Timothee Chalamet shines, but “Dune” leaves viewers confused & wanting more

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"The movie itself contains stunning shots of desert dunes, beautiful close-up shots, and wonderful costume designs. Timothy Chalamet comes into his own with this role and showcases his potential for a serious and successful acting career." - Arts & Entertainment Editor / Al Harmon.

A $5 ticket was all it took for me to see the new “Dune” movie, starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya, based on the 1965 science-fiction novel by Frank Herbert. 

After walking up the stairs of the Kutztown Strand Theater to Auditorium No. 2 and taking my seat, I was subjected to one of the most beautiful, yet boring movies I’ve seen in years. 

“Dune” follows young Paul Atreides, played by Timothy Chalamet, who is the son of the Duke of the House Atreides, as the Emperor commands his father to lead his people onto the unconquered planet, Arrakis.

It starts to feel strange when Paul begins having unexplainable visions of this beautiful Fremen woman, a species native to Arrakis. Threatened by the power of the House of Atreides, an assassination attempt is made upon the entire house with varying degrees of success. Paul and his mother escape into the wilderness before stumbling upon a group of Fremens, including Zendaya. 

The film’s grand finale occurs when Paul is challenged by their leader, whom he kills, and becomes the head of a Fremen group of travelers on a planet he has almost no experience with. Roll credits. 

The movie itself contains stunning shots of desert dunes, beautiful close-up shots, and wonderful costume designs. Timothy Chalamet comes into his own with this role and showcases his potential for a serious and successful acting career. The soundtrack was also surprisingly good, although it seemed a bit disconnected from the content of the scenes it overlays. Technically the film is brilliant, but plot-wise I have a few concerns.

Despite appearing prominently in the promotions for the film, Zendaya is treated more like a sex-symbol mirage than an actual character. She’s seen almost exclusively through Paul’s wordless visions, often staring wistfully into the camera as if she’s posing for the cover of Vogue. Her sexualization is highly apparent in one particular vision where she lures Paul in with a slow, tension-building kiss before stabbing him.

Another issue I have with the film is that Paul’s main conflict is within himself, as he struggles with these visions that he cannot explain. The film gives some vague explanation as to what these visions are, but I still left the theater wondering what exactly they were about.

The visions take up a significant chunk of the film without much payoff. We don’t see most of these visions come to fruition or have any real impact on Paul’s actions. The film could have saved itself about thirty minutes of run-time and cut at least 75% of these scenes with no real impact on the plot. 

In total, the film just felt like a long lead-up to a second “Dune” movie. During its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, it asks more questions than it answers and leaves the viewer more confused. It comes as no shock that shortly after its premiere weekend, it was announced that a second film was in the works.

One thing is for sure, when “Dune 2” comes out, I will be sitting in the front row trying to piece together what exactly I saw the first time.

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