“Causeway” vs. “Dune 2”

I know this is most likely a minority opinion. And some will consider what I’m saying ridiculous. But here it goes:

I did not like “Dune 2”. I thought “Causeway” was much better.

Bear with me.

Last weekend, I watched Causeway — a 2022 drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry — on Apple TV+. By all accounts, it’s a small film, in scope and very likely also in terms of budget. Lawrence plays a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan both physically and mentally traumatised, after she has experienced an IED explosion. Stuck in her hometown and in a difficult relationship with her mother, she meets Henry’s character and they become friends. In terms of plot, events and incidents, there is not a lot more going on.

But here is the thing: I was not bored one minute while watching the film. Both actors imbue their characters with life and depth and with complexity and relatability, and they made me keep wondering what will happen next. The script knows what it wants, and understands what it talks about. And that is where the difference lies compared to Dune 2. About half way through that film, I was really beginning to be bored — despite the incredible spectacle they were organising. Or maybe because of it? Bottom line was: Nothing unexpected happened. Nothing was surprising. All of it felt stale. Stale also in terms of the worn old story of a male hero saviour messiahs, a story in which women are decorative mysterious bystanders, and fist-fights save the day.

Now, some will most surely say “You idiot, how can you compare a small neighbourhood drama with a sci-fi blockbuster, this is sooo comparing apples and oranges!” — not to mention the fact that Dune 2 is apparently turning into a global commercial success. Well, I can compare them because they both vie for my attention. They want my time, an evening of my life. And: They invite me to engage with characters.

The simple truth is: I was annoyed to have given a lot of time to Dune 2, and really glad I gave my 90 minutes to Causeway. I would’ve liked to spend more time with Lynsey and James. And I was quite happy to leave the cinema after a lot of screaming, shouting, chest-thumping, and overall shenanigans surrounding Paul Atreides.

(This post seems to continue my reviews of films on Apple TV+, the start of which you can find here.)