Dune is a visual spectacle that expertly uses story, scale and sound to create an entrancing and poignant experience.
The highly anticipated film “Dune” is finally out.
Set 8000 years in the future, “Dune” centers around a Duke’s son, Paul Atreides, portrayed by Timothée Chalamet, in a feudal universe where spice is the most valuable resource. When the Duke of Atreides is tasked with stewardship over the planet Arrakis — the galaxy’s largest spice producer — a power struggle unravels.
This is the second film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic novel of the same name. The first adaptation was directed by David Lynch in 1985 and was poorly received. The 2021 “Dune” is also only the first of numerous parts.
My expectations going into “Dune” (2021) were fairly high based on director Denis Villeneuve’s prior filmography such as “Blade Runner 2049,” “Prisoners” and “Arrival.” Somehow, my expectations were not only met, but exceeded.
I found my jaw dropped and eyes wide open as larger than life events transpired on the IMAX screen in front of me.
“Dune” is huge — and not just because it has a two and a half hour runtime. Giant worms, vast seas of sand and enormous set pieces are just some of the things that demonstrate this scale.
There is an inherent sense of awe in the visuals. The cinematography is truly breathtaking. Director of photography Greig Fraser flaunts his expertise with his use of color and composition.
It helps that Dune’s subject matter is easy on the eyes. Oscar Isaac and Rebecca Ferguson give standout performances as Duke Leto Atreides and Lady Jessica Atreidas, respectively. In a smaller but just as powerful of a role, Javiar Bardem is fascinating as the shifty Stilgar.
The biggest compliment I can give “Dune” is its ability to make the audience feel like they are a part of this world in such a short amount of time. The politics and structure of this fictional universe are plausible and believable.
On top of everything else, the movie’s music elevates both the intensity and sense of realism that the film reaches to embody.
Hans Zimmer’s score beautifully enhances emotion from scene to scene. Drums methodically beat as Paul and Jessica trudge through hot sand, while strings fill the theater as a scene is reaching its climax. Once again, Hans Zimmer proves himself to be one of the most accomplished composers of all time.
The grandiose scale, music and performances balance with Dune’s quieter moments to create a hypnotic atmosphere akin to “Blade Runner 2049.”
Dune’s themes are heavily influenced by religious concepts and spends time intertwining them with the insatiable desire for power. While there are a number of themes set up in this film, I am expecting to derive a lot more from them in the inevitable second part.
“The story is so rich and complex that, in order to be faithful to the book, we’ll need to make at least two movies,” said Villeneuve in an interview with Variety.
Villeneuve’s previous film, “Blade Runner 2049” was a box office flop at the time of its release despite critical accolades, according to a report from Forbes. With his previous sci-fi epic underperforming, the internet seems to be slightly concerned that a second part of “Dune” may never see the light of day.
Thankfully, “Dune” pulled in over 40 million domestically at the box office this weekend and broke a record number of streams on HBO Max. Will this be enough to greenlight production on the second half of the story? We’ll have to pray and see.
Until then, I’ll be dreaming of Zendaya even more than Timothée Chalamet does in this film.