Dune (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Grand

Dune

Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet) and Lady Jessica Atreides (played by Rebecca Ferguson) in Dune. PICTURE: © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, not only won awards but spawned five sequels and has become the source material for several movies, TV shows and games. The latest big screen interpretation brings a star studded cast and a striking visual style to the world of Arrakis, aka Dune.

The Dune saga tells the complex tale of war, politics, betrayal and heroism in the very far flung future. In the year 10191, space travel is fuelled by a mysterious spice only found on Arrakis, thus making it the most valuable commodity in the galaxy. The noble House Atreides, led by Duke Leto (Oscar Issacs) and his heir Paul (Timothée Chalamet) are commanded by the Emperor to replace the brutal House Harkonnen as rulers of Arrakis. Little do they know this is all part of a plot to destroy the House Atreides on the isolated desert planet inhabited only by the rebellious Fremen and giant sand worms.

"Dune is an evocative experience, dripping with atmosphere, whether it be in Hans Zimmer's resonant score or it’s visual imagination. The extraordinary cast pulls in players from some of the biggest blockbusters in recent history including Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Spiderman), Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War), Stellan Skarsgård (Thor), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Javier Bardem (No County for Old Men)."

The film focuses on Paul Atreides. Not only is he the son of the duke, but his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is part of a religious order, the Bene Gesserit, that have superhuman powers. This weaves in a spiritual plot line involving prophecies, visions and powers that seem inspired by messianic prophecy. Paul’s journey takes him from the comfort of the royal palace into the harsh desert of Arrakis, where he is hunted by enemy soldiers, Fremen rebels and the iconic sand worms of Dune.

Director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) creates a vision for the future that is equally beautiful as it is stark. The designs of the spaceships, weapons, and buildings all have a post-modern design sensibility. The costumes are rich with detail and the fantastic creatures are rendered with uncanny realism. Villeneuve has succeeded in creating a believable futuristic universe that feels real on nearly every level.

Dune is an evocative experience, dripping with atmosphere, whether it be in Hans Zimmer's resonant score or it’s visual imagination. The extraordinary cast pulls in players from some of the biggest blockbusters in recent history including Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Spiderman), Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War), Stellan Skarsgård (Thor), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Javier Bardem (No County for Old Men).

The plotting of the film proceeds at a very deliberate pace. It should be made clear this film it is very clearly half a story that shows no urgency to push the narrative at the breakneck speed of of its 1984 big screen predecessor directed by David Lynch. Lingering shots of scenery and characters evoke mood and mystery but viewers will need focus and stamina to get the most of the 156 minute experience. Furthermore, audiences will not be fully satisfied until the second part arrives, which will likely be in a couple of years. 

Dune has remained evergreen for more than 55 years as the themes of power, the battle for resources and the yearning for a savior are as relevant now as they ever were. There are uncanny parallels to the war on Dune for “spice” and the wars in the Middle East for control over oil supplies. Dune accomplishes what science fiction does at its best: it transports us to another reality, and, in doing so, helps us see our own world more clearly.