When Denis Villeneuve signed on to direct a 21st century version of the classic science fiction novel… Dune For author Frank Herbert, he was undoubtedly aware of the book’s long and often tormented history in Hollywood. After it was previously believed that the novel could not be filmed and turned into a movie, it was finally converted by David Lynch into the film that was notorious for being lopsided in 1984, and then a limited series was produced for the channel. Sci-Fi Channel which gained some momentum in the year 2000. But these works never really manage to convey the epic and spiritual elements of Herbert’s novel. Can Villeneuve, who can be said to have achieved the impossible with the second part of Blade Runner Wonderful, that Paul Atredis’ story finally gets it right? Unfortunately the answer is…not quite. For all the glamorous photography, huge star roster, and absolutely gorgeous depiction of some distinct details in Herbert’s novel, his version of Dune You cannot provide a complete package.
The director, co-writers Jon Spites and Eric Roth, and the producing company took Legendary Pictures, the seemingly logical decision to divide the huge novel into two separate films, so in fact what appears on the screen from the title of the film is Dune, Part One. This decision is not only to allow many of the small moments in the book or the supporting characters to breathe more, but also perhaps for the film to be very faithful to Herbert’s work. But we all know that what works in novels may not work when converted into a movie format, and vice versa, and the biggest mistake Villeneuve makes with Dune, Part One His second half seems slow and erratic, as if he doesn’t know how or where to end… before it ends abruptly.
Timothée Chalamet plays Paul Atreides, a descendant of the Atredis family in a distant future where there is a substance known as Spice The spice is the most valuable commodity in the known universe. The Emperor sends Paul’s father, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaacs’ burdened with responsibilities), to the desert planet Arrakis to handle the production of the spice. And so the whole family packs up and moves their headquarters, including the Duke’s military advisors (and Paul’s mentors) Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa), Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), and seemingly every soldier and servant who works for Atreides. What awaits them on this planet also known as Dune? A future is certainly uncertain, but the Duke has a plan: harnessing the Power of the Desert.
On the other hand, the dreamer, misunderstood and tormented Paul witnesses prophetic dreams about a mysterious girl, a native of the planet Arakis known as Freemen. This girl is Chani played by Zendaya, which some viewers may be upset because she barely appears in the movie for more than the mentioned dreams. But we repeat, the title is called “Part One”, so we have to be patient.
The film opens with Zendaya’s voiceover explaining the beauty of her planet, and briefly summarizes the violent history of Arakis, filmed as it is amidst the galaxy’s greatest fears due to its natural abundance of spice. This scene is considered a great success in terms of revealing the story, because this process constantly threatened to thwart any previous work based on a novel. DuneUnfortunately, those responsible for the film do not always succeed on this same front afterwards. The explanation that comes later may be about suits Stillsuit, the life-saving and water-saving suit, is amazing and great for newcomers, but for people who know the source material, they may feel these moments disrupt the flow. DuneLike the sands of Arakis that ruin the spice machine.
However, Villeneuve often amazes us with his ability to take tried-and-true sci-fi concepts and put a new twist on them. Let’s take the penny geserite (Bene Gesserit) for example, a group of alien witches who possess supernatural mental powers, if you will. Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica represented by Rebecca Ferguson, is a member of this group, and early on we see Paul teaching the peculiar ability to mentally coerce others by modulating one’s voice. Here Villeneuve relies on sound design to highlight the strange manipulation of Chalamet’s words, but he also depicts the moment with a series of flashing images as time seems to have been shifted. This gives an unsettling and potent feeling, as it puts us in the same mindset as the person under the vocal attack.
The script also benefits from the occasional addition of moments of humor in the events that make up the film’s universe, and the casting of charismatic characters like Momoa and Brolin helps push those human elements into place. Both actors’ characters basically play a brother or uncle role to Paul, teaching him how to fight and helping him understand that he is the heir to this great family. On the other hand, Jessica (Ferguson) knows there might be something more exciting waiting for her son on Arakis. This eventually leads to a agonizing moment of accusation by Paul to his mother, and the look on Ferguson’s face tells us that… Maybe he’s not wrong?
Indeed, the entire cast delivers a powerful performance, filled with famous faces from Javier Purdem as the Freeman Commander, to Charlotte Rampling as the venerable mother of Benny Jesseret, to David Debsmalchen, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and more. Then the bad guys come too. Stellan Skarsgård gives a brilliant and sinister performance as Baron Vladimir Harkonen, the curse of the Atredis family, while his monster nephew Rabanne (Dave Batista), evil enough that any memory of Drax will be completely forgotten while watching this movie.
and can Dune Certainly transporting the viewer to the exotic landscapes of this planet through his many technical achievements in production design, costumes, photography, sound and visual effects and more. From picturesque scenes and exotic planes, to gigantic and terrifying sandworms that can devour a ship as easily as they can eat a bunch of bad guys (and sometimes good guys), to the brilliant sparkle of spice itself shining across the surface of Arakis, the movie spares no detail to immerse us in this fantasy world. .
This means that there is a lot for the viewer to like in DuneBut I couldn’t fall in love with the movie itself. Villeneuve has proven to be a master of the kind of clever and distinctive science fiction that a modern film based on DuneThe film is a triumph when it comes to its visual and sound effects. But the latter half of the film suffers from a bit of a loss as a whole, which hampers and distracts from its beauty, it’s a story that ends in chapter 2, and that shows. Just as Duke Leto himself discovered, harnessing the power of Dune Not an easy task.
Translated by Dima Muhanna
Denis Villeneuve’s film Dune is beautifully scenery and faithful to Frank Herbert’s original novel. Or for the first half, only. And therein lies the problem with the film, because by cutting this story into two parts, Villeneuve overburdens the first part of Dune with a lot of premise and setting without a clear way to end things…the movie slows down, and eventually gets too long. It’s a technically brilliant and visually stunning movie with a top-notch cast and deep sci-fi concepts. So it’s a pity that it seems to slow in the second half of it.