Denis Villeneuve’s Dune deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible because it features one of the most immersive and visually spectacular worlds ever created. Gorgeous special effects pair well with the brilliant acting and deeply layered story. While the pacing and complex narrative may not be for everyone, this is an adaptation made with heart and immense respect for the classic source material.
I have never read the novel and want to get all of the elements of this engrossing story right. So, I will be borrowing the wonderful synopsis that can be found on RottenTomatoes.com. Paul Atreides is a brilliant and gifted young man who is born into a destiny that is far beyond his understanding. He 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 this plantes exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence, only those who can conquer their own fear will survive.
A whole new world
I have never seen David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune, nor was I remotely familiar with the story before I saw the first trailer. After seeing the all-star cast and it being directed by one of my favourite directors currently working, I was excited to immerse myself into this world. The look of this film is truly unreal. It’s as if Denis Villeneuve actually took the cast and crew to a secret distant planet to film the entire movie. The special effects crew and cinematographer deserve award recognition for their work. The visuals rival films like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and even the latest Blade Runner, which he directed as well. If you decide to skip the theater and wait for it to arrive on a streaming service, you will miss out on the feeling of being transported to another world. I felt like I got off a spaceship and became acquainted with everyone that we meet in this movie.
Speaking of the cast, when you pair the already legendary Denis Villeneuve with names like Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Issac, Rebecca Furguson, Jason Mamoa, Dave Bautista, and Josh Brolin, your expectations go sky high. However, there is something that I want to get off of my chest; I am not on board or the biggest fan of Timothee Chalamet. I just haven’t been swept up in his perfectly messy hair or his doe eyed look that he has in every single role he plays. I feel like I am going to get a lot of heat for this, but his performance, to me, was exactly the same as every other movie he’s acted in. He doesn’t give off a lot of emotion, which I believe is intentional given the huge responsibilities this character has to live up to. But, I feel like he doesn’t add anything special to the role and he could easily be interchanged. As for the rest of the cast, they were amazing. I was especially fond of Jason Mamoa’s character and performance, he brought his signature charm with an extra level of acting I’ve never seen from him. Rebecca Fergueson is fantastic as always, along with the always great Oscar Isaac. Stellan Skarsgård and Dave Bautista made for compelling villains and I wish Zendaya had a bigger role because her short time on screen was very memorable for me. I am looking forward to seeing more of her in the next one.
Part 1 and more to come
From the second we see the title screen, we are immediately told this is Dune: Part 1. This worried me a considerable amount for the reason that Warner Bros movies have been underperforming at the box office during the pandemic due to them being released simultaneously on HBO Max. Dune carries a $165 million dollar budget, which doesn’t include marketing, so, if it doesn’t do well at the box office, we will never see part 2. Thankfully, while I was writing my review, Warner Bros announced that there will be a sequel. This is an excellent decision and I know the sequel will live up to the hype thanks in large part to the director behind the camera. Denis Villeneuve manages to capture my attention from the moment the movie provides some exposition for the ones he knows aren’t as familiar with the source material. As the film progresses, tension builds substantially and I was always unaware about what was going to happen next. Dune manages to keep you on the edge of your seat thanks to its many different storylines, mythologies, and characters. Denis primarily uses the characters to drive the story forward and make those who never read the book conjure these fantastic theories that may or may not come true. This was something I truly appreciated, and I am hoping to see more of it in part 2.
>> Check out also our review about Fast and Furious 9
Pacing that isn’t as quick as a Sandworm
The movie’s bloated runtime felt earned to me, especially when you consider that they were adapting a beloved novel. Despite basking in the pleasure of feeling tense, conflicted and unaware of what was coming, I did feel like Dune dragged a little bit at parts. I understand that this was for the sake of the material being fed to the audience, the tempo could’ve been picked up a little bit.
Denis Villeneuve accomplishes what couldn’t be done
Dune’s pace is purposefully slow because the novel by Frank Herbert is filled to the brim with lots of incredible information and detail that Herbert crafted. This book has such a devoted fan base that many have said the novel itself would be impossible to adapt. A movie and limited series were created and though both have devoted cult followings, they never really achieved what Frank Herbert imagined as he wrote this series of books. Denis Villneuve has proven those naysayers wrong by creating something that will not only please cinephiles, but casual moviegoers as well. He has done the unfathomable and made this complicated story accessible to everyone who watches. His absolutely incredible directing and ultimate love for Dune transported me into a whole new world that felt alive and real. The action scenes felt so real, I was worried for the actors’ lives and another sensational technique that was used to make the Dune more spectacular was scale. What I mean by that is if spaceships were being blown up, we were focused on characters running and seeing these events from their perspective. His stellar direction brought all of these fictional characters to life and he used their actions to not only drive the story forward, but give an incredible amount of depth to everyone we meet in Dune.
From the moment I watched the credits roll, I immediately wanted to watch Dune again because there is just so much to grasp and it already felt like one of the most rewatchable films to come out of 2021. Dune expertly blends perfect special effects with astounding photography to continue Denis Villeneuve’s reputation of creating the most gorgeous looking films. Besides that, these characters feel lived in and deep, making you care and feel something for everyone you meet. This story is rich and deep and will require multiple viewings to grasp absolutely everything, which makes you forgive the bloated runtime and pace. If you love thought provoking sif-fi, don’t walk to the cinema, run like your life depends on it. The only thing stopping from giving this film a 10 is that I need to see how the story ends.
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