Set in the far future, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is the gifted heir of House Atreides, where his father Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) has accepted stewardship of the most dangerous planet in the universe, Arrakis. The desert planet is habited by the Freman, giant sandworms, and the most valuable resource, “the spice”, a drug that extends human life and is necessary for interstellar travel. Paul travels to planet dune with his father, mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and their army with caution as the previous rulers, rival House Harkonnen, led by Baron Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgård) has secret motives to overrule the planet. Seen with a great destiny, Paul and house Atreides must join forces with the Freman, led by Stilgar (Javier Bardem) and the girl of Paul’s visions, Chani (Zendeya), to bring peace to Arrakis.
If there was ever a filmmaker to bring life to an insanely detailed and almost unfilmable franchise to life, it would be Denis Villeneuve. Rather than being a bombastic sci-fi action that most people are used to seeing, Dune is a slowly-paced and epic political story that allows you to be cultivated by the dangerous universe captured with amazing cinematography and minimalist production design. The social commentary of environmentalism and religion is just as relevant as when author Frank Herbert first released the science fiction landmark in 1965 as it is now. The decision to adapt the first book into two films is a double-edged sword as it does allow for the audience to truly experience the complex universe and characters, fantastically portrayed by the massive cast, without rushing any important details. But on the other hand, it also feels incomplete as it heavily lays the groundwork for the future and only gives a small introductory taste in its 2 hours and 35 minutes long running time.
Overall, Dune is a grand and slowly-paced spectacle that brings Herbert’s famous novel to the big screen in a mesmerising way. While it doesn’t quite create a fully completed story and spends a bit of time towards future events, the movie is still a very impressive introduction to this universe with fantastic performances and an intriguing story that mixes politics and religious prophecies. I can absolutely recommend Dune, especially if you’re a fan of the novels or Villeneuve. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to count down the days for Part Two in 2023!
Dune is in Australian cinemas on December 2nd.