I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think it needed to be longer. I needed more character moments. It’s stupendous filmmaking, but the last hour is rushed, and it feels like we’re missing Paul’s motivation. Why does he do what he does? Does he think he can beat his visions and prevent his future? Has he accepted his fate? I don’t understand his convictions, but I want to, and the way I’m held at a distance from him in the final act is frustrating. 

I’m looking forward to a re-watch. I think this story is told from Chani’s perspective, which means we’re seeing her get more distant from Paul as he makes his big decisions. But for me as an audience member, that’s actually less helpful in my understanding of the film, and makes it harder for me to understand and empathize with the characters. 

Still, I don’t want to complain much: this is bold, muscular filmmaking, and I love that we still get to see brainy sci fi like this on a big screen. I prefer something smart and messy to something toothless and plastic. A lot of really incredible sequences stuffed into this film — the first sand worm ride really blew me away — and several standout performances.

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