Director Denis Villeneuve brings his epic and stylistic flair to the remake of one of the biggest sci-fi films of all time, Dune. If you have seen Sicario or Blade Runner 2049, you know his imagery is operatic with every detail being a striking image.
It is the first of a planned two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert, primarily covering the first half of the book. Set in the far future, it follows Paul Atreides, as he and his family, the noble House Atreides, are thrust into a war for the dangerous desert planet Arrakis, between the native Fremen people and the enemy invaders, the House Harkonnen. The film stars an ensemble cast including Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
Dune has been considered an “unfilmable” work due to its breadth and complexity of plots, and prior attempts but in a post Game of Thrones world, how does this hold up?
Well it’s long. The film clocks in at right under 3 hours and it’s scope and vast amount of characters, houses, prophecies, and such will have you feel like you are watching an entire season of Game of Thrones in one sitting. However, if you can stand to be in a theater that long during pandemic with strangers or choose to watch it on HBO Max (and pause, go do something else, come back to it later) you will be treated to one of the BEST modern science fiction adaptations ever made.
It’s really that good and it’s a shame that more people will probably stream it (like me) instead of going to the theater to see it but it is what it is.
Everything from the costuming to the ships and various designs of the houses throughout the Empire look epic and big in scope. Villeneuve attention to detail is meticulous.
In case you know nothing about Dune, here is a basic premise for the film:
In 10191, Duke Leto I of House Atreides, ruler of the ocean planet Caladan, is assigned by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV to serve as fief ruler of Arrakis, a harsh desert planet. Arrakis is the only source of melange, or “spice”, a priceless substance that extends human vitality and is critical for interstellar travel. They are to replace the House Harkonnen, who have withdrawn from Arrakis on Shaddam’s orders. In reality, Shaddam intends to use his Sardaukar troops to eradicate House Atreides and stage a coup to allow House Harkonnen to re-take the planet shortly after their arrival. Leto is apprehensive of the assignment, but sees it as an opportunity to bond with Arrakis’ native population, the Fremen, as a first step to bring peace throughout all the Houses.
Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica is an acolyte of the Bene Gesserit, an exclusive sisterhood who wields advanced physical and mental abilities. Although Jessica was instructed to bear a daughter as part of the Gesserit’s breeding program to create the Kwisatz Haderach, a messianic superbeing, but for her love for Leto she bore a son, Paul. Throughout his life, Paul is trained by Leto’s aides, Duncan Idaho, Gurney Halleck and the Mentat Thufir Hawat, while Jessica trains Paul in Bene Gesserit disciplines. Paul is troubled by visions of the future, a fact he only shares with Jessica and Duncan. Because of these visions, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam comes to Caladan and subjects Paul to the gom jabbar, a deadly test to assess its subject’s humanity, which he passes.
So if you are still with me, that’s the whole story of Dune. And this is apparently only Part One. Villeneuve has already said he plans to finish the story. And I hope he does. The film doesn’t end on a cliffhanger per se but it does leave the story wide open with a group of new characters and Paul’s future being the one thing that could either save everyone or bring about unending holy war.
In conclusion, Dune is a film that will no doubt be winning some Oscars for its visuals and costuming. If you can go see it in a theater I would suggest it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that for a film that is almost 3 hours long, stream it on HBO Max, HipsterZOMBIEJoint Experience highly recommends it.
I wasn’t sure a Dune remake would work, but I was pleasantly surprised!