I never read the novel series Dune by Frank Herbert, but I did see the 1984 film version with Sting, and I don’t remember loving it. I imagine the audience this round includes sci-fi fans who have been waiting to “see” this book come to life the right way. And then there’s people like me, who just want to see anything with Timothee Chalamet.
The first part of the film is a lot build up, distinguishing the separate factions and learning their overall purpose. At times I felt a little lost, but subtitles helped. I also caught on to some of the geo-political parallels.
Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack is brilliant. Dark, tense, and hopeful, it moves beneath the scenes with purpose. Beyond the music, I grew intently aware of the sound design overall. The creaking of metal, the swishing of spice drifting over sand, the deep-throated throttle of the sandworms.
Director Denis Villeneuve sends us into this world with transformative and expansive wide shots. Filmed for IMAX, we get another peek at how both Virtual and on location Production allows for a fully imagined landscape. Villeneuve’s vision interprets this world on a grand scale, while maintaining small, futuristic details. The sci-fi technology of things like stillsuits and the Holtzman effect are interesting, visualized with the help of CGI.
Timothee Chalamet slides into that suit perfectly as Paul Atreides, the heir to the House Atreides. We catch a few childlike expressions as he tries to hang on to his fleeting youth (he’s only fifteen). But destiny and responsibility looms, as does his inner conflict. Rebecca Ferguson is captivating as Paul’s mother Lady Jessica.
Duncan (Jason Momoa) is my favorite character and his connection to Paul is intense. He provides a touchstone with his charming engagement and natural leadership. There is probably more opportunity for humor here, and he seems to be the only one apt to offer it. Nearly everyone else is otherworldly and apathetic, on a mission. However, the future does seem to be a very dark place.
Zendaya is in it for only like a minute, teasing us in Paul’s visions with what’s to come. And apparently there’s a LOT more. Now we wait to find out when Part 2 gets the green light.