I went to the CinéArts Sequoia for my last 2021 Mill Valley Film Festival event: A screening of Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming science fiction epic, Dune.
It was not an enjoyable experience.
Before the movie, Executive Director Mark Fishkin and Director of Programming Zoë Elton came to the front of the theater and brought up Daniel Kenyon, who had donated a lot of money (film festivals run on this sort of thing). Then Dune‘s director, Denis Villeneuve, joined them to introduce the film. He didn’t say anything worth saying.
From left to right: Denis Villeneuve, Zoë Elton, and Mark Fishkin
Now, what about the movie:
If you enjoy big visual effects, loud sounds, and a lot of fighting both by sword, bomb, and giant worm, you’ll probably enjoy this version of Frank Herbert’s epic novel (which I read many decades ago and barely remember). I admit that I enjoy that sort of thing, myself, but not if that’s all there is. In Dune, Every single character had the same two traits: courage and fortitude. No one is cowardly, or roguish, or funny. The movie is set on a desert planet where people fight for two rare commodities, water and something called spice – which seems to be both a hallucinogen and an interstellar rocket fuel.
We’re told at the beginning that this is “Part 1.” Yes, it’s the beginning of a franchise. That actually makes sense, considering the length of the book. Maybe Part 2 might have some interesting characters.
The two dull heroes
As I watched the film, I couldn’t help thinking that George Lucas borrowed a lot from the novel Dune when he made the early Star Wars movies. But Lucas was smart enough to have a Han Solo and a C-3PO.
I give the film a C-, although I must admit that the audience gave the film a large round of applause. Perhaps they were trying to be polite.
Although the director was in attendance – or perhaps he was in a bar across the street – there was no Q&A.