nolan of palo alto’s review published on Letterboxd:
What shook me initially about Dune was how Villeneuve throws you into the world with less of a guiding hand than you'd expect. I thought, given this only covers the first half of the novel, Villeneuve would take his time the way he so perfectly did with Blade Runner 2049. But really this is Villeneuve world-building and developing the important character beats as briskly as he can, which isn't that brisk mind you. I think because of his status as one of the most popular modern directors, it's easy to forget just how slow his films are. What also surprised me was how well the cinematography works here. Surely watching trailers that are compressed to shit on the internet in the middle of the day lowered my visual expectations. There's clearly a well realized and passionate vision for this story and I pray to God Villeneuve gets to complete it, since he's really only halfway there! What really deserves the most praise here is the special effects. Villeneuve has a great understanding of spectacle, and his shot scales complimented that sense of awe I had the entire time. Seriously the entire time I was saying to myself "fuck that's so cool". I think I should have read the book though because in all honesty it's clearly a rich and complex world that at a couple moments I was a little confused, but again the commitment to the vision and brilliant special effects kept me engaged. What also contributed to some of my confusions was the unbearably loud score. We are living in the Nolan/Zimmer era and it's arguably gotten out of hand I reckon. Blade Runner 2049 has its moments of BROOOOOOOM but each one feels as earned and complimentary as they can be. In Dune the score almost never stops and that along with its odd pacing early on are my biggest issues, as something that is merely half a novel feels like it should come off 10x more cohesive than this does. Otherwise, Villeneuve renders his Lawrence of Arabia influence into a modern "blockbuster" extremely well, both in scope and in the anxieties of the protagonist. I love how this version of Dune, like The Lord of the Rings, juxtaposes its epic scope with intimate moments that emphasize the sadness and pain there must be to have this kind of a fate. I just hope Villeneuve can go deeper in that exploration in the next film, so that, like Frodo Baggins, I can emphatically feel the tragedy of Paul.