Denis Villeneuve’s Depthless, Boring Dune (2021): A Critique

RND/ To consider a critique of Dune (2021, Dir. Denis Villeneuve):

Dune Movie Poster

Quick capsule review; “One big, laughably embarrassing deadpan ‘Meh’. Blame Canada.”

To turn the usual toxic internet language around on itself, much like a worm that eats its own sad tale: ‘these fragments of critique are not for everyone.’

Violently unmemorable, the whole empty, deathly boring spectacle leaves you stone cold, despite the heat. And it really is just that; a spectacle of one director’s vast ego, smeared across the screen in depthless beige tones.

Let us never forget, or forgive: Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 was probably the biggest cinematic shitshow of 2017. Many didn’t buy into the hype before it arrived, and they don’t buy into the religious death-cult hype around Dune.

What Villeneuve fanbois regard as his godlike mastery of ‘mood’ and ‘tone’ is really just a preference of images over any actual human meaning. Villeneuve’s worthless moody tonalities imply ‘everything’ (like that’s even possible) but actually express little but the unadorned fact they mean virtually nothing.

For all that Dune constantly tells itself it accomplishes in Scope, Scale and Extravagance, there is a distinct corresponding lack of human scale elements which make it remotely interesting, or subtle; in short it’s scale is merely a measure of its failure of imagination.

Dune is bland, sterile, bloodless – definitely a whitey’s movie. (By ‘white’, we mean idiot space apes who identify as White(TM) instead of simply human.) A little bland cinematic something to further reinforce how inherently important they imagine they are. Another convenient colonial myth.

Villeneuve is either incapable or uninterested in creating tension. Talk about languid pacing; the director would rather drag out a scene for an hour than speed anything up to give it the slightest sense of immediacy and strength of meaning.

Lines and the ends of scenes just fall utterly flat, stone cold dead into the open mouth of a giant sand worm. A simple test; take a shot of your favorite tipple every time you hear a line of dialogue, instantly compare it to Lynch’s flawed cult classic – and find the new version violently lacking. You’ll be pissed off your tits before the movie’s even half way through. Lynch’s version simply pisses over Villeneuve’s without effort.

Where the fuck was the equivalent of Brian Eno’s awesome Prophecy Theme? There is none. Hans Zimmer’s score is about as obvious and flatly generic in its consummate corporate professionalism as its possible to get. One can imagine the list of adjectives he got handed him from Upper Middle Management; ‘exotic’, ‘deserty’, ‘futuristic’, ‘warm yet punchy’.

How come Paul’s mother is afraid for her son while he takes the box test – instead of Paul himself? Where was the witch’s shock at the amount of induced pain Paul was able to endure? The whole scene was limper than spent cabbage.

The personal force shield effects and sounds totally sucked, and simply weren’t as good as those in Lynch’s Dune.

Where was awesome scene where the space engineers fold space?

Who made the brainless decision to classify Space as a mere ‘hallucinogen’? The whole universe of Dune is already familiar with its ability to allow individuals to fold spacetime itself, yet the movie sees it like cheap nightclub E’s? Spice is super concentrated psychedelic spacetime, an biopsychic energy source – not the cheap coke Den must be sniffing if he thinks this movie’s a new Classic. (See bullshit ‘midi-chlorians‘ for comparison.)

Duncan Idahoe still acts like Aquaman.

Javier Bardem’s Stilgar is simply no way as good as that of Everett McGill’s.

Where was Chani’s classic line “Tell me of your home world, Usul”?

The decision to show the sandworms in the trailer was dumb, and typical of Villeneuve’s heavy handed, on-the-nose style. Indeed he seems all but incapable of allusion or hinting.

This is a movie about oh-so noble Whitey, fashy eugenic androids forever staring off into the middle distance in that way they do, heads up, hands on hips, saving the future from itself by the mere fact of their innate whitey-rightness and fetishized severity of their austere nobility.

Paul’s fucking ‘reluctant hero’ bullshit is totally unbelievable, and as cliched as hell. “Muah, I’m the rich white son of a Duke, and I don’t want to be here – it’s sandy, waaa!”

Absolutely none of the delicious straight-faced camp that makes Lynch’s Dune strangely charming is here.

Timothée Chalamet could be an out of order sex doll in Ghost In The Shell, and he’d make more of an emotional impression than he does here. Skinny little pimp. He’s just too fucking young to be Paul.

Just look at their faces. None of these characters seem to have an unconscious. Their lives and actions are dutiful, obvious, breathtakingly bland, and painfully literal. In fact ‘Painful literalness’ could be Villeneuve’s middle name.

Let’s face it this is a movie only really for overly keen young punks physically unable to appreciate anything older than 2.4 minutes old (and a little too brainless to appreciate David Lynch’s strong attempt. The same thing happened with Blade Runner.) Spoilt bunches of Johhny Fucking Come-Latelys who scream shit like ‘take my money’ at CGI bloated trailers – yet regard themselves as intimately familiar with ‘the franchise’ just because they heard the abridged audiobook version on their Apple AirPods while jerking off at the local gym. At least Lynch tried, expended effort actually making the film like a true psychedelic vision. Villeneuve’s version of ‘vision’ is merely to make everything on screen oversized. He’s obviously over-compensating for something. At least this particular demographic might have the balls to go see the movie stoned (it would probably improve it no end.)

The parody of life that is Villeneuve’s universe is one reduced to a shallow, unambiguous cypher of emptiness; a respectable mask of soulless spartan minimalism.

Villeneuve’s seemingly ‘meditative, hypnotic, angsty’ movie dreams are really just paper thin shells left by dead WASPS. Dune: a movie clogged with sand displaying little but emotional morbidity. Things just happen, people move, but nothing truly human or truly strange occurs. Bollocks to Denis Villeneuve – and Christopher Nolan why you’re at it. They just don’t quite get it. Even Den’s fucking name is starting to grate on people’s sandy tit ends.

// how to play big science