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The Jaguar Journal

The Jaguar Journal

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Lost in Translation
Dune written by Frank Herbert, Cover art by Matt Griffin

Originally Published in the March 8th Print Publication

In 1965, Frank Herbert released Dune, the first novel in a long sci-fi saga that would later come to be revered as a modern classic and best-seller. On October 22nd, 2021, director Denis Villeneuve released Dune: Part One, the first movie he based off of this well-known and, frankly, profitable book series. But does the movie series really live up to the legacy of this renowned book series? Or are the movies just a shameless money-grab, a capitalistic venture to profit off of this beloved book series?

The answer is somewhere in between. Obviously, the first book is far too long a story to be told in one movie. Thus, the logical decision would be to either split the book into multiple movies or air a tv-series instead, to maximize profit and ensure that no part of the plot is omitted.

However, to call the Dune movie franchise a “cash-grab” simply based on that fact alone fails to be objective. After all, the budget for the Dune: Part One alone was $165 million, and the budget for Dune: Part Two, which released March 1st, 2024, was $190 million. To put that into perspective, the average budget for a big screen release is around $100 million. There was obvious money put into the production of the series, and for Dune: Part Two to break even, it would need to rake in $380 million. To be considered successful, this film would have to make at least $475 million to profit.

But let’s talk ratings. The reviews for Dune: Part One were generally favorable, with the film holding an 8.0/10 on IMDb based on 771k reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, Dune has also garnered an 83% on their Tomatometer, undoubtedly making itself a successful movie in terms of reviews.

So does the movie series live up to the hype, as well as the legacy of the novels? The answer for me is a resounding no. While there may have been effort and money put into the movies, ultimately, the pacing and timing of the movies is simply off. By splitting the story into many different parts, the movies takes away a part of the magic in reading a long saga.

Additionally, it takes vasts amounts of effort in itself to establish the worldview of the Dune series, something that the movies cannot necessarily do without sacrificing a part of the plot. However, if one was to do away with the plot and choose to spend more time on worldbuilding, there would need to be more or longer movies, which would increase the budget dramatically.

So should you go to theaters to watch Dune: Part Two? Maybe, if you liked Dune: Part One or the cast. But if you are like me, and you’ve read some of the book and are not particularly fond of the cast or production team, I have a feeling that you will be disappointed.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Yu, Editor
Isabella Yu Opinions and Editorials Editor Like a small Chihuahua, small and annoying but we still love having her around
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