Denis Villeneuve directs the newest adaptation of “Dune” to great success. Based on Frank Herbert’s classic book of the same name, “Dune” tells the story of the son of a noble family tasked with maintaining the universe’s most precious resource in the desert planet of Arrakis – also known as Dune.
Perhaps the most excelling quality of the film is its cinematography. Every single shot of the movie is mesmerizing and beautiful. Cinematographer, Greig Fraser, presents his most thrilling work with the camera yet, delivering unforgettable shots and sequences that manage to capture the scope and beauty of the world of Dune. Fraser, known for movies like “Rogue One” and “Zero Dark Thirty”, provides the dune world of Arrakis with life and magnitude. The film is justified by its visuals alone. However, “Dune” has a lot more to offer.
Timothée Chalamet shines on screen as Paul Atreides, offering a complex and at times, nuanced performance that draws audiences in. Rebecca Fergusson and Oscar Isaac are also on par with Chalamet as the Duke and Lady Jessica. With supporting roles, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin and Jason Mamoa ensure that “Dune” has enough memorable characters in its roster.
Full with big names and Hollywood stars, “Dune” might struggle to balance its huge cast of characters. However, the plot does not suffer from this wide variety. On the contrary, the big names behind some characters add even more strength to characters with relatively smaller parts, solidifying their time on screen as brilliant.
Given the grand scope of the original source material, Villeneuve’s decision to split the film into two parts is a welcome one. This allows the film to take its time to develop characters and relations while also world building in a natural way that isn’t forced or sped up like in previous iterations of “Dune”. Because of this, “Dune” might come across as slow at times to some viewers. However, even the slower moments of the film are radiant with powerful imagery and a strong score that leads the audience to a point of reflection and contemplation mid-movie.
Villeneuve achieves here what many thought impossible and captures the essence and scope of the book perfectly. The more abstract ideas and notions of the book are translated and captured in a way that only works through “Dune’s” more impressionistic moments. At times, such moments might come across as confusing or opaque to audience members not familiar with the book. This, however, does not detract from the film as the whole of the story can still be appreciated. It only adds another layer for those who have spent time with the original novel. Overall, both themes and ideas come alive in the movie to different degrees depending on the familiarity with the source material of the viewer. One thing is for sure, part one of “Dune”sets up a great deal for the second part to resolve.
The movie is also bolstered by Hans Zimmer’s genius score. This generation’s John Williams, Zimmer delivers a soundtrack that channels all the elements of the film. Both action scenes and more solemn sequences seem magisterial and grandiose thanks to the wonderful score. His score encases the magnitude of the desert and the things hidden within it.
“Dune” is not only a success; it is an achievement in filmmaking courtesy of Villeneuve’s genius behind the camera. Having directed movies like “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049”, Villeneuve has proven again and again that his vision pushes the limit of what audiences thought possible. With an incredibly strong cast to bear the weight of the extensive plot, “Dune” manages to stand alone even as a first part of a larger story. “Dune” is a visual achievement in filmmaking, the action sequences and characters add up to a must-see science fiction film.