"Dune" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
When I heard that Denis Villeneuve was set to remake "Dune", I had my doubts. Villeneuve has made some great, awe-inspiring movies over the last few years, so his choice to attempt to remake the David Lynch 1984 film (which both are based off the novel by Frank Herbert) was an interesting one, considering Lynch's film had been a critical failure. However, I would say Villeneuve did an excellent job bringing the novel to life, with compelling characters and absolutely beautiful cinematography.
The film follows young Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), who is the son of the Duke, Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). He is gifted (or cursed) with magical powers, able to control the actions of people by using a different type of special voice. He also has visions of a beautiful girl (Zendaya), who resides on the dangerous planet of Arrakis.
However, they are threatened by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), who is furious that his empire has been driven off the planet by the Emperor's assignment of the planet to the Atreides family. While the Atreides try to harvest the "spice" that will help save the rest of the human race, the Baron and his forces attack our protagonists, hoping to end the Atreides clan once and for all.
One of the best things about this film, I would say, is the casting of these characters. Alongside the main protagonists and antagonists, we have Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Dave Bautista, to just name a few. Every actor in this film perfectly portray the character they are playing, and they really bring the novel to life on screen.
At the same time, Villeneuve, along with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth, drafted a screenplay that really brings the viewer into the fantasy world that they are adapting. They create these worlds and characters in such a way that the viewer feels like they are really experiencing these events, and they care about every single character in the film.
But the one thing that brings all of this together is the absolutely beautiful cinematography by Greig Fraser. I would be shocked if he wasn't nominated for the Oscar this next year, and even more shocked if he doesn't win it. He captures everything that we need for this film to work. The planets and characters are beautifully shot, and makes the viewer feel as if they're experiencing a real world, rather than a fantasy. I would say this is perhaps the best thing of the film, but it's so hard to pick one thing as this film works in almost every aspect.
However, the one thing I didn't like was the pacing of this film. This movie was around two and a half hours, and yet Villeneuve split the book into two different films. Because of this, the movie really seems like a set up for the second film, with us not even meeting Zendaya's character fully until the last fifteen minutes. It doesn't seem like it is a complete film. Also, there are just many scenes throughout that drag, and it seems like there's not really a direction we're heading. But then, at the same time, the film feels rushed in a way, almost giving the viewer no pay off for what they just witnessed. I think if Villeneuve did a better job at pacing the film, it could have been a better and more engaging film.
Overall, I think Villeneuve did an excellent job bringing this world to life, even though the pacing brought it down a bit. It was interesting to see what he did with these characters and this fantasy lore, and I can't wait to see what he does with the second part of this fantasy epic.