I still don’t care.
I still don’t care about House Atreides and House Harkonnen. I’m tired of hearing about the Bene Gesserit and the Kwisatz Haderach, the Padishah Emperor and his Imperial Sardaukar troops, and Paul’s mysterious connection to the Fremen (He knows how to wear a stillsuit correctly, oh my!). The whole wheels-within-wheels, schemes-within-schemes, secret-societies-within-secret-societies thing just doesn’t intrigue me as much as Frank Herbert wants it to.
In fact, the whole Dune universe just doesn’t work for me. It’s set something like 20,000 years in the future and has giant spaceships, but it’s filled with a superstitious medieval culture that fights with knives. I realize there are in-universe explanations for why things are the way they are, such as how shields make knives more effective than guns, but that doesn’t make it stop feeling silly.
And the whole Arrakis plot doesn’t make sense. If you’re prepared to invade a planet to destroy House Atreide, why don’t the Harkonnens and the Emperor just combine forces and attack them on Caladan? Instead, the Emperor gets the Harkonnens to abandon Arrakis, which they already control, only to return and try to take it back by force with help from the Emperor. That seems like an awful lot of trouble.
(Although actually, the initial invasion is super-easy, barely an inconvenience. Somehow the Harkonnens are able to enter the solar system, land ships on Arrakis, and get troops all the way to the door of the palace before anyone notices. And they are helped with this because the Atreides’ personal doctor, who holds no military command, is somehow able to disable the shields and let them in.)
I’ve now seen both movies (and the miniseries) and tried to read the book several times, but it just doesn’t draw me in. I realize that some of the things that bother me have explanations in the book, but that doesn’t help me enjoy it any more.
Dune is widely regarded as one of the greatest science fiction stories of all time, but for whatever reason, I can’t get into it. I find much of it unlikeable.
Having said all that, if you’re still interested in my review…
This is certainly my favorite version of the story. It’s beautiful to watch, some of the characters are amusing, and the story (as much of it as we get in this first half) is told with some clarity. Also, one of Dune‘s silliest ideas — ornithopters — actually works visually, as these ornithopters traverse the desert like ferocious insects, angry and powerful.
I hope this Dune does well enough to get its sequel, because fans of the story deserve something this beautiful.
But I won’t get very excited about it.