DUNE

Warner Brothers Pictures

Written by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villenueve and Eric Roth

Directed by Denis Villenueve

Starring Timothée Chalamet , Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin , Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Stephen Henderson, Charlotte Rampling, with Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem and Chang Chen

Rated PG-13

A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

In 1984, director David Lynch released the first theatrical adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel DUNE. It did not do well with either critics or audiences. After reading the novel myself when I was younger and seeing both the theatrical version and four hour extended versions of Lynch’s film, I had the thought that there is no way anyone can reduce the size, scope and world of DUNE into one movie. After seeing Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of DUNE, I can continue to say that I am right. But not for the reasons you might be thinking.

If what you took from the previous paragraph was that I didn’t like the film, you would be wrong. I enjoyed this film immensely for several reasons starting with the cast. Timothee Chalamet is perfect as Paul. He brings a quiet intensity and a naiveté that doesn’t make him weak, but curious about a world he’s never seen. We get to experience the wonders and dangers of the world through his eyes and not many actors can engage with the audience in that way. Rebecca Ferguson is also brilliantly cast as Lady Jessica. She is equal parts loving mate and mother as well as fierce warrior. The rest of the cast does amazing work as well with Josh Brolin as the gruff, but loveable Gurney and Jason Mamoa as the fiercely loyal Duncan Idaho who is both mentor and older brother figure to Paul.

Oscar Isaac has a commanding presence as Duke Leto, but he doesn’t have as much interaction with Paul as the rest of the characters. I hope their relationship is explored more in the sequel film. David Dastmalchian does amazing work as Piter against Stellan Skarsgard’s Vladimir Harkonnen. Dastmalchian has the task of being the voice of the evil characters and their plans as we marvel at them visually.

The other thing I really liked about this film was the scope of it and how the cinematography was able to capture beautiful vistas and landscapes of multiple worlds. Each scene was visually stunning and many were outright breathtaking including the gathering of the Sardaukar troops before the invasion of Arrakis, the battle on Arrakis and the more. The cinematography is beautiful and every shot has an old school epic feel to it.

The story is also well done. While there might be some that say that the pacing was a little slow, I would disagree. The story had the hard task of telling an epic tale of betrayal, intrigue and discovery while also getting you to feel for the characters within this world. Villeneuve does that exceedingly well with the cast assembled and with a script that gives the characters form, substance and agency throughout. There isn’t one character or moment wasted in this film and every moment had me riveted either by performance, spectacle or visual awe. To get back to one of the first things I said about the film and how it could not successfully be made into one movie, Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE is so grand in its scope, scale and story that it requires at least another film to complete its story.

DUNE

9.4

9.4/10

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