Just got back from watching Dune. I have… opinions.
It’s a good movie. Great visuals, good writing and acting, and Denis Villenueve’s direction is phenomenal. His love for the source material really shines through. However the more problematic parts of the novel are present here, made potentially worse by the lack of Middle Eastern actors in roles clearly inspired by Arabic and Islamic cultures. (Honestly I’m not 100% sure whether having Middle Eastern actors playing the Fremen would be more or less racist, and I don’t think I’m in anyway qualified to answer that question).
Like the book, the film does pay lip service to the idea that Dune is intended as a criticism of white saviour narratives. My issue with the book was that it didn’t really do enough to condemn or subvert the trope, merely recreating it. It’s hard to tell how far Villenueve will push the critique as of right now. It really comes down to how he handles Part 2. Also he says he wants to adapt Dune: Messiah as well, which does delve deeper into the consequences of Dune, although still stopping short of fully condemning Paul, the white saviour.
For better or worse, Denis Villenueve’s Dune is a faithful adaptation of its source material, warts and all. Read into that what you will.