"Dune" stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem. Released on October 22, 2021, the film is about an heir who is thrust into a war for the desert planet.
The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who also directed films such as "Prisoners", "Enemy", "Sicario", "Arrival", and "Blade Runner 2049". It is based on the 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. If you still don't think October is the new month of action blockbusters, maybe this film will help you change your mind. Acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve has returned to bring another science fiction film from our childhoods back to life on the big screen. Unlike "Blade Runner", this one was in dire need of a redo. Published in 1965, "Dune" has impressed every reader with its multilayered themes and futuristic setting. While the novel is considered one of the best science fiction books of all time, its film adaptation was a different story. The 1984 adaptation by David Lynch was seen as a box-office flop and was met with generally negative reviews, though it did develop a cult following over time. Due to its horrible reception, it seemed unlikely that Hollywood would ever attempt to give the complicated novel another shot at the big screen. That is until Villeneuve rose to the challenge. Ever since I saw "Prisoners" back in 2013, I've been showing some strong support for Denis Villeneuve. While his direction for the pacing can be a challenge to sit through at times, his bleak yet immersive scope and intriguing storytelling usually compensate for this minor flaw every time. So when I saw that he's helming another film adaptation of "Dune", I was curious to see if his vision can balance well with its complicated sci-fi concept. If he can make "Blade Runner 2049" work, then he can surely do the same for this film. With that in mind, let's see if that's the case for this highly-anticipated adaptation.
The story centers on the royal Atreides family in the far future of humanity. The family consists of Duke Leto Atreides (Isaac), his concubine Lady Jessica (Ferguson), and their young son and heir, Paul Atreides (Chalamet). Leto has accepted the stewardship of the treacherous planet Arrakis. Arrakis is the home of the most valuable substance in the universe known as "melange", which can extend human life, provide extreme levels of thought, and make faster-than-light travel possible. After a sudden betrayal by one of their own, Paul and Jessica fled the mining operation and encountered the planet's natives. Identified as the Fremen, the inhabitants are preparing for war against the enemy invaders, the House Harkonnen, and Paul happens to be caught in the middle of it. The film represents the first half of the 1965 novel, which depicts Paul's transformation into the Fremen messiah. This approach had me convinced that the source material has too much juicy stuff to cover in just one film, even with its two-and-a-half-hour runtime. While this idea works in introducing its massive world-building and characters, it also runs the risk of being a tragic waste due to its abrupt ending. If the film's potential sequels are put in the can because of its low box office income, then its conclusion will wind up being a pointless tease of something that'll never see the light of day. This is something that I hope would never happen because I'm highly interested in seeing what would happen next. Even though I haven't read the novel or watched the 1984 film, I thought "Dune" was not only fascinating in its storytelling, but it was also incredibly stunning in its scope and visual effects. It's like a combination of "Star Wars" and "Blade Runner" regarding its futuristic tech, abilities, and gorgeous locations, with little to no hints of droids, of course. Despite a couple of emotional moments that got overshadowed by its overwhelming grandness, the story in "Dune" significantly introduces its world and characters while providing a familiar yet riveting tale of a man chosen by destiny. Its ending did leave me feeling upset at first, but then I got over it once I realized that it's only "part one" of this sci-fi epic. The film's A-list actors were very engaging, notably Rebecca Ferguson and Jason Momoa as Lady Jessica and Duncan Idaho, respectively. Timothée Chalamet continued to showcase his marvelous talent onscreen as Paul, even though his highly famous co-stars occasionally outpace him. Zendaya was also solid in her role as Chani despite her short screen time. My only minor issue with the cast was that they could be a bit hard to hear what they're saying when they're whispering their dialogue. It only happens a few times throughout the film, so I can't be too angry at that. Like Villeneuve's other works, primarily "Blade Runner 2049", "Dune" shines the brightest when its technical qualities are on display. From its immersive cinematography to the imaginative essence of its locations, the film delivered a breathtaking and dreary take on humanity's future as only Villeneuve can do. It further showcased the director's superb ability to transform a sci-fi blockbuster into cinematic art. This approach might not impress everyone who wanted a more traditional blockbuster. However, it will undoubtedly do wonders for those who want more out of its formula. I also enjoyed Hans Zimmer's score, which offered a futuristic and religious vibe to the film's nature. I wouldn't say that it's Zimmer's best work, but he did inject plenty of energy into its vocals to give the movie the proper soul it needed.
Overall, Denis Villeneuve's take on "Dune" is unsurprisingly astounding in its technical qualities, with its intriguing story being able to follow suit. Its minor narrative hiccups kept it from being a perfect science-fiction epic. Still, it's another strong example of an awe-inspiring experience that's only made for the biggest screen possible. Its talented cast, well-crafted story, and striking visuals make this film a captivating first half of the famous sci-fi novel. If you're planning on watching "Dune", I highly recommend seeing it in the theater to get the best experience. I should know because that's how I watched it.