After much anticipation and a more-than-one-year delay, the long-awaited Dune adaptation debuted at the Venice International Film Festival. In a matter of days, it will hit theaters across all of Europe. Unfortunately, fans in the United States will have to wait until October 22 to watch Villeneuve’s latest effort. No matter what, the wait is worth it as the Canadian’s most ambitious project so far delivers top-of-the-range entertainment for cinema lovers. And it’s mind-blowing.
Set in a distant future, Dune is essentially a coming-of-age story of the young Paul Atreides, whose journey to become a great ruler will bring him to the desert planet Arrakis, the home of spice, the most precious resource in the galactic empire. Two noble families are competing for the dominance of Arrakis, the one led by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and the Atreides. Paul is not your usual hero as the young heir of House Atreides has no peer friends but just older teachers, who are alpha males compared to their young apprentice. As much as he might look like a 16-year-old kid looking to find his voice, he brings a significant lineage both from his father’s and his mother’s part. In addition to having noble birth, the young protagonist is supposedly the Kwisatz Haderach, the Chosen One whom the Bene Gesserit order has been carefully breeding for more than 10,000 years.
Interstellar vet Timothée Chalamet did an excellent job capturing the uncertainties and anxieties of the young heir of House Atreides, bringing lots of charisma with him. The rest of the Dune cast is suitable for special occasions as it includes Rebecca Ferguson — delivering an outstanding performance as Lady Jessica — Oscar Isaac portraying a stern Duke Leto Atreides, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, and David Bautista as the fearless warriors Duncan Idaho, Gurney Halleck, and Glossu Rabban, respectively.
As for the rest of the cast, Zendaya is arguably one of the biggest names on the Dune cast, but her part in the story is relatively small, relegated to the role of Paul’s dream girl. In Dune, she is Chani, a proud Fremen girl who bonds with Chalamet’s Paul Atreides. In the books, she plays a pivotal role after the arrival of Duke Leto Atreides I’s son on the desert planet, but the movie doesn’t see her very much. A hypothetical sequel is supposed to explore her character further, much-needed after watching her sacrificed part in this film.
Director Villeneuve isn’t new to demanding tasks; he proved it when he helmed Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s highly touted Blade Runner. This time, he not only took on the difficulty of adapting on the big screen the world created by Herbert, but the Canadian director also had to live up to fans’ expectations. In Dune, Villeneuve has outdone himself with his majestic shots, light effects, and the charm of a smoking screens effect. If you liked Arrival and enjoyed watching Sicario, you will find plenty of references to the director’s works. Additionally, fans of Herbert’s books can sleep tight as Villeneuve has been very respectful of the source, adapting many dialogues and scenes almost verbatim, capturing the essence of Herbert’s work, in contrast to when David Lynch offered his take on it back in 1984.
Nothing feels cheap or fake, or out of place in this movie. Hans Zimmer’s score perfectly set the tone for this epic saga with great basses and some pleasant bagpipes. Not only will you see and feel Arrakis’ desert in Villeneuve’s geometrical-balanced frames, but you will also hear it with Zimmer’s soundtrack.
The only thing wrong with this film is that it feels incomplete, the same way The Fellowship of the Ring might feel without The Two Towers and The Return of the King. After all, this movie only covers the story from the first half of Herbert’s novel. Warner Bros. now has a golden goose in its hands, something that might compete with Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings in terms of popularity. Now the ball is in the producers’ court, provided fans will answer the call and watch Villeneuve’s masterpiece in large numbers. Warner Bros. hasn’t greenlit a sequel yet, even if the director is hopeful about the project and implies several times that the story requires a sequel — Villeneuve himself went as far as teasing a trilogy for this project. After watching it, no matter how many films the Canadian filmmaker opts to make, might they be two, three, or a hundred, he should have a free pass from Warner Bros.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the movie succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.