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Dune's First Reviews Finally Confirm What Fans Suspected All Along

After several COVID-19 related delays, Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of the iconoclast sci-fi epic "Dune" has finally had its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival ahead of its October 22 release in theaters and on HBO Max.

The film is the latest attempt at successfully translating the epic scope and deep world-building of Frank Herbert's novel series to the screen. Fans of the books have been hopeful about the project, which was co-written by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Oscar-winner Eric Roth. The fact that the cast boasts talent like Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, and Zendaya, among others, has only fed that excitement.

Now that critics have seen the film and the reviews are coming in, has this new adaptation improved on the 2000 miniseries and the infamously disappointing 1984 David Lynch version?

According to Owen Gleiberman of Variety, "'Dune' is out to wow us, and sometimes succeeds, but it also wants to get under your skin like a hypnotically toxic mosquito. It does...until it doesn't."

Here's what else the critics are saying about the film.

Critics give Dune high marks for world-building, but some question the strength of the storytelling

At the time of writing, "Dune" has an 84% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and critics have found plenty to praise about the movie's visuals and world-building. However, some critics took issue with aspects of the narrative and overall tone.

Gleiberman, for example, wrote in his Variety review that "'Dune' is a movie that earns five stars for world-building and about two-and-a-half for storytelling." Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt had a similar take. Noting that the movie was meant to be Part I of a multi-part story, she concluded, "The sheer awesomeness of Villeneuve's execution ... often obscures the fact that the plot is mostly prologue: a sprawling origin story with no fixed beginning or end."

There were plenty of reviewers, however, who were enthusiastic about the film. Writing for The Wrap, Steve Pond declared, "Director Denis Villeneuve has succeeded in wrestling Frank Herbert's 1965 sci-fi classic 'Dune' to the big screen ..." Pond especially praised the craftmanship, writing, "'Dune' is a tour de force on every technical level, set to a towering Hans Zimmer score that matches the film's scale and import ..."

In a five-star review for The Guardian, Xan Brooks wrote, "Dune is dense, moody and quite often sublime – the missing link bridging the multiplex and the arthouse." In his own five-star review, Empire's Ben Travis said, "the overriding emotion Dune evokes really kicks in: a near-constant jaw-on-the-floor awe. The sense of scale conjured up is, from moment to moment, frequently astonishing."

But then on the flip side, Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair called the movie "somehow plodding and hurried at once" and ultimately concluded, "Dune lumbers with such aloof, uninviting self-seriousness that it's hard to love, hard to even celebrate as an assured piece of tentpole authorship."

You'll be able to judge for yourself when "Dune" hits theaters and HBO Max on October 22.