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Dune 2021 HBO Max Movie Review

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  • 5 min read

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Dune HBO Max Movie Review
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The Best way I’ve found of describing Dune is Game Thrones (or even Lord of the Rings) meets Star Wars.

From the very beginning, Dune does a brilliant job of introducing us to a vast new universe, rich in history and made up of several planets, religious factions, and cultures. The movie looked beautiful. And thanks to its amazing visual effects, every aspect of this new world felt both real and captivating.

However, coupled with this amazing world-building came the familiar backstabbing politics we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in Game of thrones. And it’s this two-faced politics that serves as the driving force for Dune Part1.

Throughout its near three-hour runtime, Dune essentially alternates between two major plot points. In the foreground, the Sci-Fi epic focuses on the House Atreides and their cold war with The Emperor. However, in the background, the movie zooms in on Paul Atreides and tells the tale of his gradual ascent to power.

Paul Atreides

Timothy Chalamet as Paul Atreides (Dune HBO Max Review)
Paul Atreides (Warner Bros Credit: Warner Bros)

Dune kicks off with Paul Atreides (Timothy Chalamet), Son of Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), and heir to House Atreides. And from the get-go, the film points out that Paul is far from ordinary. However, this uniqueness is largely because of the power & skill Paul inherits from his Bene Gesserit mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson).

Now The Bene Gesserits are probably the most interesting faction within The Dune universe. Asides from manipulating Dune’s political events, this religious order of women also possess several abilities including “The Voice,” which gives them the temporary ability to mind control victims by altering their voice.

But in addition to “The Voice,” Paul also awakens the power of prescience visions (the ability to see all futures). And through Paul’s visions, Dune not only gives us a preview of many events that will follow but also introduces several major players.

First, we meet House Harkonnen, a strange race of humans and the Tyrannical rulers of the planet Arrakis. Over course of the movie, we learn The Harkonnens have grown obscenely rich from exporting the spice substance on Akarris.

However, one day The Emperor strips House Harkonnen of the planet Arrakis and awards it to the House Atreides. Thus bringing decades of immense wealth to a halt.

But while this might seem like a gift to House Atreides, Dune soon reveals the real motive behind this move.

House Atreides vs The Emperor

Duke Leto and House Atreides (Dune HBO Max Review)
Duke Leto and House Atreides (Credit: Warner Bros)

One of the best aspects of Dune is the conflict between House Atreides and The Emperor. Not only does this cold war give us a proper understanding of Dune’s politics, but it also sets the stage for many events.

Though the man himself is never seen, The Emperor’s presence was felt throughout the movie.

Fearing the rising power and influence of House Atreides, The Emperor devises a plan to destroy his potential rivals. After stripping House Harkonnen of Arrakis, The Emperor awards the planet to House Atreides, under the guise of giving it to more capable rulers. But it soon becomes obvious that the real aim behind this move was to lure House Atreides from their fortified home planet and then ambush them.

However, House Atreides wasn’t Idle.

Knowing fully well that the imperial order to bring peace to Arrakis was a trap, Duke Leto Atreides tries to prepare for the inevitable ambush by forming an alliance with the Native Tribe of Arrakis, The Fremen.

By channeling the nomads’ desert power, Duke Leto believed House Atreides could weather any attack on the planet Arrakis. And with the help of his most trusted men Duncan Idaho (Jason Mamoa) and Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), House Atreides strikes a deal with the desert tribe.

But despite their best plans, House Atreides is ultimately got off guard by the combined force of The Emperor and The Harkonnens. And it’s not long before the entire house comes crashing down.

Immersive But Incomplete

If there’s one major issue I had with Dune, it is its abrupt ending.

After the fall of House Atreides, Paul and his Mother escape the siege and travel the sand-worm-filled desert of Arrakis to find the Fremen. But after the desert tribe accepts Paul into their tribe, the movie suddenly ends.

Yes, we know Dune 2 will see Paul going after the emperor and the Harkonnens. However, Dune as a standalone movie lacks the satisfying conclusion expected of a Sci-Fi epic.



Movie title: Dune


Though it’s a movie, Dune feels like the first episode of a promising new series. Blessed with great visual effects and an amazing cast, the film does a brilliant job of throwing us into a new universe battling familiar issues.  

But while Dune brilliantly sets up a sequel, more than half of its story also heavily relies on that sequel. And because of this, Dune ultimately feels like an incomplete movie.

Long story short, I can’t wait for Dune 2

User Review
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  • Excellent Acting & Interesting Characters
  • Great World Building
  • Great Visual Effects 
  • Solid Setup for Dune 2


  • Dune’s Story is Heavily Reliant on Sequel 
  • Movie Feels Incomplete
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