The Harshest Of Environments
Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows casts his eye over Denis Villeneuve’s Dune out in cinemas now…
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgеrd, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem
Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi epic has had a very checkered production and release history. The pandemic forced Warner Bros. to put it back to this autumn and right up until its release it was possible that it could have been pushed back again.
David Lynch’s adaptation from way back in 1984 apparently didn’t quite capture Herbert’s world of strange religions and giant worms and Villeneuve is a filmmaker with a very good reputation for creating quality movies. His Blade Runner sequel Blade Runner 2049 was a very decent followup to Scott’s groundbreaking 1981 film so his pedigree was definitely there.
Dune, or Dune Part One, is out at last, so the question to ask is: does it work better than Lynch’s version? I have to admit two things reviewing this: firstly it has been a long time since I saw the 1984 version so my memory of it is very faint indeed and secondly I have’t read Herbert’s novel. So reviewing it purely as a cinema going experience, Villeneuve’s Dune is a visually handsome big screen film. Like Scott to a certain extent, the director knows how to give films that extra sheen, heft and dramatic weight. His previous two sci-fi efforts, Arrival and the aforementioned Blade Runner 2049, are visual treats and Dune doesn’t disappoint in the onscreen stakes. Paul Atreides, played by Chalamet, is the son of Duke Leo Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and the family is thrown into the chaos of an unknown galaxy with warring families.
There is real power in Villeneuve’s take here with the images and editing offering a truly memorable experience for the viewers. In terms of its cast, Isaac is excellent and Chalamet is a suitably naive figure thrown into the maelstrom. Momoa makes for a very serviceable Duncan Idaho and Rebecca Ferguson is very good as Paul’s mother Lady Rebecca Atreides. Javier Bardem as Fremen Feyd Rautha is a rugged, liberated maverick. Zendaya’s role feels a little flimsy but perhaps it will be developed further in a second film.
Dune is a cerebral science fiction story which offers a darker, more thoughtful take on the topics of religion, demagoguery and environmental challenges. In terms of pacing, Dune is fairly full-on until its last 45 mins where Paul and Rebecca find themselves among the Fremen in the harsh deserts of Arrakis.
Dune isn’t Star Wars and it could be a hard sell to audiences raised on Lucas’ sci-fi fripperies as it is designed to be a lot more hard hitting. The film cost $165m to make which is less than the Marvel and DC superhero movies and it has grossed $30 to $40m outside of the US as of this writing. Villeneuve does has a deft hand when it comes to sci-fi and Dune is a film that really comes to life on the big screen. It does set matters up for a second film, which I believe follows the book fairly closely.
Dune is blessed with a very accomplished cast and a very steady hand on the cinematic tiller from Villeneuve so hopefully the second film will come out. Unlike Lynch’s eccentric adaptation, 2021’s Dune feels like a more faithful version of Herbert’s vision.
Watch the film’s trailer
The Harshest Of Environments Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows casts his eye over Denis Villeneuve’s Dune out in cinemas now… Dune Director: Denis Villeneuve Stars: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgеrd, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem Villeneuve’s adaptation of
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