Skip to main content

Davis Journal

The Movie Guru: ‘Dune’ and ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ this week’s cinematic delights

Oct 22, 2021 08:42AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Credit for photo ©Warner Brothers

‘Dune’ (in theaters and on HBO Max)

The first important thing to know about Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” happens a few minutes into the movie. The title card appears on screen, then just beneath that a discreet “part one” that does’'t show up in any of the movie’s advertising. The publicity team apparently doesn’t want you to know this, but they’ve actually turned “Dune” into (what will likely be) a trilogy.

The second important thing to know is that they’ve done a really fantastic job of it. The new “Dune” is a sprawling, deeply engrossing introduction to a new world, where complex cultures and politics are anchored in beautifully nuanced characters. It might actually be more in-depth than the novel, taking time to build both a complex web of relationships and a degree of tension that will keep your eyes glued to the screen.

For those not familiar with the book, “Dune: Part One” feels like the science fiction version of “The Fellowship of the Ring.” This is the introduction to a new world, so finely rendered it feels like you could step into it. The cast is excellent, creating complicated characters you’re drawn to even if they’re not necessarily likable.

If you are familiar with the book, the movie will be agonizing in the best possible way. Though the end of the movie is normally seen as the larger story’s opening act, the journey “Dune: Part One” takes to get there will make it just as epic and searing as the first time you heard the story.

If you have ever loved “Dune,” or you think you could possibly love “Dune,” you need to see this adaptation. You won’t regret it.

Grade: Four stars

Ron’s Gone Wrong (in theaters)

At first glance, this movie seems like the most disposable kind of children’s movie. From the second I saw the trailers, I was sure I could lay out the entire plot in my head. Boy meets bot, bot causes hijinks, boy learns valuable life lesson.

Though those things do happen in “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” I'm delighted to report that’s only the start of the story. It turns out the hijinks are just the gateway for a boy and his dysfunctional robot to learn the true meaning of friendship, and how important it is to stand up for each other even when it’s not easy. It’s a celebration of being weird, and a reminder that finding one fellow weirdo who gets you can be so much more important than being popular.

Though it’s being released under the Disney umbrella, “Ron’s Gone Wrong” is actually the first feature film from Lighthouse Studios. Because of that, the script avoids the big studio animation formulas that have dominated the industry the last several years. That leaves it feeling so refreshing it’s easy to forgive the movie’s imperfections, including a slightly confusing message about technology, and let yourself get swept up in its charms.

Ron may have gone wrong, but there’s a lot about this movie that’s very right.

Grade: Three stars

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected]