Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) and featuring a killer cast including Timothee Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), Rebecca Ferguson (The Greatest Showman) and Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the sci-fi blockbuster of the year is finally here.
Written by Becca Johnson
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a young man born into a great destiny, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his people. As the planet falls into huge conflict over the spice, the most precious resource in existence, Paul and his family must conquer their fear to survive.
Having a cast this star-studded definitely paid off, every performance managing to deliver. Rebecca Ferguson was a stand-out as Lady Jessica, the Mother of Paul Atreides who is competent in using 'the voice', a skill enabling her to manipulate speech to take complete control over others. Jason Momoa (Aquaman) also impressed as Duncan Idaho, a great fighter and commander who does his best to protect his people. Josh Brolin (Avengers: Endgame) brings humour and heart to the movie with his character Gurney Halleck. Timothee Chalamet's performance as Paul Atreides was fantastic, proving he can lead a movie with ease. Paul is a very troubled character who battles with who he wants to be and who he is expected to be, Chalamet managing to perfectly capture every emotion. With a cast this big and a story this dense, many actors unfortunately did not receive enough screen-time for us to root for their character and learn enough about them. Oscar Isaac was under-utilised even though he was in a leading role and gave a great performance, Stellan Skarsgard could've been a much more menacing villain if given more time to shine, and fan favourite Zendaya (Euphoria) mostly only appears in dream sequences with few lines delivered.
Already proving himself in the sci-fi department with previous accolades Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Denis Villeneuve was clearly the man for the job. His direction is phenomenal, which is apparent in every element from the acting performances to the visuals. Dune is a sight to behold, featuring some of the most gorgeous cinematography of the year as we venture to the planet Arrakis. Every shot appears to be meticulously crafted, focusing in on the characters as the vast landscapes fill the background.
Hans Zimmer impresses yet again with a heart-pounding original score, pairing well with the cinematography to create an immersive experience. As epic as the score was, it unfortunately took precedence over the dialogue at times, especially during act 2 when a lot of whispering is used. It can sometimes feel difficult to hear line delivery from the likes of Oscar Isaac and Rebecca Ferguson, which hinders enjoyment as its a huge world being crafted with lots of exposition. It definitely demands a rewatch in that respect.
It's important to remember before heading in to see Dune that this is only half a story; those familiar with Frank Herbert's novels will already be aware of the scope of the source material, and the title claims its only Part 1 when the play button is pushed. On one hand, the story feels slightly incomplete, as the movie features a lot of exposition and world building, feeling more like set-up than a complete story. On the other hand, this is hopefully only the beginning of what Dune could be, with a lot coming up to look forward to. Villeneuve does well to include a healthy amount of both character development and world building, with action-packed scenes aplenty to balance out the heavy exposition. Thankfully, Dune shows rather than tells, allowing the audience to think for themselves and piece it all together. It does its best to avoid confusion, and if Part 2 hopefully comes to fruition, it could be even bigger and better.
Dune is a masterful sci-fi blockbuster that is going to please the majority of its audience. The visuals are crying out to be seen on the biggest screen possible, easily becoming the movies standout. Every performance delivers, Zimmers score is impeccable, the characters are likeable and the action scenes are well choreographed and entertaining. Unfortunately, its difficult to give Dune full marks as at times it felt like it didn't truly get going, and we needed much more development as certain talents were underutilised. That being said, Villeneuve did his best to include vital information to ensure the audience understood the complex story, and has set up a delectable world that can only get more exciting from here. It is a movie that is likely preferred after a couple of rewatches, an activity that fans and critics alike have not found a chore to undertake.