By: Sam Bennett
Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve, is the second adaptation (Dune 1984 dir. David Lynch) of the novel of the same name written by Frank Herbert in 1965. Dune features a stacked cast of Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Fergeson, Oscar Isaac, Dave Batista, and many more. The movie follows Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), son of the lord of House Atreides (Oscar Isaac), which is a sort of kingdom in the universe of Dune. House Atreides is given the rights to the planet Arrakis, a desert planet notorious for its spice, the most valuable resource in the universe. But, with the possible wealth of the spice comes defending Arrakis against those who seek the planet’s resources for themselves.
If there is one word to describe Dune, it is epic. And there’s no real place to begin besides the visuals and sound. It is not hyperbolic to say this is one of the best looking movies to come out in recent memory. Besides the spectacular, epic shots of huge creatures and machines and beautiful vistas and landscapes of planets, Villeneuve and the cinematographers are able to make every shot stunning. Static shots of sand with the spice sparkling on the surface are impeccable, the lighting of indoor areas amazing. Compounding upon the epic visuals of the movie is the sound. One of the main features of the planet Arrakis is huge worms that hunt by vibration, so the sound design used to emphasize the steps and vibrations made by objects and characters is vital to the story and done to perfection. Additionally, famed movie composer Hans Zimmer is responsible for the score of the movie, which once again delivers tremendously and continues to add to the epicness of the film. Seeing this movie in IMax if you can is a must, as it truly is an audiovisual masterpiece that can really only be properly experienced with the sound and screen that an IMax theater provides.
Besides the technical aspects of the film, Dune delivers on the story. For years, many have said that Dune is an unadaptable story. There is just too much to explain for a movie. But, Denis Villeneuve and his writers are able to do it. The first half of the movie is mostly set up, though this setup and exposition is still intriguing and extremely well done. We learn about the characters, their motivations, the relationships between different houses, and how the world of Dune functions. And this is able to be done due to some amazing acting, especially by Chamalet (Paul Atreides) and Fergeson (Lady Jessica, Paul’s mother). Then, a little over halfway in, the movie really kicks it into high gear with one of the most satisfying visual and auditory action scenes I have ever witnessed. While before this point, the movie is a bit slow, the exposition is necessary, and the second half more than makes up for the slowness with the amount of action provided.
Much of the criticism this movie has received is that it doesn’t truly have an ending and isn’t in a traditional three-act structure, feeling more like the first act to a second part (which it is). But that didn’t really detract from my experience, as walking out of the theater I felt both completely satisfied and desiring more.
Overall, Dune is my favorite movie of the year so far, and probably my favorite movie in at least three or four years. Because of everything I’ve laid out, I would highly recommend Dune to pretty much anyone, especially fans of sci-fi or programs or movies like Lord of the Rings. And while the film isn’t completely perfect, I think it’s pretty close to it.