Score and soundtrack: A+, Hans Zimmer
Visual intelligence and sophistication: A+
Drama: I thought the first half was weak here, though the movie became progressively more gripping. But too many of the proceedings felt stagey rather than organic or evoking of real interest.
Memorable characters: I give this award to the sandworms and the blue-eyed Fremen warrior chick. The others were “good enough” but didn’t click for me in a huge way.
Fidelity to the original novel: Good enough, without being too slavish in its homage.
Unusual element: Huge dose of French imperialist “Orientalism.”
Straussian reading: It is trying to make both jihad and Islam intelligible and sympathetic to non-Muslim viewers.
Bottom line: I am looking forward to the sequel, and very much hope Villaneuve is on tap to direct. It was wonderful seeing this one surrounded by the sands of Arizona.