With ”Dune,” visionary director Denis Villeneuve serves up a Thanksgiving-sized feast for the eyes and ears that’s so delicious it’ll have you coming back for seconds … and even thirds.
This masterful adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel tells the story of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), the son of a noble family plagued with visions and crumbling under the weight of destiny. Caught up in a deadly web of politics fueled by the Emperor’s jealousy and House Harkonnen’s unquenchable greed, Paul’s family is sent to the hostile desert planet Arrakis and charged with the harvesting of Spice, the galaxy’s most coveted resource.
Honestly, I still haven’t fully processed the fact that I’ve seen this movie. “Dune” was my most anticipated movie for years, and COVID-19 delays only threw gas on that fire. This is my kind of movie from top to bottom. An epic, immersive world populated with compelling, flawed characters, sprinkled with a healthy dose of cinematic spectacle.
It’s essentially the political maneuvering and backstabbing of “Game of Thrones” set in the world of “Star Wars.” If some elements of “Dune” feel familiar, it’s because the original novel inspired so much of the pop culture we love today.
First off, Villeneuve was the perfect choice to direct “Dune.” He’s helmed some of the best movies of the past decade, including the criminally under-watched “Blade Runner 2049” and “Prisoners.” He brings this world to life in a way I doubt any other filmmaker could, emphasizing the sheer scope and beauty while never losing sight of the characters and their journeys.
From a technical viewpoint, this film is nearly flawless. The visual effects are some of the best ever put to screen. The cinematography is luscious, from the moody shots of Chalamet’s brooding Paul AtrAtreides the ethereal dream sequences of Zendaya’s Chani. The desert hasn’t looked this gorgeous since 1962’s “Lawrence of Arabia.”
Hans Zimmer’s score, while not one of his all-time greats, blasts the roof off of the theatre. Who knew bagpipes could sound so epic! I’ve heard complaints about it being too loud, but I ate it up.
In front of the camera, “Dune” is jam-packed with Hollywood A-listers. Chalamet was spot-on casting as Paul, and while his character can feel at times like a stereotypical chosen one, I think the next movie will drastically change the way we view him.
Oscar Isaac, armed with a beautiful beard, is also excellent as Duke Leto, and Rebecca Ferguson gives a nuanced performance as Lady Jessica, who is really the emotional core of the movie. However, it’s Jason Mamoa that stole the show as Duncan Idaho. He exudes a lovable, brotherly warmth. Not to mention, he gets all the coolest fight scenes too.
All that being said, my largest and only real criticism of the film is that it doesn’t feel like a complete story. It feels like half a story, and well, that’s because it is. The opening title card reveals that this is, in fact, “Dune: Part One.” As a result, I couldn’t help but leave the theatre feeling slightly unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast from start to finish, but it felt like just when the characters and world had been established and the plot was kicking into high gear, the film ended.
Needless to say, I’m on pins and needles waiting for “Dune: Part Two,” and thank God it finally has an official release date of Oct. 20, 2023. A two-year wait is brutal, but I’m confident it will be worth it. I highly recommend watching this film on the largest screen possible. It was truly jaw-dropping to watch in IMAX. More movies like this, please and thank you.