Like many who ventured out to see Denis Villeneuve’s new film Dune (2021) on the big screen, I had little prior knowledge of the source material. Obviously, many have read the books or seen the 1984 David Lynch adaptation – which I watched less than 24 hours prior to seeing this film – but it’s likely many went into this sci-fi film with no connection outside of the stellar cast and the director’s pretty strong filmography. I enjoyed so much about this film, and I’m definitely considering reading…or listening…to the books – but there was something keeping me from absolutely loving it.
Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) will one day become the head of the Atreides household, but his father Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) has been put in charge of the planet Arrakis – also known as Dune – where the most important resource is harvested. Paul is more than just an heir, and he is uneasy about his role in the fate of the world. I believe it is the apprehension in this take on Paul that I think gave me some pause in truly embracing this movie.
There are so many talented actors in this film. Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, and Zendaya all have minutes of screen time. You never really get enough of any of them like this first film (yes it is listed as Part 1 in the opening) is definitely about Paul. Chalamet is up for the role, and carries the film quite effortlessly. Despite not fully loving the angsty “my role is a burden” approach to this character, I did find Paul to be empathetic.
Cinematographer Greig Fraser and director Villeneuve – and, of course, the entire VFX crew – have created a visual masterpiece. This is nothing new for fans of Villeneuve’s, as his movies are often visually impressive…but there is something next level about the look of Dune. It was clear that Villeneuve found his home in science fiction a while back, but Dune is his magnum opus.
Dune is a movie that I can see myself revisiting and really anticipating the future films to follow. I understand why so many people have loved the series for so long, and I hope this is the movie that they’ve been waiting for. Villeneuve wants us to see this on the big screen – and if you are able to do so safely, I recommend that experience. I do think rewatching this on HBO Max is likely, though, as sitting in the world was a lot of fun. Dune earns the Must See rating.