The new Dune didn’t suck like the previous attempts, but it left a lot on the cutting room floor and changed some things that weakened the plot. It was good, but too much was cut and changed for me to think it great. Even though they only got through the first third of the story in part one… But there were some bright spots and good improvements, too.
Still, I get why they moved and changed the things they did for a movie: Sardaukar showing up way too early, Chani’s alternate exchange with Paul before the fight, etc. Kind of. It felt like they weren’t sure they would get to make parts two and three. (I think they’re going to need three.)
That said, they should not have cut Jessica’s question of Gaius Helen Mohiam about Leto from that scene after the test.
Overall, for a screen adaptation, they did fine. But they could’ve done better with Shadout Mapes, Liet Kynes, Paul’s visions didn’t land, building up the legend of Rabban, and the Guild Navigators, just for a couple examples. They just didn’t take the time.
The assault on the Atreides compound didn’t work for me, either—it felt like somebody got that battle confused with the Fremen assault on the Imperial delegation at the end of the book.
The whole duel with Jamis was wrong—and they entirely skipped giving his water to the tribe. I’mma bet that doesn’t show up in part two, either. You’re not Disney. Your audience can handle it, HBO.
I don’t know if they cut or changed in the writing or in post, but they cut and changed for the worst reason: time. The whole story would have been better served as a long form series with 20+ hours in which to breathe. Maybe Hollywood economics caused the problem, but Amazon, Netflix, and Apple have demonstrated a better willingness to take the time to do a story justice. I think HBO is gunshy now about series after they fucked up GoT.
That said, all of the casting was brilliant. They did a better job with Yueh, in my opinion, than the book. The Bene Gesserit weirding way was nicely understated, even though the voice didn’t really work for me as presented. And they made an obvious effort to keep the spirit of Dune, for which I am deeply grateful.
I’m looking forward to part two not sucking also.