This is the second attempt at a film adaptation of the novel Dune by Frank Herbert. The first one was released in 1984, directed by David Lynch, and starred Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides.
Here, for your own critical comparison, are all the differences between Lynch's Dune movie from 1984 and Villeneuve's from 2021:
1. Villeneuve got rid of one of my least favorite aspects of the original Dune: the audible internal monologue for every major character. Thank you, Denis!
2. Even though narration is nowhere near as prominent in Villeneuve's movie, there is still an opening narration — but this time, it's delivered by Zendaya's Chani instead of Princess Irulan.
Chani's opening monologue is part of one of Paul's dreams, whereas Princess Irulan's in 1984 was just direct exposition delivered to the audience.
3. The Atreides family had a sweet little pug in the 1984 version. There is no pug in 2021's Dune, but there are adorable desert mice.
4. Paul has a closer relationship with both his parents in the 2021 film, which is demonstrated by a couple of extra scenes that weren't in the original.
5. Speaking of Paul's parents, Lady Jessica? She's an absolute BADASS now.
6. The 2021 movie is sliiiightly funnier than the original.
I only counted about three jokes, and two of them came from Jason Momoa, but it's more than the original had!
7. Thankfully, Baron Harkonnen looks different than he did in 1984.
8. On the subject of the Harkonnens, one change that really scrambled my brain was the fact that the movies pronounce the name differently.
Maybe this is because I heard it first, but I personally prefer the 1984 pronunciation.
9. Dr. Wellington Yueh is played by Taiwanese actor Chang Chen.
10. The 2021 movie uses a few different languages, while the 1984 movie used only English.
Dr. Yueh and Paul speak Mandarin to each other, Jessica uses a type of sign language to communicate covertly, and the Fremen use a language called Chakobsa.
11. Stilgar shows up much earlier, which we should all be thankful for because he is played by Javier Bardem.
12. The 2021 version really emphasizes the harsh conditions on Arrakis and how much the Atreideses have to adapt when they get there.
The 1984 movie made it clear that Arrakis was a desert planet, but not how dangerous it was to be outside for even a single moment without a stillsuit.
13. Dr. Liet-Kynes is a woman in the new movie, portrayed by Sharon Duncan-Brewster.
14. Her death plays out differently than in the 1984 movie.
In the 1984 movie, Dr. Kynes was killed by the Harkonnens. In this movie, she sacrifices herself to give Paul and Jessica time to escape the Sardaukar army. She does this by summoning the sandworm to come eat her and the Sardaukar surrounding her.
15. Obviously, the quality of CGI has improved drastically since 1984. As a result, everything in 2021's Dune looks much more realistic and expansive.
16. Paul's visions are really, really different in both movies.
My apologies to Lynch, but I did not understand Paul's visions in the 1984 movie at all. They were full of metaphors and symbolism that, without the necessary context of the book, were more confusing than explanatory. Villeneuve's take on the visions was more literal and showed actual events and conversations that Paul might experience in the future. The visions/dreams also make up about 80% of Zendaya's screentime.
17. Duncan Idaho has a much bigger role this time around, and Momoa is great in it.
18. The new movie had more combat scenes, which is always cool.
Duncan, Gurney, Paul, and Lady Jessica (!!) all kick major butt in this movie.
19. Leto's death scene follows the same plot as the original movie but is different visually.
20. Paul and Jessica spend a much longer time lost in the desert after escaping Arrakeen and work together to survive.
21. Jessica and Paul are not immediately accepted by the Fremen, and Paul must fight a duel to the death before they are able to join them.
In the 1984 movie, they were accepted by the Fremen right away. However, there was a deleted scene in which Paul fought and killed Jamis, just as he does in the 2021 version. The 1984 movie actually has a lot of deleted scenes that you can find on YouTube, including a completely different ending.
22. Zendaya is only in seven minutes of Dune, and I know we're all upset about it, but I have to tell you: Her character, Chani, is already doing more than she did in the 1984 version.
23. There are a few characters from the 1984 movie that aren't in the 2021 movie, including the Emperor and Alia Atreides.
The Emperor is mentioned in the movie, and his desire to kill the Atreideses is what drives the movie's conflict, but we never actually see him. Alia is technically mentioned when we learn that Lady Jessica is pregnant, but at the end of the movie, she isn't born yet. Princess Irulan and Feyd-Rautha (who was played by Sting!) are also not in the new movie. The Emperor, Alia, and Irulan are likely to show up in Part 2 — that's just my assumption, since they're pretty important in the book — but who knows if we'll see another rock star embody Feyd.
24. "The sleeper has awakened" was an oft-repeated line in the original movie, but nobody says it once in the 2021 movie.
25. Paul is resentful of the Bene Gesserit prophecy and even lashes out at Jessica because of it, which didn't happen in the 1984 movie.
In the 1984 movie, Paul was worried that he wouldn't live up to the prophecy, but this version of the character dismisses the prophecy as a myth and doesn't believe in it until the very end of the movie. Paul is also tormented by his prophetic dreams and worries that power will corrupt him.