By: Amanda Guarragi
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune can be seen as a culmination of his work that came before it. With Enemy and Arrival under his belt, Villeneuve explored the extraterrestrial and created creatures among the real world. The combination of the existential dread, with his visuals for his science-fiction films, have been elevated with the story from Frank Herbert. Villeneuve created a grand scale epic that is made for the big screen. With it’s stunning visuals, courtesy of cinematographer Greig Fraser, to the strong performances from Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, and Jason Momoa. The score by Hans Zimmer is incredibly unique and so different than his other compositions. It elevated various scenes and gave me goosebumps at times.
We have Paul Atreides (Chalamet) who is the heir to the throne, that governs the most important planet in the known universe, Arrakis. His father Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) rules Arrakis, but the desert planet’s chief natural resource, a drug nicknamed the spice that gives its users superhuman powers, makes it the target of violent battles and the constant threat of political treachery. You can feel the humility, grace, and genuine love House Atreides has for one another on Caladan (their homeland). It happens with just subtle glances between Ferguson, Isaac, and Chalamet. Their dynamic was solid and worked for the power of their house.
After reading the book myself, this has to be one of the best adaptations I have seen in a very long time. Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth managed to take the important aspects of the book and visually turn them into something wonderful. Herbert’s words are mixed in with the dialogue and you could feel the regal nature radiating off of the Atreides clan. From the stunning costumes, to the richness of the colour palette complimenting each house, Villeneuve took Herbert’s material and made it his own. As someone who knows the story, it unfolded quite nicely and the ending gives viewers that hopefulness for a part two.
Villeneuve builds this world from the ground up. There is so much potential moving forward for this franchise because of everything that he manages to set up in this runtime. It does drag at times but the action scenes were spread out enough that it did not feel that bad. There were some editing choices that made transitions a bit jarring. But, all-in-all, Dune is something special. If you are a fan of Villeneuve’s work, then you will understand how important of a piece this is for him. The creature design of the sand-worm, the futuristic technology and costumes, the actual ships and vehicles, everything had that Villeneuve touch and no one else could have made this film right now.