James Herebert’s Dune has been described as unfilmable over the years, Alejandro Jodorowsky tried and ultimately failed to get it to the big screen. David Lynch got a version to screen that was close but not quite grabbing the cigar which divides audiences to this day (Especially with several different versions of it in existence much like Blade Runner) and then there was a TV series which is probably closest to getting it done. But now enter Denis Villeneuve, who is the latest to attempt to do the source novel justice.
Paul Atreides (Timothee Chamolet), a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence, only those who can conquer their own fear will survive.
With a huge cast that includes Chamolet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Issac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Starsgard, Javier Bardem, David Bautista, Josh Brolin, Charlotte Rampling and David Dastmalchian among others, Villeneuve certainly has not pulled any punches in making this work.
Dune ultimately is a triumph for what Villeneuve has attempted to achieve. Rather than rushing to put it altogether in one little box ala Lynch’s version, what we have here as the opening credits tell you is ‘Part I’ so, time is taken and at times it almost seems like the characters are moving in slow-motion in and around the sumptuous backdrops of Greig Fraser’s incredible cinematography and Hans Zimmers bombastic score.
This intergalactic Game Of Thrones is heavy on exposition though, so if you fail to keep up you could get lost in all deep story, much like a 3 year old trying to explore Shakespeare’s original text.
The visuals of the various spaceships and vehicles are a incredible achievement which Villeneuve keeps reminding you of in many lingering shots of landing gear, in what seems like some form of a steam punk version of Quentin Tarantino’s foot fetish.
As much as the film succeeds it’s not without it’s failings and for that most of the short comings can be placed at the feet of the films lead Timothee Chamolet, who’s wet behind the ears rendition of Paul Atreides can be somewhat of a struggle throughout the marathon run time (Clocking in at just over 2hrs and 35 mins). Despite this Dune certainly achieves what it sets out to do.
The rest of the cast are simply magnificent, despite Jason Momoa being, well Jason Momoa and ‘Big’ Dave Bautista looking like he’s about to explode on the spot at any moment.
Dune is a perfect set up for what’s to come (Hopefully) over the next couple of instalments and beyond. Come for the spectacle but stay for some of the finest storytelling committed to screen, however don’t get caught up in the ‘greatest movie of all time’ hoopla, well at least not until Villeneuve completes his interplanetary opus.