The Sci-Fi Thriller Epic On Netflix That’s A Modern Masterpiece

By Robert Scucci | Updated

Dune (2021)

Dune is now available for streaming, and you can watch it in all of its glory on Netflix. Considered by many to be the most faithful adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel of the same name, Dune took home countless awards in 2021, including six Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and five British Academy Film Awards.

Though it goes without question that watching Dune on the big screen is the way to go, streaming is the next best thing, and thankfully the storytelling in this masterpiece is just as profound as its special effects.

Set on the desert planet of Arrakis, Dune centers on Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), who experiences troubling visions of a future holy war when exposed to spice melange, a psychotropic substance that gives its subjects heightened awareness and vitality.

Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Dune

Paul boasts a unique heritage, as he is the son of Lady Jessica, who is an acolyte of the Bene Gesserit, an exclusive sisterhood that has advanced mental and physical abilities. Through Paul’s alliance with the native Fremen, and his heightened prescience, he realizes that he is central to a larger destiny, and tasked with fulfilling his father’s goal of bringing peace to Arrakis.

Considered by many to be the most faithful adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel of the same name, Dune took home countless awards in 2021, including six Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and five British Academy Film Awards.

This adaptation of Dune had been in development since 2011, when Legendary Entertainment acquired adaptation rights of the Frank Herbert novel. In 2016, film and TV rights were acquired, and director Denis Villeneuve expressed interest in working on the Dune film, but he was officially confirmed to be attached to the project in 2017 after working on Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.

Having stated that it was one of his lifelong dreams to work on a Dune adaptation, Villeneuve wanted to have plenty of time to develop and co-write the film so that he could do justice to the source material.

dune 2 cast
Dune (2021)

During development, Villeneuve stated that he wanted Dune to be adapted into a two-part series, and secured a two-movie deal with Warner Bros. Pictures. Given how robust the source material is, he felt that he couldn’t properly tell the story if he only made one movie.

This could have been a risky move because a sequel getting green-lit often hinges on the success of the first film, but thanks to Villeneuve’s direction, and how well-received the film was on both the critical and commercial fronts, Dune: Part Two was announced in October 2021, shortly after Dune’s release.

Other Dune Adaptations Missed The Mark

The release of Dune finally proved that a monolithic piece of science-fiction literature could be successfully adapted into a feature film. While David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation was not without ambition, it did not perform well, and was eventually disowned by Lynch himself after being poorly received on both the commercial and critical front, earning a 44 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes. Among the most scathing reviews, it has been said that the 1984 adaptation all but proved that Frank Herbert’s novel was beyond adaptation.

Though the 2000 John Harrison Dune miniseries was one of the highest-rated programs to ever be broadcast on the sci-fi channel, there still wasn’t a successful film adaptation at this point.

2021‘s Dune proved the impossible, and through Villeneuve’s direction, an ensemble cast featuring Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Issac, Josh Brolin, and Zendaya, and superior visual storytelling, the film was well-received on all fronts.

As of this writing, Dune boasts an 83 percent critical score against a 90 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and earned an impressive $402 million against its reported production budget of $165 million.

Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two will pick up where Dune left off, and filming for the upcoming sequel wrapped in December 2022. Villeneuve has stated that Part Two will be more of an epic war movie compared to Dune, which was more of a contemplative film that established the storyline. In addition to the ensemble cast that we’re by now familiar with, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, and Lea Seydoux will also appear in Part Two.

Though we’ll have to wait a little longer for Dune: Part Two to be released, we see this as a good thing. Dune is so dense in its storytelling that you’re probably going to watch it 10 or 12 times, before Part Two premieres in March 2024.