I Have One Question for Dune

Where the hell is Zendaya?

10/25/2021 4:56:00 PM

“I feel betrayed, lied to, absolutely bamboozled by Dune ,” writes katja_vujic

Where the hell is Zendaya?

Well, the sweeping sci-fi epic co-starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and a giant butthole worm that we have been promised since Vanity Fair’s April 2020 first look is finally here. With one of the hottest casts in recent memory, the new adaptation of Dune begins majestically, with desert landscapes and a concise, situating history of the Dune-verse, narrated by Zendaya’s character, Chani, along with a few ethereal shots of her looking extremely wise — exciting to me, because Zendaya is ultimately the reason I, personally, decided to watch Dune.

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Here’s the thing: I was entirely unfamiliar with the Dune franchise before Zendaya entered the picture, and I’ve never been hugely into sci-fi, preferring to enter slightly more cheerful fantasy realms like Ella Enchanted, Aquamarine, and Shrek 2. But when the promotional shots of a windswept, glowing Zendaya (and, sure, other hot people) began to proliferate, I knew Dune was the sci-fi bandwagon I was destined to jump onto. Sadly, my early satisfaction with the Zendaya-centric opening scene did not last long.

This is necessary context for those of you who may be displeased by what I’m about to say: I feel betrayed, lied to, absolutely bamboozled by Dune. For the majority of the approximately two and a half hours I spent watching it, I was waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Okay, cute that Timmy keeps dreaming about her, I thought to myself. I’m sure she’ll show up soon. She did not show up until about two hours and 20 minutes into the film. Overall, we are blessed with her countenance for maybe 15 minutes in total, counting the mystical dream sequences in which she doesn’t speak, but does commit murder, which seemed about right to me. headtopics.com

Now, maybe those of you who were already big Dune-heads will be fully aware of this going into the film. Maybe this Zendaya-less composition lines up perfectly with how the book is written. I simply do not know. But what I do know is that, for the average Zendaya fan, this epic film seemed like a great opportunity to watch her excel at her craft. Based on press, the trailer, and Twitter, I had the distinct impression that we would be spending the majority of Dune watching two people with amazing bone structure fight bad guys and potentially fall in love. Maybe together, they’re just too powerful. Whatever it is, I want to warn my fellow Zendaya admirers that Dune is really for the Timmy stans.

Based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name, the Dune-verse is a multiplanetary society with complex rules and customs, and the confusing plot revolves around what happens when an emperor entrusts Timmy’s (okay, Paul Atreides in the film) father, a duke from the House Atreides played by Oscar Isaac and his gorgeous, perfectly trimmed beard, with leaving his home planet of Caladan in order to rule over the planet Arrakis, which is where Zendaya lives.

The native people of Arrakis are called Fremen, and have been subject to violent imperialism by other planet-nations, which have colonized it to mine its extremely valuable resource, “spice,” for centuries. Upon the arrival of the Atreides family and their “We won’t treat you like those other guys did” white-savior energy, it becomes clear that it was all a ploy to make them vulnerable to attack from OG colonizers, the emperor and his Sardaukar military. Much violence ensues, and soon Timmy and his extremely powerful mom, played by Rebecca Ferguson, are on their own in the vast desert.

Okay, so Zendaya’s role in Dune was not as a co-star but as a feature. That’s not to say, of course, that she doesn’t absolutely dominate every scene she’s in. Her star power is palpable; Dune simply refuses to let it steer. Her narration at the start strikes a perfect balance of ancestral knowledge about her home and general annoyance with having to tell the story that’s being told. Warm, vibrant appearances as a mysterious, mostly wordless Chani in Prince Timmy’s dreams are a welcome respite from the stony, emotionally stunted vibe of the world he inhabits while awake, injecting energy into an otherwise draining cinematic experience. headtopics.com

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Director Denis Villeneuve has said that he made changes to the source material, like making Paul’s mother, Jessica, a more powerful and prominent character and making planetologist Liet Kynes a woman instead of a man. This is a situation where I truly think it would have been fine to take some creative liberties. Like, what was Zendaya up to while Timothée was having his little Hamlet moment? She’s a Fremen, and we’re on the Fremen’s native planet, and yet we spend very little time in any Fremen communities!

When we do finally meet Zendaya/Chani in the flesh and not in a dream sequence, in the final ten minutes or so, she doesn’t disappoint. She’s quietly kind without being friendly to newcomers Paul and Jessica, and her chemistry with Chalamet is immediately palpable, particularly when she hands him a gorgeous “crysknife,” telling him he deserves to die with honor, even though he is the embodiment of the “next oppressor” she references in the introductory narration. Her powerful presence begins and ends the film, and will apparently feature far more prominently in the sequel, if there is one.

Villeneuve’s response to critiques of Dune’s white saviorism has been that the film is itself a critique of white saviorism, but it is odd that the majority of screen time is given to said white saviors. The critique he speaks of is less “trying to rule over a planet you literally just arrived on and know nothing about is a bad idea” and more “oppression is bad, but becoming ruler of a planet you just arrived on is fine as long as you also appropriate that planet’s culture and fall in love with one of its native people.” Pocahontas would like a word, I think.

Read more: The Cut »

katja_vujic Whoever wrote and edited this should have pushed this as a Zendaya fan post rather than make it read like a movie review, because if the sole purpose of this article was to weigh the artistic value of the film to the amount of screentime Zendaya has then it's rubbish. Not to worry she features more prominently in the 2nd half of the book, which is what the movie part 2 will be based on DunePartTwo Dune

The costume design is magnificent in this movie. katja_vujic Even for NYMag this is some bottom of the barrel “reporting”. Does an editor even read these articles before they’re posted? katja_vujic katja_vujic Zendaya is Bruce the shark. katja_vujic This is quite literally the worst film review I’ve ever read and I truly hope that I am missing the fact that it is satire

katja_vujic this is so embarrassing katja_vujic rofl katja_vujic could you publish an article that is just this person, like, walking us through what she wants out of movies, or how she understands, like, fiction katja_vujic Perhaps she can grasp this:

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katja_vujic Dune Part one covered 2/3 of the first book. A boy dreams of a woman and getting to her becomes his driving force. He grows up passes puberty and space wondering about her. That is why it ends when he and his mother were given to her. He arrived at his happy place by her side. katja_vujic Please stop letting people who don’t know anything about journalism write for you. It’s embarrassing

katja_vujic If you're going to complain about anything, complain about how they did Lady Jessica dirty. katja_vujic Y'all jumping on the author as if every single promo for this movie wasn't riding on Zendaya's shoulders. She's right- regardless of where the character is in the book or how u liked the movie, it was HEAVILY promoted as staring the two of em- and it doesn't, it stars one of em.

katja_vujic Same vibes katja_vujic How do these people get work? In all seriousness this article should never have been published, let alone written katja_vujic katja_vujic I’ve read more insightful thoughts in Bazooka Joe comics. Atrocious writing. katja_vujic She says she hates Sci-fi, and prefers movies made for pre-teen girls.

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katja_vujic Dune fans are making the mistake of justifying the movie by saying 'it's only Part 1'. You'll lose that argument every time. I'm not a huge Dune fan, but I like the movie alot and it was great the way it was. katja_vujic Imagine going to see Dune for Zendaya. Boggles the mind. katja_vujic Complete disinterest in the genre should have disqualified this review but what’s worse is it reads like a tweens obsessive fan girl blog post about an actress. NY Mag should be embarrassed for publishing this.

katja_vujic Why does this article exist? katja_vujic Sounds like a YP. katja_vujic katja_vujic Ok, the “I was entirely unfamiliar with the Dune franchise before Zedanya entered the picture…” should have made the editor toss this article and looked for someone who is. Because it’s not about the actress, it’s about the story. And character she plays is BIG in the next part.

katja_vujic New York Magazine actually paid for this “review.” katja_vujic Had to stop reading this idiotic dribble. Read a book once in awhile, especially one that is so important to a movie you are reviewing. katja_vujic

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katja_vujic Gonna have to wait for the Zendaya cut katja_vujic Very boring movie. It was a waste of money and time katja_vujic This review is an embarrassment to journalism. You should feel shame at having wrote it and published it. katja_vujic Very shallow reporting. katja_vujic this is so embarrassing

katja_vujic katja_vujic What is this latest nonsense now? Oh it’s just journalists making a living from writing on things they know nothing about and have done no research on. katja_vujic It's amazing what people get paid to write 🤦‍♂️ katja_vujic Sigh. Can you at least google the cliff notes of dune before you write this shit? That’s too much to ask? Research? You can still not like it or have a problem with it. You don’t have to like it. Just do 5 seconds of research after the movie, before the article.

katja_vujic I love bamboozled. Has something to do with being confused by fawns.

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katja_vujic Somebody didn't do their homework. katja_vujic Did somebody pay you to write that? katja_vujic 58 minutes of Zandaya dreams just isn't enough. oh please. katja_vujic Yeah, Chani doesn't show up in the book until almost 400 pages in either, so this movie's in line with that perfectly. You'll be seeing a LOT of her in the sequel, don't you worry!

katja_vujic Part Two, Katja. She's in Dune: Part 2: 2 Dune or Not to Dune (Oct. 2023). You're welcome. katja_vujic “Associate Snapchat editor” let me go jack myself off katja_vujic 'for the average Zendaya fan...' Grow up will you? And wait for part 2. katja_vujic Bruh it's just a movie He probably feels cheated.

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katja_vujic Only half of the story was told in the film that is why it is Dune Part One. It's the same way in the original book. Paul dreams about her all the time before he meets her. katja_vujic They practically sold the movie in her name. katja_vujic Wow, wait until you hear how the rest of Dune Part II goes.

katja_vujic Why is this allowed katja_vujic katja_vujic What a pointless review. Dune is not a Zendaya film (I know, she is a brilliant actress), it's an ensemble (much like a Star Wars film). Dune is bloody brilliant, I'd say even a masterpiece. See it. katja_vujic If the movie was meant to be about zandaya it would have been called zendaya. It’s not. Get over it and yourself.

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