Australia, it’s finally our turn to experience Dune.
Few films in recent memory have had this much hype in the build up to it’s release. With filming completed way back in July 2019 and an original release date scheduled for 2020, the delay to 2021 due to COVID-19 has only added to the anticipation. The initial trailer, released over a year ago, had the internet buzzing over its incredible first look visuals.
Many had speculated that Frank Herbert’s original 1965 science fiction novel was too complex for a film to do its story justice. Previous adaptations in David Lynch’s 1984 film and a mini-series produced in 2000 failed to capture audiences, lacking the spectacle and detail that fans wanted from the book. Visionary director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) stated his goal was always to adapt the novel into a two-part film series, and as his film begins it makes that intention clear from the outset. Dune: Part 1 lights up the screen, letting the audience know that this is indeed just the beginning. A new world awaits, and its story is going to take time.
Dune tells the tale of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding. Hailing from the ocean planet Caladan, and heir to the throne of House Atreides, Paul travels to the harsh desert planet of Arrakis to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over Arrakis’ exclusive supply of the precious resource “Spice”, new alliances with the planets native population must be formed in order to survive.
With a massive budget of $165million USD and a run time of 156 minutes, Villeneuve has made the most of his opportunity, building entire worlds in detail to bring the book to life on the big screen. Teaming up with a number of past collaborators including visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert, the visuals are simply incredible. The use of colour, contrasts and shadows make for amazing shots, and Villeneuves ability to show scale in set design really add to the dynamic of how epic these scenes are. As much as the action and special effects are fantastic, it never feels like the film is relying on them to keep the story moving. Hans Zimmer’s booming symphonic score adds power to every explosive battle, and really needs to be heard on the large cinema system to be fully appreciated.
Blockbuster movies always attract large star power, and Dune is certainly not lacking in this regard. Timothée Chalamet plays the lead in the film, Paul Atreides. Rebecca Ferguson is a standout as his mother, Lady Jessica. Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac and Zendaya all play significant roles, and Stellan Skarsgård is perfect in his role as antagonist Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
There is lot of source material to unpack with Dune, but any issues are largely overshadowed by the scope and ambition of Denis Villeneuves’ visually brilliant adaptation. Much like Peter Jacksons incredibly successful Lord Of The Rings films, it takes time to build worlds and bring stories such as these to life. International audiences agree, as Dune has already been heralded a success with Dune: Part Two confirmed just a week after its domestic release, with a planned release in October 2023.
I can’t believe “This is only the beginning”, bring on the next one….
Movie Review By Samuel Phillips