REVIEW: ‘Dune’


“Dreams are messages from the deep” (the opening text for this movie). I wonder what deep message my 10-year-old subconscious was trying to tell me when I dreamt I was being chased by a little old lady with a shotgun? (No, I am not joking.)

Denis Villenuve returns to the director’s and writer’s chair to grace us with his towering presence once again to deliver “Dune,” both an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel of the same name, and a remake of the 1984 film.

This time around, Villenuve’s adaptation stars the likes of Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, and Josh Brolin (to name just a few). The narrative is still the same: the son of a duke, Paul Atreides (Chalemet), is entrusted with the task of ensuring that his family and the people of his planet have a future despite looming dangers. What results from the familiar plot is an aurally and visually breathtaking film that left me stunned beyond belief.

Starting off with the visuals because … wow. From the moment the movie begins, the visuals immediately captured my attention. Villenuve in his past big sci-fi projects (“Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049”)  always managed to present a perfect grand scope, and with this film, he has truly outdone himself. I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the most gorgeous films I have seen in my life.

There was a sequence in which two characters come face to face with a giant sandworm, and the monumental scale of this scene had me stunned and glued to my seat, rendering me unable to move or look away. This is just one of many scenes that took my breath away, which permits me to make you all one simple promise: watching this on a television or computer screen will never allow you to get the full grand-scale experience a movie theater provides.

Furthermore, I hope seeing this film will convince more studios to utilize cinematographer Greig Fraser more often. Not only did this man helm the best-looking Star Wars film of all time (“Rogue One”), but can now say he captured the imagery of one of the most visually stunning films ever made. 

As for sound design and music, once again, I have nothing but absolute praise. Hans Zimmer, who composed the film, has brought forth yet another masterpiece of a soundtrack. Each piece of music fits into this film with such mesmerizing grace it gave me serious chills. This is in large part due to the fact that “Dune” has been a passion project for Zimmer, who turned down working with his long-time friend Christopher Nolan on “Tenet” to work on this film.

I could feel, through the powerful songs, that Zimmer was having the time of his life. His work here is Oscar win-worthy (not just a nomination, a win).

Now for sound design: masterclass. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Villenuve’s previous work, but the sound team has knocked it out of the park; so much so that many times I felt I was being pushed back in my seat due to the incredible force behind it. The sound design here is the best I’ve heard all year and actually made me a little emotional.

All the technical aspects alone are enough to make me say: “go see this one in theaters immediately!” Every ounce of this movie is a magnificent technical achievement and I eagerly await the next installment of the story to see what visual and audio marvels await. 

As for the story, this is where many viewers might have a problem. It should not come as a shock to anyone who has read the original source material that the overall story of “Dune” is chock-full of lore. From the very moment the dialogue begins, there is exposition.

For me that was not a big issue, as I felt Villenuve and co-writer Eric Roth did a great job of condensing all the lore so the audience would not be overwhelmed by all the information presented.

For some, the lore and exposition might be a bore and cause them to be turned off instantly by the first half of this movie. For me, it was a necessary way of introducing who the characters are and what this world is all about.

Characterwise, certain viewers may also come away feeling unsatisfied. I will admit, some characters are kind of boring and not very interesting. While I wasn’t super impressed with every character, I thought most were intriguing and found myself caring about what happens to many of them. My favorite character is easily Duncan Idaho, played excellently by Jason Mamoa. Where the film could have used him as nothing more than a simple, lifeless soldier (as he was portrayed in the previous film adaptation), this movie does away with that in favor of a loveable, big brother-esque character to Chalamet’s Atreides. 

Overall, this film is amazing. That being said, you want to know the craziest part of this entire film? This is only part one! Recently, part two has been greenlit, so we will fortunately see the rest of the story on the big screen, but not until sometime in the future.

Because of this, my readers, I will not be grading this movie. The story is incomplete. Instead, I will wait for the release of part 2 when the entire story’s revealed.

If “Dune” is playing in a theater near you, please do not waist your time on HBO Max: go see it on the big screen! It is worth every penny, and I look forward to the conclusion of this fantastic story.

Jury declares: Please stand by…