A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This film covers the first half of the source novel, so many of the book's bigger themes -- including religion and environmentalism -- aren't fully explored. One theme that does arise involves control of Arrakis: The villains (House Harkonnen) oppress the Fremen, while the heroes (House Atreides) try to work alongside them.
Positive Role Models
Paul comes off as a fairly traditional hero but also has started down a dark path by beginning to use a prophecy to his own advantage, setting himself up as a kind of messiah. To prove himself worthy of the Fremen, he kills a man; there are no consequences. His father, Duke Leto, is a far better role model; he's shown to be kind, benevolent, wise, understanding, although his trust and loyalty eventually (spoiler alert) get him killed.
Male-driven narrative, but women in supporting roles are quite powerful and admirable. This version improves on previous iterations' all-White casts by including diverse actors (Latino, Hawaiian/Polynesian, Asian, Black), but main characters are still all White, and (spoiler alert) virtually all characters of color die. Has raised concerns in the way it leans on Middle Eastern culture for world-building but doesn't include any MENA actors. No body/size diversity, unless you count the Baron, whose grotesqueness is unfortunately tied to his larger size and eating.
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Violence & Scariness
Sci-fi action-style guns and shooting. People get shot; deaths/dead bodies. Fighting with swords, blades, other weapons. Battles. Explosions. Character stabbed. Character impaled with dart. Neck-slicing. Beheadings. Characters swallowed by sandworm. Not much blood, but scenes include a bloody hand, bloody knife, blood spot. Poison gas. Crash-landing. Rape is mentioned in dialogue.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. A man appears to be naked; nothing explicit shown. Shirtless man.
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Infrequent use of "hell," "s--t," "ass," "damn." "My God" used as an exclamation.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
"Spice" is described as a drug that has good properties but is also addictive; the only side effect is that it turns users' eyes luminous blue. It's not really depicted as a substance that can be abused. It's more just "the thing" that both the heroes and villains want to get their hands on.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dune is based on Frank Herbert's epic 1965 novel (previously adapted for the big screen in 1984 and for TV in 2000). It covers the first half of the book and stars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. Sci-fi action violence includes lots of fighting, both on the battlefield and one on one, with guns, knives, and other weapons. There are also beheadings and explosions, and characters are stabbed and/or cut open, poisoned, and eaten by worms. A little bit of blood is shown, and characters die. There's kissing and partial male nudity (no sensitive body parts shown). Infrequent language includes "s--t," "ass," and "hell." The story is about a drug known as "spice," but it's more of a thing for everyone to fight over than a real drug. While this (long) movie isn't without its flaws, director Denis Villeneuve gives it a languid smoothness that makes for an enthralling tale. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In this first of two Dune movies, director Denis Villeneuve smooths out the most cumbersome parts of Frank Herbert's original tale, providing enough spectacle to overcome the dull bits. With echoes of his earlier films Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve brings a languid moodiness to the storytelling here, slowing things down and allowing viewers time to take in the vast sets (built broad and low to fit the widescreen frame) and devices -- like the amazing, if impractical, ships modeled after dragonflies -- and to keep track of the story's innumerable characters. This rhythm builds to the tale's memorable, invigorating highlights -- such as Paul dodging a life-threatening hunter-seeker or enduring the painful gom jabbar test, or the first appearance of the massive sandworms -- and makes them feel extra vivid.
The movie even manages to soften the old, tired "chosen one" device, as well as the simplistic plot strands that are covered up by heaps of sci-fi names (how do you pronounce "Thufir Hawat" anyway?), places, and devices, making things flow more organically. It's even possible to remember that the original novel, published in 1965, actually inspired much that came after it, including Star Wars and The Matrix. Villeneuve can't quite downplay the source material's choking seriousness, but there are lighter moments. Skarsgard's Baron is a highlight; he's so grotesque that you can't look away. And then there's a swaggering Jason Momoa as swordmaster Duncan, who seems to be the only one having any fun. As with Blade Runner 2049, Dune goes on too long, with too many scenes of fighting, and this version lacks the quirky personality of the 1984 David Lynch take, but it's far more rousing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.