I gotta say, I didn’t care much for Dune before this, but now I totally need the second part of this series to come out as soon as possible.
Set in a far-off future where space travel and war are a common thing, Dune follows Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalet) as he’s thrust into a conflict that he’s only just beginning to understand. Along with his father, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), House Atreides is tasked with ruling over the desert world of Arrakis where the production of a valuable resource called “spice” — a drug that allows its users to hone in on a mental state that gives them heightened vitality and a new, expanded outlook on the world around them — is of the utmost importance. Met with villains from House Harkonnen that want to take back their former responsibilities on Arrakis, Paul, and his friends and family are faced with a new conflict that quickly becomes one that is unlike anything they’ve experienced before. And as the Fremen race of people fighting back on Arrakis is put into the mix, Paul’s destiny is fast-tracked in a way that he might not be ready for but has no choice but to pursue.
Directed by the always solid Denis Villeneuve, Dune is a movie that has a lot going for it right from the get-go. And while it might seem a bit slow and plodding at points, the time and dedication given to what basically amounts to a “set-up” film allow the direction and character-work to truly shine in more ways than expected. Chock-full of well-known actors fleshing out characters that are only at the beginning of their multi-movie narrative arcs, the script is a bit long in the tooth in spots simply because of how much is going on at any given time, but luckily never gives audiences something that isn’t worth seeing in the first place.
Jumping from scene to scene with a visual flair and a sense of scale that needs to be seen to be believed, everything from the production value to the musical score, to the world-building that this movie lives and dies by is deftly handled by the filmmakers in ways that hit far more than they miss. Not to mention seeing this in IMAX makes what happens onscreen feel even bigger, more expansive, and more fun to watch, and choosing to see this one on the biggest screen possible is the only way you should experience this, well, experience.
If I had to nitpick, and outside of some slow pacing and the sheer length of the film, my main gripe with this one comes down to the fact that I want more of it. Still a ways off until we get a proper second part, this movie feels incomplete and in all honesty, a prologue for something to come that will no doubt be a much grander, more action-packed, and more streamlined experience. And while there are a few actors that don’t get enough to do in the grand scheme of things mostly because there’s so much going on, it’s nice to see some high caliber people taking on roles that in any other film would have been relegated to bit parts or cameos.
Far too long yet still necessary in its runtime, Dune is a movie that’s more of an experience than something you simply throw on just for the hell of it. It’s meticulous and grand, a slow burn but exciting in its execution, and most of all, is a movie that’s only just the beginning of more to come. Dune might be an acquired taste for some, but if you want a full feeling film with more going on under the surface than the usual sci-fi affair, then look no further.