing.

Debuting at the Venice Film Festival on Friday (3 September), the new version of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic features an all-star cast including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson and Jason Momoa.

In a five-star review for The Independent, critic Clarisse Loughrey said that the Dune remake was this generation’s answer to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“Villeneuve’s Dune is the sandworm exploding out from the darkness below,” she wrote. “It is a film of such literal and emotional largeness that it overwhelms the senses. If all goes well, it should reinvigorate the book’s legacy in the same way Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy did for JRR Tolkien’s work.

The Guardian’s Xan Brooks also gave Dune a five-star review, calling it “blockbuster cinema at its dizzying, dazzling best”.

Full marks were given again by Robbie Collin at The Daily Telegraph, who said that Villeneuve’s adaptation was an “awe-inspiring piece of work”.

He highlighted Chalamet’s lead performance as Paul Atreides, as well as his chemistry with Rebecca Ferguson, who plays his mother.

Empire’s Ben Travis once again gave Dune a raving five-star review, writing: “For science-fiction devotees, especially those who have long-worshipped Frank Herbert’s dense tome and waited decades for it to be brought to the screen in a more successful incarnation than previous filmmakers have managed, make no mistake: Villeneuve’s Dune is the adaptation you always dreamed of.”

Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in ‘Dune' (Warner Bros/Moviestore/Shutterstock)
Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in ‘Dune' (Warner Bros/Moviestore/Shutterstock)

Richard Trenholm said on Cnet that the film is a “a thoughtful and thrilling movie experience”, albeit one that’s too short and “stops right in the middle”.

However, The Times gave the film a negative review, with Kevin Maher writing in his two-star judgement that while Dune looks “gorgeous”, it is “kind of boring”.

“The film spends so much time trapped in expository sludge that it provides us with precious little actual drama or character evolution,” he wrote. “As a piece of narrative storytelling, it’s inert. As a film, it fails.”

Similarly, Variety’s Owen Gleiberman writes that the movie is “spectacular and engrossing… until it isn’t”, saying that the visual world is let down by its storytelling.

Dune is released in cinemas on 22 October

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