Dune Review

Adapting a prestigious sci-fi novel like Dune is no small task when trying to translate it from page to screen. Dune has had some trouble when it comes to being able to bring its complex storytelling to the big screen, especially with the condensed storytelling that we got from David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation. Director Denis Villeneuve takes on the nearly impossible task of adapting Dune, a project that he’s been working on for many years. After getting to see the film after many delays, we can say that Villeneuve’s vision is finally realized at an epic scale. It is envisioned as a two-part story, so audiences may only get to see half of what was shown from the source material. With a stellar cast and incredible visuals, Villeneuve may have pulled off the impossible.

Based on the bestselling book series by Frank Herbert, Dune follows House Atreides has been given access to the hostile planet Arrakis, a desert world that contains a rare and valuable spice that is an important component to space travel. Led by Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), he accepts this assignment from the Emperor to oversee this resourceful planet, even though he fears this is all an elaborate ruse to see him fail. His son Paul (Timothee Chalamet) is a gifted young man who is plagued by visions of a mysterious young woman with blue eyes named Chani (Zendaya). Once he finds out where his destiny lies, Paul finds himself in the middle of a conflict between his father’s army and the rival House Harkonnen to control Arrakis. 

Much like the source material, Villeneuve has delivered Herbert’s family saga into an epic affair on a massive scale. The production design and the visual effects are impressive to justify seeing this at the theater. The cinematography is stunning with the huge set pieces accompanied by the beautiful score by the legendary Hans Zimmer. The team that Villeneuve has put together has made this film out of this world and manages to keep the sci-fi elements stuck in reality to keep the story grounded when it needs to be as it relates to current issues we face in the real world. We do see the reality of war when House Atreides gets attacked, similar to our history of war. Dune digs deep into the science fiction and fantasy components in its setting and execution, while also juggling multiple characters that often feel like a family drama.  

The incredible star power shown here is definitely shown here, especially as it revolves around our young lead. After putting on some Oscar-worthy performances, Chamalet is able to showcase just how complicated Paul can be as he takes on the responsibilities of being a leader and understands the harsh realities of war. What is great about his performance is that he isn’t portrayed as an action hero, but more of a young boy who is forced to grow up to become the man he has to be for his people and the inhabitants of Arrakis. Isaac suits his role as Leto, a man who must do whatever he can to protect his family and prepare his son for the outside world. The same can be said about Rebecca Ferguson, who portrays Paul’s mother Lady Jessica who informs him of where his fate lies. Jason Momoa brings in a heroic presence as Paul’s mentor and swordsman Duncan Idaho, pulling off some amazing action sequences in his scenes.

Those who are familiar with the original book or watched Lynch’s film version may be satisfied with what they see. There are definitely some key moments from the book that Villeneuve draws from, which fans will recognize. Even seeing the giant sandworms dwelling in the desert will impress the audience. The action sequences are pulled off with finesse, especially as the film builds slowly when they introduce us to the House Atreides and the politics being made. It can be difficult to grasp what’s happening in most of Villeneuve’s features, but he certainly does know how to draw in an audience by creating epic spectacles in a lot of the big scenes. It does feel somewhat incomplete, but that’s only because the film adapts roughly the first half of the novel so it may frustrate audiences once they realize that fact.

Dune is the epic tale that fans of the book will be impressed by thanks to the vision that Villeneuve puts out on screen. The film may be difficult to grasp due to its pacing and abrupt conclusion to the first part, but it does its job in setting up the world of Dune and starting a hero’s journey. Hopefully, if the film becomes successful, Villeneuve will be able to procure the second part of his epic masterpiece to give us the conclusion to Paul’s story. Thanks to the technological advances in film-making, it seems like Dune is ripe to become a massive sci-fi epic if given the right vision and care for the source material. Villeneuve’s version of Dune does just that and proves that imagination can turn into reality thanks to the power of movies and seeing them on the biggest screen possible.

Dune releases in theaters and on HBO Max beginning October 22.

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