‘Dune’ Review: The sci-fi epic that we needed, exactly when we needed it

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Jackson Piercy
CONTRIBUTOR

Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) contemplating on the beaches of Caladan. Photo from imdb.com.

I don’t think it’d be hyperbole on my account to say that this film has given me hope for the film industry moving forward. I’m perfectly aware of the fact that we’re still in a pandemic, but a very selfish part of me loves seeing that movie theaters have been as full as they’ve been since the beginning of 2020. It’s not another Marvel movie that has seemingly resurrected the movie theater, nor any real massive franchise, but a space opera about a book that nobody has either read or could possibly understand from reading. A space opera, at this scale and with this amount of talent both in front of and behind the camera, may have saved the entire film industry as we’ve known it for the last century.

Arrakis has been under the brutal thumb of the major House Harkonnen, led by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellen Skarsgård) and his nephew Rabban (Dave Bautista), until the Emperor of the Known Universe seemingly pulls the plug on the Harkonnens’ fiefdom over the planet after 80 years. Arrakis is the only planet in the universe to contain the spice melange, which is both a powerful hallucinogen used by the native Fremen population and the substance that makes interstellar travel possible. Because of its importance, somebody must preside over the spice mining on Arrakis, and the Emperor has laid that responsibility on House Atreides, led by Duke Leto (Oscar Issac), the Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and their son, Paul (Timothée Chalamet). House Atreides not only looks to continue mining spice, but also to make peace with the Fremen through tribe leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem), and a particular girl that Paul has been seeing in his dreams, Chani (Zendaya). Will peace be made on Arrakis? Why is House Atreides mining spice after 80 years of Harkonnen domination? I’d advise you to watch the movie to find out!

It’s so refreshing to see a bonafide massive movie in the theaters again — massive in pure scale and in box office revenue. “Dune” has always been a property that has had great difficulty in being properly translated to any screen, but I’ll say that Denis Villeneuve has had the best swing at this thing, and it’s not even close in terms of similarity to the source material. It’s easy to throw a bunch of great actors on the screen with some cool special effects and call it a day, but I can confidently say that Villeneuve’s direction is really what makes this film what it is at its core. A core, I should say, that is rock solid. All the characters are excellently portrayed, and the environments are picturesque to the descriptions from Frank Herbert’s original novel. Best of all, the exposition, which really is necessary to understanding “Dune,” is not so in-your-face as to distract from the film, for which now the sequels have more room to have more fun in this universe.

I really think we’ve caught lightning in a bottle with this picture. The only thing that really worries me about this is if every single “Dune” movie from here on out is going to be as good as this one. If that is the case, we may have the makings of one of the greatest cinematic properties, I’d argue, ever. Yes, ever.

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