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For the love of movies: The Past, Present, and Future of Cinema and what makes us fans (1 Viewer)

Joe Wong

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When I went to see The Force Awakens I had a good time. I am not a Star Wars super fan so, again, I did not go in and pick it all apart. I went with some super fans and they had issues with it. Particularly, what happens with Han and that all Luke does is a quick cameo. These things they did not like at all.

What I noticed watching the next two films was it seemed really obvious that they had not treated this project as a three film trilogy and mapped the out the ebb and flow and arc of the whole thing. The second film swerves off in an odd direction and the final film almost seems as if it wants to ignore the second film. I just could not grasp why they took this approach to a big, expensive, important project that, for the company, a lot was riding on. It seemed pretty half assed.

So, by the time I got to the end of the trilogy I felt like there was no satisfying resolve for the three major characters they had return. It was almost as if they really did not want to do much with them and instead the goal was to use the new characters to make more films. Problem with that was after doing three Star Wars films the new characters did not want to make anymore Star Wars films.

I also don't think the new characters are anywhere near as beloved as Han, Luke, and Leia. So, to me, they bungled the films in the writing. I mean unless Harrison Ford demanded to only have to shoot one film or something, that was an absurd way to handle that character. Luke is not even dealt with in the first film and is oddly handled when he does appear. It just seemed like bad writing and poor planning and too much thought that the new characters would take over the show.

Agree with many of your points.

I'm not a super-fan, either. I didn't mind what what they did with Han or Luke in the first one. Especially if the reasons are that Harrison Ford was sick of Star Wars and was coming back out of obligation (or pay check), and that JJ Abrams said that having Luke in most of the first film would have taken attention away from the 3 new characters.

What happened in the 2nd was a series of missed opportunities. You have Luke, the McGuffin of the first film, and the most powerful Jedi now left, and you strand him on an island? I don't mind his character now being withdrawn and angry, but someone like Rey could have turned him back. He should have had much more participation in the conflict. I even jotted down an alternative plot where the bad guys discover Luke's location and there's a massive final battle on the islands and oceans of the planet he's on. Luke may not want to be drawn back in, but he is forced to. And Rey and him could have some great tag-team action scenes, using the full powers of the Force.

And then Jon Boyega's Finn. I found him to be charismatic, fun, and with lots of potential after TFA. And what happens in the 2nd? He goes on some meaningless, boring mission, and his charisma is turned way down.

I could go on and on... but those are some glaring issues I have with the 2nd film.
 

BobO'Link

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My biggest issue with the final Star Wars trilogy is simply that they, for all practical purposes, just did a remake of the original trilogy, changing things just enough that it wasn't obvious to truly casual fans. I'm a pretty casual fan of the series and noticed immediately the many, many, things mirrored from the first in that final trilogy. I'm probably in the minority in that I'd rather watch Episodes 1-3 instead of 7-9 in spite of the many issues I have with that middle trilogy.
 

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My biggest issue with the final Star Wars trilogy is simply that they, for all practical purposes, just did a remake of the original trilogy, changing things just enough that it wasn't obvious to truly casual fans. I'm a pretty casual fan of the series and noticed immediately the many, many, things mirrored from the first in that final trilogy. I'm probably in the minority in that I'd rather watch Episodes 1-3 instead of 7-9 in spite of the many issues I have with that middle trilogy.
It's worth pointing out that mirroring things is something that deliberately happens in all the Star Wars movies. Lawrence Kasdan wanted The Force Awakens to be similar to previous movies because things repeating is common in all nine of the movies. It's perfectly fine for people to not like that they're similar but it's not something they tried to hide or sneak by, it was by design.
 

BobO'Link

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It's worth pointing out that mirroring things is something that deliberately happens in all the Star Wars movies. Lawrence Kasdan wanted The Force Awakens to be similar to previous movies because things repeating is common in all nine of the movies. It's perfectly fine for people to not like that they're similar but it's not something they tried to hide or sneak by, it was by design.
That may be. IMHO, that being done makes them *less* attractive. It's one reason I rarely watch any of them outside the original trilogy. I find the non-core movies (Solo and Rogue One) to be far more interesting as they're not simple retreads.
 
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Reggie W

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That may be. IMHO, that being done makes them *less* attractive. It's one reason I rarely watch any of them outside the original trilogy. I find the non-core movies (Solo and Rogue One) to be far more interesting as they're not simple retreads.

When they set out to do one of these big fan franchise pictures they have a few things to consider. Obviously, they want to do things that cater to the fans. They want to create some sort of recognizable universe where the story is taking place. There should be a look and feel to things that allows fans to think "Yes, I am back in the Star Wars universe."

In all honesty, I think they consider these things first and the actual story is considered after these things. Personally, I think this is the wrong approach. In order to write for Ford, Fisher, and Hamill you had to have them onboard first. If you spent money writing three scripts that included their characters before getting them signed-up to do the pictures well, you could be wasting time and money if one or more of them says they are not interested.

Star Wars is a bit different than superhero pictures because the actors are more important in this case. They are specific to the roles. Ford is Solo, Hamill is Skywalker, and Fisher is Leia. If you recast these parts for the final trilogy people would be bothered by that. With a superhero, just put someone that looks good in the suit in the role.

Plus Star Wars came out of a time when actors mattered so, the actors here still mattered to fans that watched the original films when they came out.

Next you have Disney taking over the franchise and they want new characters to make more movies with. So, they did not just want the older crew from the first three pictures, they wanted some younger people to hopefully hook younger moviegoers.

This was how they looked to maximize the audience.

Then they threw in the new "inclusion" standards, which they openly said they were going to do. So, female characters could not and would not be princesses. They had to be strong commanding women that were not being saved by men. They had to have black and Asian characters have larger roles. So, before story, they had to check these boxes. And they did.

That's all fine but it was done in such a ham fisted manner people easily spotted what they were doing and it irked some of them. People don't pay to see inclusion, they pay to see good stories and characters.

JJ Abrams is basically the director equivalent of a great cover band. He knows how to play the greatest hits but is not much for originality. What he did in the first film basically worked. Sure, the film hung its hat on the outline of the first Star Wars film but that was the point. They wanted it to all feel that familiar. Basically, this is how these guys write these things now. Prometheus was essentially just a remake of Alien with a different introduction tacked on. Then you just play all the same beats and notes.

I think this is the result of the story coming last in these type of productions and that mostly what they want them to do is feel familiar because familiar sells the best.
 

TravisR

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Then they threw in the new "inclusion" standards, which they openly said they were going to do. So, female characters could not and would not be princesses. They had to be strong commanding women that were not being saved by men. They had to have black and Asian characters have larger roles. So, before story, they had to check these boxes. And they did.

That's all fine but it was done in such a ham fisted manner people easily spotted what they were doing and it irked some of them. People don't pay to see inclusion, they pay to see good stories and characters.
I'm generally on the same page as you but I'm going to have to say that I totally disagree with you here. Abrams is a master at casting (look at his TV shows and Star Trek movies) and whatever the race or gender of the new actors in the Star Wars sequel trilogies, they were all very likable actors. The Force Awakens doesn't reintroduce any old characters until 45 minutes or so into the movie and by that time, you're already fully onboard with the new guys too because the characters are fun and the actors won the audience over.
 

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I'm generally on the same page as you but I'm going to have to say that I totally disagree with you here. Abrams is a master at casting (look at his TV shows and Star Trek movies) and whatever the race or gender of the new actors in the Star Wars sequel trilogies, they were all very likable actors. The Force Awakens doesn't reintroduce any old characters until 45 minutes or so into the movie and by that time, you're already fully onboard with the new guys too because the characters are fun and the actors won the audience over.

Yes, I had no issues with it when I saw it, however, as we saw with all the internet tantrums a bunch of people did. I did see them directly comment on these items, like the "no princesses" rule and including other races more prominently. I'm sure Abrhams could still cast the actors he liked from those racial requirements.

I thought the actors were likable but it was obvious what they were doing. They did not do anything to make the characters race specific outside of just casting people that looked the way they preferred they looked. I think that's all fine but people will spot it. The overreaction to it was ridiculous because, again, new fictional characters they can look however they look. Stormtroopers don't all have to look like Daniel Craig.
 

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Funny you should ask. Ta-Nehisi Coates is currently writing a Superman script for J.J. Abrams (as producer, but not director) in which Superman will be black. And not an alternate version of Superman, as there is in the comics.

Your comments seem to become more and more relevant the more I learn. I just read today that the character that Chris Pratt plays, Star Lord, is bisexual in the comic books. So, I imagine the scene with Thor staring into his eyes can have additional meaning...and that will probably piss some people off.
 

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When I went to see The Force Awakens I had a good time. I am not a Star Wars super fan so, again, I did not go in and pick it all apart. I went with some super fans and they had issues with it. Particularly, what happens with Han and that all Luke does is a quick cameo. These things they did not like at all.

What I noticed watching the next two films was it seemed really obvious that they had not treated this project as a three film trilogy and mapped the out the ebb and flow and arc of the whole thing. The second film swerves off in an odd direction and the final film almost seems as if it wants to ignore the second film. I just could not grasp why they took this approach to a big, expensive, important project that, for the company, a lot was riding on. It seemed pretty half assed.

So, by the time I got to the end of the trilogy I felt like there was no satisfying resolve for the three major characters they had return. It was almost as if they really did not want to do much with them and instead the goal was to use the new characters to make more films. Problem with that was after doing three Star Wars films the new characters did not want to make anymore Star Wars films.

I also don't think the new characters are anywhere near as beloved as Han, Luke, and Leia. So, to me, they bungled the films in the writing. I mean unless Harrison Ford demanded to only have to shoot one film or something, that was an absurd way to handle that character. Luke is not even dealt with in the first film and is oddly handled when he does appear. It just seemed like bad writing and poor planning and too much thought that the new characters would take over the show.
I grew up in the heart of the Star Wars world, since the first one was released the summer before I turned 14.

What I don't understand is this belief that the whole thing is some sort of profound, life altering Shakespearean vision. It's basically pulp that exceeded its grasp. The only thing in the entire series that genuinely annoyed me was Jar Jar.

What I find interesting is the single movie I do see as profound is Rogue One, which I do find to be distinctly Shakespearean, and by far the most cinematic of them all. It is, hands down, my favorite of the series. Of course, it also seems to garner some of the most hatred. Not at all surprising to me.
 

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What I don't understand is this belief that the whole thing is some sort of profound, life altering Shakespearean vision. It's basically pulp that exceeded its grasp.
You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger Star Wars fan than me and even I chuckle when I see people hold up The Empire Strikes Back as one of the finest movies ever made (it's not even the best Star Wars movie). I love the Star Wars movies but I like to think that I also hold a balanced view of their place in the art form of movies.


What I find interesting is the single movie I do see as profound is Rogue One, which I do find to be distinctly Shakespearean, and by far the most cinematic of them all. It is, hands down, my favorite of the series. Of course, it also seems to garner some of the most hatred. Not at all surprising to me.
The somewhat negative response to Rogue One upon its release seems to have turned around in under five years because I frequently see many people cite it as one of the best of the entire series now. Personally, I think the first half of the movie is a little shaky but the second hour is so good that it's a very exciting movie overall.
 

Reggie W

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I grew up in the heart of the Star Wars world, since the first one was released the summer before I turned 14.

What I don't understand is this belief that the whole thing is some sort of profound, life altering Shakespearean vision. It's basically pulp that exceeded its grasp. The only thing in the entire series that genuinely annoyed me was Jar Jar.

What I find interesting is the single movie I do see as profound is Rogue One, which I do find to be distinctly Shakespearean, and by far the most cinematic of them all. It is, hands down, my favorite of the series. Of course, it also seems to garner some of the most hatred. Not at all surprising to me.

I was 10 when Star Wars was released. Like most ten-year-old boys, I loved it. Back then I don't recall the picture being thought of as a life changing event. What I recall being the big deal with it were the "special effects" which were seen at the time as a leap forward and very exciting. I recall that being the huge draw of the film. The sort of hilarious aspect of that is you can no longer see the film as it was presented when it was first released, preserving these famous special effects. This was, at that time, what made the film historic and important. Now we see the film altered, with new effects, and with a new title "A New Hope" and really the importance of the original film has been intentionally erased.

Obviously, over the years Star Wars became a touchstone film. Now it is basically seen as the father of the big franchise event picture. This also was not how the original film was regarded. We did not know when it was released that it would become a franchise or a 9 film saga. Much of the charm of the first couple Star Wars films have been erased by 6 other pictures that really are nowhere near as good as the first two films were.

Also, I think having so much Star Wars has killed the joy of the original films. Also, as an adult you become aware of the desire to wring as much cash out of this "universe" as they can. That kind of kills things too.

My wife is a much bigger Star Wars fan than I am. I mean, I still love the first two films and enjoy the third film even though it was not as good as Star Wars and Empire, in my opinion.

I would love to see the original Star Wars restored to the way it was shown when it was first released.

My wife and I went to see Rogue One at the cinema. I think so much of Star Wars for me goes back to 1977 and so this new group of characters and the story did not have me hooked. I think my wife thought it was OK but also associates Star Wars with the characters from the original films.

It is kind of like Star Trek without Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. I've never been able to get much into the new shows or films where they are not involved.

Perhaps Rogue One is better because it is free of having to find a way to work the old characters in and can just do the universe without having to worry about getting old characters right.
 

Capt D McMars

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Any time a woman or any minority gets the spotlight in a franchise movie, there's a small segment of usually white male "fans" that go berserk (death and/or rape threats, unending online ranting and raving) simply because a woman, etc. has gotten the spotlight in what they see as their movies. Whether it's entertainment or politics, that's become the standard reaction from today's scared bigots on the internet when someone that is different from them gets attention.
I remember the addige of "When you try to please eveyone, you end up pleasing No One!!!" If they would focus on a good storyine and chearactor development, like hey used to do. And stop relying solely on CGI and other green or blue screen effects to take over the films oxigen, we as viewers might find a better overall film to enjoy!!
 

Joe Wong

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The somewhat negative response to Rogue One upon its release seems to have turned around in under five years because I frequently see many people cite it as one of the best of the entire series now. Personally, I think the first half of the movie is a little shaky but the second hour is so good that it's a very exciting movie overall.

Agree about the shaky first half and very well done second half.

I'm not typically a fan of stories that go back in time, as it reduces the suspense. For example, with Rogue One, we already know the outcome of the mission. But the characters and their ultimate fates (plus the final battle) are what made the film stand out amongst the latest entries.
 

Walter Kittel

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My $0.02...

The Empire Strikes Back is a great film and is arguably the best film in the franchise. It offered up a glimpse of what the Star Wars series could have become, adult oriented galaxy spanning space opera that achieved some measure of emotional resonance. The more juvenile aspects of the franchise ( embodied in parts of Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace to a larger degree ) undercut the emotional stakes of the saga.

For me, Rogue One is the film that most closely resembles The Empire Strikes Back in terms of dramatic tension and overall effectiveness. Easily my favorite entry in the 'newer' films in the series.

I would agree (with John) that the meaningful interpretations of the Star Wars saga was a case of the tail wagging the dog. Basically an attempt to explain the popularity of the series in ways that were (at least for me) not originally intended. The original film was an attempt to revisit the serials of the 40s and became a pop culture phenomena.

While I understand the position, elucidated by Reggie, regarding the original characters being the element that draws him to the franchise; for me the series (and this includes Star Trek to a much larger degree) have expanded so far beyond the original scope of the establishing works that I tend to view the franchises more in terms of their frameworks vs. focusing on any group of individuals. Purely subjective of course, and perhaps it is a coping mechanism for me to continue to enjoy new stories in the respective settings. :)

- Walter.
 

JohnRice

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The somewhat negative response to Rogue One upon its release seems to have turned around in under five years because I frequently see many people cite it as one of the best of the entire series now. Personally, I think the first half of the movie is a little shaky but the second hour is so good that it's a very exciting movie overall.
The first half of Rogue One has a lot of nuts and bolts setup for the rest of the story. I have no problem with that. I'm actually baffled at the veracity of the hatred of it. That's just story telling on a more complex level than the Raiders of the Lost Ark (or the original Star Wars) practice of "knock my socks off with action from the opening scene." In my book, if the final payoff is a success, then the nuts and bolts of setting it up is also a success.
 

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Much of the charm of the first couple Star Wars films have been erased by 6 other pictures that really are nowhere near as good as the first two films were.

I was a big SW fan back in the day. It didn't really take the "6 other pictures" to sour me. I simply got Star Warsed out. I don't think I've seen even seen Hope and Empire since about the mid-90s.

My wife, however was still a fan, even through the dismal prequels. She wanted to go see the new films in the theater, so I agreed to go with her. I was indifferent to The Force Awakens because it copied too many of the narrative beats of A New Hope (much as Superman Returns did with Superman: The Movie). But I loved The Last Jedi and Rogue One. and have watched both of them several times. Force and Rise of Skywalker I've only seen the one time each.

My wife and I went to see Rogue One at the cinema. I think so much of Star Wars for me goes back to 1977 and so this new group of characters and the story did not have me hooked. I think my wife thought it was OK but also associates Star Wars with the characters from the original films.

It is kind of like Star Trek without Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. I've never been able to get much into the new shows or films where they are not involved.

Perhaps Rogue One is better because it is free of having to find a way to work the old characters in and can just do the universe without having to worry about getting old characters right.

I can't agree with you regarding the sets of characters in both Star Wars and Star Trek. I remember back when Star Trek: The Next Generation was on the horizon, and so many people were dissing it because "if it doesn't have Kirk and Spock, it's not Star Trek". I think that's short sighted. I can understand liking those characters (and the rest of the original crew) and wanting to see more of them, but I think the universe they built had so much room to explore with other characters, and wanted to see them stretch in different directions.

The SW sequel trilogy was an interesting case, because Lucas's original plan was to do nine films built around Luke Skywalker, so Disney felt that they couldn't not bring back the original trio of characters. But I found I was more interested in Rey, Poe, and Finn than Luke, Leia, and Han.

The MCU is only going to survive if it, too, diversifies its characters. Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Natasha Romanov have all left the stage, and they seem primed to introduce new characters with each new "phase". This is what will keep it going (for good or for ill).
 

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It didn't really take the "6 other pictures" to sour me. I simply got Star Warsed out. I don't think I've seen even seen Hope and Empire since about the mid-90s.

Yeah, I am not soured on Star Wars, I just think the law of diminishing returns applies or as you say, I'm Star Wars-ed out. Basically, it was exciting to see the first couple Star Wars films as a kid. That experience really can't be recreated as you get older. Plus, it really is the truth for me that the pictures just go downhill after the first two. The prequels Lucas made I thought lacked the energy of the first films and then by the time they got to doing the final 3, I just no longer had any great interest in seeing more Star Wars pictures.

The truth is by the time they got to Return of the Jedi in 1983 I had already pretty much lost a lot of interest. At that point I was more excited by pictures like Alien, Blade Runner, Close Encounters, and Outland. They were all bigger deals to me than the Star Wars films at that point. I was way more into 2010, the sequel to 2001, than I was into Return of the Jedi.

I've always, even as a kid, been more of a standalone film guy than a multiple sequel/prequel guy. For me, most of the sequels and prequels are just weaker versions of the first picture. It's a real rarity to get a great sequel like Godfather II (which was sequel and prequel) or Empire Strikes Back.

Plus, I feel like when you write a single story you have to do all the work in that one picture to make it a great tale. Even with Denis Villeneuve's Dune, and I have loved his pictures, the entire first film seems like prelude. So, you are sitting through two hours of set-up just to get to the second film. Which I honestly think will be a better film than the first one because it contains all of the payoff. That makes the first film, at least to me, fairly unsatisfying.

I think to do great sequels or prequels you need a really firm guiding hand that really knows how they want the extended story to play out. This seems to rarely exist with feature films.

Basically, everything I want from the Star Wars "universe" was delivered brilliantly and in spades in the very first two films. The third did a good job winding the whole thing down. I guess, for me, the excitement of Star Wars just can't be recreated.

I had fun seeing The Force Awakens. Part of that was when I went to it people were all dressed as characters and a giant person in a perfect Chewbacca costume slammed into me nearly knocking me down and I really felt like I was in the film. It was pretty awesome.
 

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Yeah, I am not soured on Star Wars, I just think the law of diminishing returns applies or as you say, I'm Star Wars-ed out. Basically, it was exciting to see the first couple Star Wars films as a kid. That experience really can't be recreated as you get older. Plus, it really is the truth for me that the pictures just go downhill after the first two. The prequels Lucas made I thought lacked the energy of the first films and then by the time they got to doing the final 3, I just no longer had any great interest in seeing more Star Wars pictures.

The truth is by the time they got to Return of the Jedi in 1983 I had already pretty much lost a lot of interest. At that point I was more excited by pictures like Alien, Blade Runner, Close Encounters, and Outland. They were all bigger deals to me than the Star Wars films at that point. I was way more into 2010, the sequel to 2001, than I was into Return of the Jedi.

I've always, even as a kid, been more of a standalone film guy than a multiple sequel/prequel guy. For me, most of the sequels and prequels are just weaker versions of the first picture. It's a real rarity to get a great sequel like Godfather II (which was sequel and prequel) or Empire Strikes Back.

Plus, I feel like when you write a single story you have to do all the work in that one picture to make it a great tale. Even with Denis Villeneuve's Dune, and I have loved his pictures, the entire first film seems like prelude. So, you are sitting through two hours of set-up just to get to the second film. Which I honestly think will be a better film than the first one because it contains all of the payoff. That makes the first film, at least to me, fairly unsatisfying.

I think to do great sequels or prequels you need a really firm guiding hand that really knows how they want the extended story to play out. This seems to rarely exist with feature films.

Basically, everything I want from the Star Wars "universe" was delivered brilliantly and in spades in the very first two films. The third did a good job winding the whole thing down. I guess, for me, the excitement of Star Wars just can't be recreated.

I had fun seeing The Force Awakens. Part of that was when I went to it people were all dressed as characters and a giant person in a perfect Chewbacca costume slammed into me nearly knocking me down and I really felt like I was in the film. It was pretty awesome.
Agreed, Before the "Franchise" mindset took over the movies, a good stand alone feature film was golden. You would never see The Adventures of Robin Hood 2 or 5 or Whatever!!
That being said, some stories requier more to flesh out the storyines. Point in case Star Wars was to be a trilogy, as was the Hobbit series.
What happened is that the movie industry has became like old TV used to be. The mindset that if one Western is successful, than why not 50? And we saw this with other genres as well, filling up the airwaves with multipule Dr Shows, Detective shows and degenerating into the grabag of "Real Life" programs, designed for the lowest common denominators.
 
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JohnRice

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Plus, I feel like when you write a single story you have to do all the work in that one picture to make it a great tale. Even with Denis Villeneuve's Dune, and I have loved his pictures, the entire first film seems like prelude. So, you are sitting through two hours of set-up just to get to the second film. Which I honestly think will be a better film than the first one because it contains all of the payoff. That makes the first film, at least to me, fairly unsatisfying.
But that's a completely different thing. He's making a five (plus) hour movie of one story. No studio would permit that in one installment. So, he has to do it the only way available. Why do I constantly see that complaint about Dune, but never about The Batman or the endless Marvel insanity of marketing? Or Kill Bill? Remember, technically, the title of the movie is Dune: Part 1.
 

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Pike Bishop
But that's a completely different thing. He's making a five (plus) hour movie of one story. No studio would permit that in one installment. So, he has to do it the only way available. Why do I constantly see that complaint about Dune, but never about The Batman or the endless Marvel insanity of marketing? Remember, technically, the title of the movie is Dune: Part 1.

Yes, due to the story he is telling, the first film, or first half of the entire story, has to play out in that first couple of hours. This is a case where I would find it cool if Denis cut the film into one long feature for home viewing. I don't mean it as a complaint because I think he is behind the 8 ball making the first film. Sure, the maximum length they really want a feature film to be is no longer than 2 hours and 17 minutes. So, if you have five hours of story, well, yes, that has to be more than one film. Dune is a dense and complex universe with a lot of things to lay out for the audience and so that first film, part one, is hard.

He does have the advantage that he is working from a novel, so the story is all mapped out and he knows what the ebb and flow is and needs to be. I get the sense that watching Dune 1 and 2 back to back, if you have the 6 hours to spare, will be the most satisfying way to view it. I mean the second half of the story is going to ramp way up. This is where taking novel to screen can be complex and why Dune is not an easy story to do that with.
 

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