Denis Villeneuve has out done himself with his latest outing. Delivering us with an epic science-fiction space opera that makes you believe in cinema again.
Feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.
Let’s just this out of the way first. Dune is masterfully and beautifully directed by Denis Villeneuve, cementing himself as perhaps the new King of science fiction. From Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 to now Dune, each new experience he has grown as a film-maker, and continued to submerge us into new depths of some of the most stunning visuals I have ever seen.
Escape reality and enter into the world of Arrakis, where the land will literally kill you. Whether it’s the heat, that is too hot for any man to survive or the sand worms that will swallow you up in a matter of seconds. It would be like watching a man step on an ant, that’s how small these people are compared to the great sand worms of Arrakis. The Atreides are a nobel family that have been sent to planet Arrakis to make peace and finally bring some sort of balance to their universe. Duke Leto (Oscar Issac) Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and their son Paul (Timotheé Chalamet) make up this royal family that is home to one of the greatest armies in the entire universe. Leading this army is Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) who plays a stiff but intense close ally to The Duke, and their fearless compainion Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa). Both of these dudes just shine in this film. I certainly believe this is the strongest outing of Jason Momoa’s career and will go even further and say he is the best part of this movie.
With Dune comes a big responsibility, this is a beloved franchise of novels that fans have been waiting to see a great live action adaptation take place. There is so much lore, so much backstory and characters being flushed out especially in the part of the novel that this movie is covering. I wondered how they would accomplish this ginormous task. Glossing over certain things and not developing certain characters more was bound to happen, but I’ll say this. They do it so organically in the movie, not cramming all the information down your throat, and let you get immersed into this world before dropping a bunch of exposition on you. It was a herculean task to bring this novel to life and they did it flawlessly I believe.
So what exactly is Dune all about? Two words, desert power. Paul is dreaming of a girl on Arrakis; Chani (Zendaya) and he’s not quite sure what his dreams truly mean. If you’re going into this movie expecting a ton of Zendaya I hate to break it to you, but she serves as mostly a music video girl, you’ll understand once you see it. But remember, this is only the beginning. This movie is all about Paul and his story about self-discovery and learning who he is truly meant to be. On one hand, Paul is bound to the throne after his father Duke. He is meant to be a great political leader and needs to learn how to not only lead but what is important in being a great leader. On the other hand his mother Lady Jessica, she is part of the Bene Gesserit, which is almost a secret society. They are basically witches, who use a higher power, “the voice” to control everything and everyone behind closed doors. Reserved for females only, the tide shifts when Jessica starts teaching Paul the ways of this unique and powerful gift. The world doesn’t run on Dukin’ Doughnuts anymore, but rather spice. It’s the most prized possession and when going to Arrakis a world full of it, Paul quickly realizes that it isn’t actually the most valued commodity on Arrakis, but rather its people, the Fremen. Banished to the underworld of this desert planet, they will ultimately play a vital role in changing the course of this intense power struggle.
Why is this movie so special? Because these are the exact kind of movies that are made when you think of movie theatres. The scope, the size, the sound, are all magnificent, it’s honest to god holy. See this on the biggest screen possible and you are actually being transported to another world. It all feels so rich and vast while not thinking “this is just one big CGI cluster-fuck.” How Denis Villeneuve is able to pull off such remarkable visual effects all while keeping his movie so grounded is beyond me. One of the things he does best in this movie, is making you realize how large the size of something is, whether it’s a space ship, an army marching towards their enemies or one of the breathtaking sand worms. His eye for focusing on one target that is rather small and surrounding it by just immense scale is truly world class film-making.
Dune is this generations Star Wars, hell the book was published before Star Wars and it’s clear that George Lucas was a fan of the material. There are so many parallels between the two, that it only makes sense. This is a science fiction masterpiece that will go down as one of the very best science fiction movies to ever be made. It is film-making at its finest and as I’m sitting here writing this review, we just got word of the Dune sequel and life is great, and movies are just back. Go see Dune.
I fully expect this movie to clean up at the Oscars, probably a clean sweep of every technical category and I won’t be shocked if both Ferguson and Chalamet are nominated for their acting, because both give emotional and raw performances.
Dune = 95/100