‘Dune‘ is the third attempt at bringing Frank Hebert’s science fiction novel to the silver screen. This time, director Denis Villeneuve partners with Legendary Pictures and Warner Media to handle the project.
Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is the son of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), a wealthy feudal lord, and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), a disciple of the Bene Gesserit, a women’s religious order. Leto has been named Lord of Arrakis, also known as Dune, a planet that holds “spice,” a chemical needed to help pilots navigate the vastness of space. He suspects the emperor placed him in charge due to the political nature of the situation. Paul is tortured by dreams of Chani (Zendaya), a woman from the Dune. When they arrive they meet up with Paul’s mentor Duncan (Jason Mamoa), who arranges a meeting with Stilgar (Javier Bardem), the leader of the local inhabitants called Fremen, who just want the desert to themselves. After a day of investigating the spice equipment, they are attacked by rival Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), the feudal lord who previously ruled the planet. He swiftly takes back control, killing Leto and restoring order. Paul and Lady Jessica flee into the desert, hoping to find the Fremen and escape.
Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the novel. I did read it but did not find it as impressive as other sci-fi fans. Thus I skipped the David Lynch and Syfy channel adaptions. However, this version had a lot of hype built up to it, and seeing as how it was added to HBO Max, I thought I would give it a go and find out if Villeneuve could deliver.
From a technical standpoint, the movie is stunning. The visuals are truly stunning, even on the roving desert landscapes and the designs of the sets, wow. It was impressive. That goes for the sound editing as well. It was well done. Now, Hans Zimmer‘s score was interesting. While at times it complimented the scenes, other times it felt a bit intrusive but was nonetheless unique.
I often criticize Villeneuve’s pacing. He tends to allow things to go to a crawl with filler scenes that seemingly serve no purpose other than to show off his talent at capturing visuals. I was curious if he would do this with this film since the novel he is adapting is so dense. Turns out, no, he actually paced it very well. It was still a bit slow, but it made up for it with his ability to capture the tone and themes of the novel. It is not a perfect adaption, but it is a satisfactory one.
As for the cast, everyone does a good job. He did a good job of picking each performer for their roles. Josh Brolin as the cynical, but loyal House Atreides guard Gurney Halleck was probably one of the best actors in the film. Although, I do want to give a special shoutout to Timothée Chalamet. As the protagonist, he could have derailed it, but I applaud him for staying on track and delivering on every level.
Now, does it live up to the hype? Not really, but it is a solid and enjoyable science fiction film. You are entranced by all of the characters at hand and their motivations. From the beginning to the end, you want to know the next step of the plot and it keeps you engaged on that level.
Bottom line, Dune is a science fiction film you do not want to miss. The excellent performances, stunning visuals, and overall plot will keep you hooked to the movie.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Sci-fi violence, Some foul language, Disturbing images
FAVORITE QUOTE: When you take a life, you take your own.
Check out the trailer below:
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