Dune: A very strong start to the next big franchise
Warner Brothers Pictures
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Stars Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Chang Chen, Zendaya, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rempling, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem
Where to watch: Only in theatres
There have been plenty of moments throughout the history of cinema that viewers have either been lucky enough to have caught on the big screen, or wish that they could have experienced it. Films such as The Lord of The Rings trilogy, Jaws, Jurassic Park, the original three Star Wars films- all carry this enormous boast, that they were moments in cinematic history that audiences were luck enough to catch on the big screen. Denis Villeneuve's Dune joins that group, at least on a technical basis.
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, as he travels to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people.
I believe the technical aspect as the standout of the first part of two films in the franchise, deserves to get the opening paragraph. After all, on a technical basis- the film is an utter masterpiece. From the beautiful shots, each one seemingly as, if not, more beautiful than the previous. Throughout its two and a half hour run time- the cinematography is stunning, and Villeneuve uses every single trick in his bag to create the cruel yet beautiful planet of Arrakis. The visual effects play hand in hand with the cinematography as every single one of the filmmakers creations are brought to life, in the most vivid and realistic way possible. A visual stunner that would leave every type of movie fan in awe of the work they are watching play out in front of them- from the most diehard, to the casual moviegoer, none of them that watch this would be able to deny the beautiful art that they got to watch.
Following up, if not surpassing its visual masterpiece; is the incredible score. An utter masterpiece by Hans Zimmer, and arguably my favourite that he has ever done. Zimmer captures every moment perfectly. Each beat of his craft, feeling like the heartbeat of the film. Without the master craft that was Zimmers powerful score, one would be uncertain of the rest of the films feel. It captures every thing perfectly, and goes past encompassing it- rather being the strongest area of the first film.
After this is where my love for the movie turns lukewarm. One cannot deny the absolute undertaking that Villeneuve did by trying to bring this franchise to the big screen, Lynch tried and we all know how that played out. Not only this, but to condense the heavily thick novel into two parts that would play for both its diehard book fans, as well as be a blockbuster sensation for the casual moviegoer. That was something near impossible, at least so I believed. As someone that's never read the novel, Villeneuve's screenplay does its best and lays out the world as easily as he possibly could. Its for the most part easy enough to follow the various characters we meet, their histories, and their intentions- and sure plenty doesn't get explained, I would love if someone would please take the time to fill me in on how Stellan Skarsgard was flying? Thanks. Thats a nitpick though, Villeneuve's screenplay runs nearly at risk of being dumbed down too much as he does his best to catch all moviegoers up with this space based adventures world, while not feeling redundant and too heavy for those that already were aware of the work.
The story suffers from the unfortunate side effect of being the first part. This one spends so much time world building and developing its rules, that by the time the slow burn starts teetering off into the journey itself- its almost too late to get any emotional connection with the characters or the universe before the credits roll. Its the price it pays to be a two part franchise, where it benefits in taking its time to set up its stakes and rules- it pays for in the lack of any emotional connection. Its large ensemble of well familiar names led by the always incredible Timothee Chalamet all perform strongly, but outside of Chalamet's Paul, and Momoa's Duncan Idaho there's not many left after two and half hours to cling too or be invested in on an emotional basis.
Overall, its a must see in theatres solely off its technical achievements- though temper any heavy action expectations this one is more to build the universe and therefore it comes off as a slow burn for its 2.5 hour runtime. I may not have connected fully with the universe yet, but I am very excited to be apart of this journey when part two drops in 2023.