Dune (2021)

New Warhorn Media post by Nathan Alberson:

Nathan, I think there’s an interesting thesis about Villeneuve somewhere in all this. I didn’t think you laid it out quite clearly enough; perhaps you could revisit his career in a dedicated episode.

As touched on he is an interesting mix: a big spectacle, but moody, director, mainstream aesthetic taste but eschews popular stories and IP. And then he’s a scrappy VFX sourcer and producer and attracts and works closely with good actors, though (IMO) never the best available.

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I would have to get over my distaste for the man. Maybe for Dune 2.

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Duncan Idaho sounds like the dollar store version of Indiana Jones.

This comment is not really related to the Dune movie, but I’ll say it here because I have been thinking about it a long time and maybe it would be helpful for you to hear it.

The Sanity at the Movies and Bookening podcasts seem intended to inform and equip Christians, but from my perspective, they completely fail to do that. Why? They’re filled with so much banter, tangents, and personal reminiscences that I find them very tedious to listen to, so I’ve long had a habit of ignoring them entirely, despite my interest in the books and movies under discussion. Since I had recently posted my thoughts on the Dune movie, I decided to give the podcast another try but turned it off a few minutes in when I couldn’t stand it anymore because the conversation swerved to discussing feelings about Ghostbusters.

Of course, you have the freedom to do podcasts however you like, and I have the freedom not to listen to them, but I can’t imagine that I and my wife are the only people to react this way. If so, then you are failing to serve Christians at large, as appears to be your stated goal. The inability or unwillingness to stay focused on topic comes off as undisciplined and self-indulgent, and frankly, I wouldn’t let this style of teaching occur under the auspices of my church. Again, you can do podcasts however you want, but I am letting you know my opinion because getting feedback, however critical, can be helpful.

Edited to add: The reason I am exercised about this is because podcasts evaluating books and movies from a biblical perspective would be a great asset but they are not usable in the present form. I can’t suggest to people that they listen to these podcasts because there’s too much wading through chaff to get the wheat.


Joel, it wouldn’t be a good movie podcast if the hosts couldn’t entertain and draw in lots of connections and references to build the personality of the show. It sounds like you’re looking for a lecture series.


Okay, I finally saw this. I might have missed it but did you guys go the entire show without saying “John Spaihts” once. That man cannot turn in anything but a banal list of bullet points when assigned a conversation between two characters. This happens in every movie he’s touched that I’ve seen (Passengers, Prometheus, Dr Strange, Tom Cruise’s Mummy, Dune.)

I was entertained but we were robbed of 5-6 good conversations that had the screen time and suitable actors allotted to them.

There’s more I could say, but I really think the writing needs some blame here. Especially because Rebecca Furguson’s non-verbal performance was so intense. I don’t think that happened by accident and it made up for a lot.

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He is indeed the king of banality.

Connections and references are good when they are directly relevant to the subject matter, but that’s often not the case, and I don’t find it entertaining. If Sanity at the Movies is looking to give a fun time to a narrow audience, then sure, an idiosyncratic show with personality is the way to go. But if Sanity at the Movies wants to provide a biblically informed view to a broad audience, then yes, a lecture series would be better than what it is now. It would be good to cut out the fluff for no other reason than time, because I don’t think many people are going to want to devote 90+ minutes listening to a review of Dune.

I can’t speak to their numbers but they’re doing a format that they can reasonably expect to be popular, based on other media podcasts.

I expect you’ll find this bewildering, but for the right movie and the right podcast, it’s almost a fist-pump moment to see it show up in the queue, and if they’ve gone extra long, even better. :slight_smile: And I’m a busy father, full time worker, etc.

You might like Ted Giese’s movie reviews. He’s a Lutheran pastor in Canada who writes a column and then discusses the film with Todd Wilken on the radio show Issues Etc. They use a summary-themes-questions-pastoral-concerns format and talk for about 20 minutes (the episodes are longer because they have sponsor/syndication breaks in them.)

There isn’t an RSS feed just for these, only one global feed, but you can browse and listen to them from this search result: https://issuesetc.org/?s=giese

However, Pastor Giese’s actual movie podcast is closer to Sanity at the Movies in length and format: http://www.billandtedmovies.com/


I am going to withdraw my criticism of Sound of Sanity and the Bookening and apologize to their creators. I now understand that they have intentionally adopted a particular style to appeal to a particular type of person rather than serve a broader audience. Therefore, it is unfair for me to expect them to be otherwise.


I typed a long post about how I share - to some degree - Joel’s concern. But I deleted it. It didn’t go anywhere or add much. Here is a short version:

I really like the Bookening, have learned a lot from it, been blessed by it. (I started listening during Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked.) I think it might be improved (in my opinion) with some “tightening up” (my term). But how much character would it lose? I don’t know. I think Joel’s comment is food for thought. But I would change nothing before I changed much.

Regarding the movie podcast, I dont really like movies. But I do like SaM podcast. Some of that is because I listened to the Bookening and SoS first and appreciate the guys who do the podcast. Part of that is the fact that they are basically of the same age and worldview as me. Would it be improved by “tightening?” I have no idea.

I’m at risk of typing a second long post, so I’ll cut myself off and just say I think Joel’s comment is good food for thought and that the pods could possibly be improved upon with some discipline. Just my 2 cents that I decided to throw out since I’m a long-time listener.

Also - to Nathan, Ben, Brandon and Jacob:

  1. Keep it up guys. Its obvious that this has been a challenging year for you fellas with moving and starting CotK. Full disclosure, I thought and prayed about moving to Evansville to join you, but God didn’t open that door. Been praying for you.

  2. The criticism is meant to help and encourage, not to beat down and wound.


Joel, I disagreed with you but I didn’t think you were wrong to make your point. I’m sure it’s helpful for them to receive all feedback, especially from the thoughtful people who post here.

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A lot of it comes down to artistic style and taste, doesn’t it? Some people really enjoy higher context podcasts where they feel like they know the various hosts, and are vicariously participating in what feels like a real conversation, and others are looking for well styled information transfer. I tend to enjoy podcasts with less banter, or at least where the banter is kept in its place. I also generally like podcasts with no more than two people involved, as they move forward more predictably. But I know other people really enjoy the more chaotic “conversation with friends” style podcasts.


I think you’re right about style preference. I can’t get into a one person podcast. My mind just wonders and I don’t pay attention. I need at least two people, I need to follow a conversation. Three is hard at first until you get used to the distinct voices, personalities, etc. But after you get used to them, I like three better.


I agree for less fully scripted/prepared podcasts. Two people having a discussion seems to turn on the social part of my brain and help me pay attention and follow along. That is why interview podcasts can work so well (Econtalk, for instance). However, there are a lot of fantastic single person podcasts, they just require a lot more preparation and need to be more scripted (think Dan Carlin’s history podcasts).

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I think I’m going to see this with some friends who are super into Dune next week. One of them saw it and loved it.

And while we’re offering complaints!!!.. your deconstruction of the MCU for ruining Captain America and Thor made me see things I can’t unsee! (OK not a real complaint - I’m grateful for it).


I just finished listening to the Dune episode, and while I don’t object to the banter and tangents per se, I could not sympathize with, or even really understand, much of the criticism. From my perspective, Dune was a decent sci-fi story, and we’re fortunate to have not one, but two, major film adaptations. The material is not light fare or typical fodder for Hollywood. The downsides of film adaptations are largely due to constraints of budget and movie run time. I’m glad Dune (2021) will be released as two episodes instead of the one Dune (1984). My main expectation in watching a Dune movie is that it will bring my imagination of the story to life. @nathanalberson did point out that this movie could be enjoyed more by someone who is not a film aficionado (he mentioned wives). Does that mean that the podcast is for film aficionados? If so, why so many Marvel movies?

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I’m glad everyone else enjoyed Dune as much as they did. It was a well made movie if you could vibe with it, which apparently most people could.

As I said on the podcast, if Villeneadjdk reduced his characters to simple archetypes (father, warrior, etc), I would be happy with that. Or if he developed them into robust three dimensional people, I would be happy with that. But he splits the difference and it leaves me feeling cold.

For example, I don’t mind them cutting all the stuff about the Duke’s relationship with Jessica. But they leave just enough to give me the feeling there should be more.

Also ethnic warbling lady drives me nuts.

If other people like how Villeondnfjfkfkd handles it, good. It’s not an immoral movie or a shoddily made one. Just not the one I wanted to see made out of the material.

As for why we chose the films we choose to review, a cabal of mystical nuns works behind the scenes to move us slowly but inexorably toward producing the perfect podcast. Believe me, you don’t won’t to cross them.


I don’t recall the book being much better with regard to developing robust, three-dimensional characters. You made good points about what may have motivated Herbert to write vs. connective filler. The fact that the movie lacks connective parts could be attributed to the fact that five hours run time (for both episodes) is nowhere near the 21 hours it takes to narrate the entire book. That is an awful lot of material that must be cut out somehow. I wouldn’t mind seeing an unabridged movie series, but I doubt there are enough people like me to justify the necessary budget.