Dune is 'an atmospheric epic that cries out to be seen on the biggest screen possible'
- Credit: Chiabella James
Paul Steward reviews movie Dune, which can be seen at Saffron Screen this weekend.
Based on the acclaimed novel by science fiction author Frank Herbert, Timothée Chalamet leads a star-studded cast as the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset in the galaxy.
Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve takes the helm, having adapted the novel alongside Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth.
Assembling an impressive cast, the French-Canadian filmmaker focuses on the first half of the book, whilst a second part has recently been green lit by studio Warner Bros for 2023.
Set in the distant future, Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides, son and heir to Oscar Isaac’s Duke Leto Atreides.
Trained by his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) in the ways of the mystical Bene Gesserit, Paul’s life takes a turn when his father accepts stewardship of the dangerous desert planet Arrakis, thrusting house Atreides into a conflict with the aggressive Harkonnen, as they vie for control of the planet's supply of ‘Spice’, the key to interstellar travel and the most precious resource known to man.
Widely acknowledged as an unfilmable tome, Dune has a notoriously labyrinthine narrative founded in deep mythology, yet Villeneuve manages to make it accessible, whilst remaining faithful to the source.
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With a deliberate almost meditative pace, the story is given time to breathe, as we are gradually introduced to the many characters that inhabit this complex world.
With dragonfly-esque helicopters, giant sandworms and vast desert ships, the film is massive in scale and visually stunning.
Chalamet proves to be an engaging lead alongside Ferguson’s secretive Lady Jessica and the pair's mother-son relationship is at the film's core.
Stellan Skarsgård, almost unrecognisable under a mountain of prosthetic make up, is thoroughly creepy as the villainous Barron Harkonnen, and Dave Bautista brings menace to the role of his right-hand man The Beast.
Jason Momoa’s brilliantly named Duncan Idaho injects some humour into the otherwise earnest script, while the fleeting appearances of Zendaya in Paul’s Spice fuelled visions tease a more prominent role in part two.
And that’s the film's only real flaw. As brilliant as it is, it doesn’t feel like a complete story. Just the first chapter, with so much more to come.
Its measured pace and long runtime may not be to everyone’s taste, but the elaborate narrative and richly detailed world building is something fans of thought-provoking sci-fi will lap up.
Skilfully adapting a notoriously complicated story, Villeneuve brings his art house sensibilities to a blockbuster audience. Accompanied by a booming Hans Zimmer score, Dune is beautifully realised and completely absorbing.
An atmospheric epic that cries out to be seen on the biggest screen possible.