Here's a roundup of reactions:
Villeneuve’s film is somehow plodding and hurried at once, flurries of exposition and table-setting ringing around set-piece monoliths." Even 'Arrival,' his most successful big-budget film, groans under the tremendous onus of his construction. "With 'Dune,' Villeneuve has the chance to right the wrongs of David Lynch’s 1984 misfire (a misfire according to some, anyway) and truly honor Herbert’s text. He’s an overloader, and only the keenest and most urgent of scripts can survive beneath that weight. But Villenueve can’t help but lacquer it all up into something hyper polished and hard to the touch. 'Dune,' unfortunately, is not one of those. Maybe the source material, with its unending glossary of terms describing places, peoples, religious traditions, and political systems, is just too dense to hone into something cinematically agile.
#Dune is a visual spectacle. A new world is born for people like me, with no knowledge of the source material, and an achievement by Denis Villeneuve. Suspect Oscar noms in every tech category, director, picture. It opens with title card DUNE PART ONE. We better get PART TWO. pic.twitter.com/SkwjJCTlBo
— Clayton Davis (@ByClaytonDavis) September 3, 2021
Loughrey found lots to love in the new adaptation, tweeting that "'Dune' absolutely fucking slaps."
IGN: Scott Collura
Empire's Travis seemed truly thrilled by the ride and is hoping for a sequel. That's not to say the reviews were overwhelmingly negative.
"This is a technically brilliant, visually amazing movie with a top-notch cast and deep sci-fi concepts. A shame, then, that it feels like a drag in its back half."
Indiewire: David Ehrlich
It is a film of such literal and emotional largeness that it overwhelms the senses. "Villeneuve’s 'Dune' is the sandworm exploding out from the darkness below. If all goes well, it should reinvigorate the book’s legacy in the same way Peter Jackson’s 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy did for JRR Tolkien’s work."
So far, critics are excited about the scope and scale of the feature, but don't seem convinced that Villeneuve stuck the landing story-wise.
What did the first critics to lay eyes on the latest version of the sandworm have to say? Does the spice flow for "Dune"? After being delayed for more than a year, the Frank Herbert adaptation was finally unleashed to a small crowd of festival-goers, journalists and critics.
Denis Villeneuve’s #Dune is made for the fans, without feeling purely like fan-service. Go for the stunning visuals and the heartfelt performances by Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson & Oscar Isaac. And worth noting — Jason Momoa steals every scene as Duncan Idaho, what a star.
— Angelique Jackson (@angelique814) September 3, 2021
Ravenous sci-fi fanatics waited with bated breath as cast members Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Rebecca Ferguson and Javier Bardem walked down the Venice Film Festival red carpet before the first-ever screening on Friday. The first reviews for Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" are in, and the reactions are split.
.@dunemovie is spectacular. Denis Villeneuve has crafted a visual masterpiece. Greig Fraser’s cinematography is a sight to be seen,simply gorgeous. You can’t take your eyes off the screen. Timothée Chalamet is outstanding. Don't be surprised by a crafts sweep pic.twitter.com/MDUAWDs3GF
— Jazz Tangcay (@jazzt) September 3, 2021
Empire: Ben Travis
Vanity Fair: Richard Lawson
The Independent: Clarisse Loughrey
#Dune is fantastic. I went in knowing nothing and was completely hypnotized by the strange world. It’s thrilling and emotionally authentic and, I don’t know, it was 8:15AM in Italy and I was overtired and three espressos in, but I even cried?
— Lindsey Bahr (@ldbahr) September 3, 2021
According to him, it was not. Lawson hoped that the new movie would be a chance to re-set "Dune" from it's much-maligned, former film adaptation.
"Here’s one useful definition of a great sci-fi fantasy film. In the first two 'Star Wars' films, those dynamics were in perfect sync; they were, as well, in 'The Dark Knight' and the 'Mad Max' films. 'Blade Runner,' in its way, is an amazing movie, but its world-building packs more punch than its transcendental neo-noir noodlings. It’s one in which the world-building is awesome but not more essential than the storytelling. Viewed in that light, 'Dune' is a movie that earns five stars for world-building and about two-and-a-half for storytelling."
until it isn't." Gleiberman wrote that "Dune" is "spectacular and engrossing …
Meanwhile, the social media takes were overwhelmingly positive:
Such are the pitfalls of making a movie so large that not even its director can see around the sets." "For all of Villeneuve’s awe-inducing vision, he loses sight of why Frank Herbert’s foundational sci-fi opus is worthy of this epic spectacle in the first place.
Collura was also let down by the second act of "Dune."
"An absorbing, awe-inspiringly huge adaptation of (half of) Frank Herbert’s novel that will wow existing acolytes, and get newcomers hooked on its Spice-fuelled visions. If Part Two never happens, it’ll be a travesty."
Ehrlich had a slightly colder take, calling hype "the mind-killer" and tweeting that the pic was a "massive disappointment."
I’ve watched #Dune & it’s among the most immersive moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had w/ a sci-fi film. There is masterful filmmaking on display here. When paired w/ its big, monstrous sound, the film wondrously transports you to a new, exciting, horrific yet beautiful world pic.twitter.com/Z0oNUJbiNE
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) September 3, 2021
Variety: Owen Gleiberman