'Dune' Review ★★★★★

Directed by Denis Villeneuve   |   Released 21 October 2021   |   Runtime: 2h 35m

 

| An epic blockbuster sensation made for the big screen

Enter the future and be a part of the war for the dangerous desert planet that is Arrakis. In this full-blown and enchanting sci-fi that fans across the planet have been waiting for, you’ll be thrust into the fight between Paul Atreides and the noble House Atreides, the Fremen, and House Harkonnen.

Dune’s Star Wars-esque style will pull you in from the beginning, but this blockbuster will also resonate with fans of Mad Max, Blade Runner, The Hunger Games… well, you see where we are going with this.

Dune is based on the 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert and primarily covers the first half of the book. This isn’t the first time the intergalactic battle has been depicted in film though, with David Lynch releasing the first film adaptation in 1984, followed by John Harrison’s 2000 TV miniseries and 2003 sequel. Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation generated a lot of interest and excitement since its announced release, especially as the Director is known for immersing audiences in his storytelling, whether through the action-packed Sicario, the visually immaculate Blade Runner 2049, or the metaphorical Arrival.

In the far future, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac; Ex Machina) is granted the stewardship of the dangerous desert planet Arrakis (aka Dune), which hosts the only source of the most valuable substance in the universe, spice, a drug able to extend human life, levels of thought, and make faster-than-light travel practical. A risky but necessary manoeuvre for his house, the Duke is accompanied to the desert planet by his concubine Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson; Mission Impossible Rogue Nation), and son and heir, Paul (Timothée Chalamet; Call me by Your Name). Lady Jessica is a Bene Gesserit, part of a religious sisterhood with political influence across planets, whilst Paul, unsure of his powers, continues to question his prophecies.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.”

- Lady Jessica Atreides (Dune)

The Duke has no doubt that his opportunity is part of a trap set by his enemies, and what ensues is an epic perilous road for his family and most trusted advisors, made more threatening by the presence of giant sandworms, the treacherous landscape, and the native Fremen who live deep in the desert.

Dune offers an ensemble cast with Chalamet, Ferguson and Isaac portraying the family of Atreides. The leading roles are each perfect in their own right, with Chalamet particularly coming into his own as the archetypal hero, offering a performance that goes deep into Paul’s inner workings and making the young son an admirable and brave leader.

“There’s something happening to me. Something waking up in my mind. I can’t control it”

- Paul Atreides (Dune)

Also starring is Zendaya (The Greatest Showman) as Chani, a mysterious and enchanting Fremen with more to her than meets the eye. Jason Momoa (Aquaman) is the Duke’s right hand man, and in typical Momoa fashion, gives a meaty and brutal performance in many of the menacing sequences. Josh Brolin (Avengers: End Game) also shows off his skills as Paul’s weapons teacher, with a fiery and likeable spirit.

When it comes to the film’s villans, there’s enough of them to go round. Stellan Skarsgård (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is the grotesque, deceitful and wicked Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, and Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) is the violent Beast Rabban Harkonnen. The stellar cast doesn’t stop there though, with Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Rogue One) as Dr. Liet Kynes, Charlotte Rampling (Red Sparrow) as Reverend Mother Mohiam, and Javiar Bardem (Skyfall) as Stilgar, leader of the Fremen tribe, Sietch Tabr.

Dune excels beyond belief. Arguably the best film of 2021,Villeneuve captures the sci-fi saga on such a scale that it should only be seen on the big-screen, allowing audiences to get sucked into the mouth of the sandworm, and get lost along with Paul and his epic journey. The world that Villeneuve creates is nothing short of spectacular – everything is enormously beautiful and otherworldly, even hypnotic, as our leading characters chase the sandstorms, activate their advanced fighting shields, go full-speed in mosquito-like Ornithopters, and come face to face with the enchanting workings of the spice.

Even better, none other than Hans Zimmer, creates a mesmerising score which emphasises the emotional weight, dangers, and operatic style of Villeneuve’s on-screen adaptation. For fans of Zimmer’s work, there’s enough to be reminiscent of, as the Dune soundtrack echoes styles of Gladiator and Interstellar, fuelled with whisperings, layers of intensity, and explosive climaxes.

Dune is a sci-fi blockbuster of our time, and the pacing is well thought out, making the slow-burn story enthralling, and worthy of investing in. As the final sequence plays out, the only question on your mind-blown head should be; just how long do we have to wait for part two?

Dune premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival this year and will be released theatrically on 21 October.

 

‘DUNE’ PRESS INVITE – A special thanks to Warner Bros. UK for inviting us to the IMAX screener in Leicester Square pre-release.

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