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Movie Review: A “Dune” Film Adaptation Finally Accomplished

In the past, “Dune,” considered one of the biggest science-fiction novels of all time, has been described as an unfilmable novel, with multiple failed attempts at bringing it to the screen successfully

Since the book’s release in 1965, filmmakers like Ridley Scott, David Lynch, and Alejandro Jodorowsky have all attempted to start or make a good adaptation of Dune. The first version that was actually able to make it to the screen was Lynch’s 1984 “Dune,” which was a theatrical disaster.

Director Denis Villeneuve’s highly-anticipated movie “Dune,” the first of two parts, was finally released on October 22, 2021, in theaters and on HBO Max after being delayed multiple times because of COVID-19. The film has an all-star cast with actors like Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and an unrecognizable Stellan Skarsgård.

“Dune” opens with a voice-over of Zendaya’s character, Chani, telling the story of her home planet, Arrakis, and her people, the Fremen. This desert planet is the only source for a spice that is highly sought after. Arrakis has been under the control of House Harkonnen, but they are ordered to leave and Duke Leto of House Atreides, played by Isaac, is assigned to take over. Leto’s son, Paul, played by Chalamet, who has physical and mental powers, is the main character of the film. From there, the film follows Paul and his family going to Arrakis and the chaos and dangers that ensue with the Harkonnen and the Fremen. 

In the beginning, the plot of the film is kind of slow, but it is essential to build up and explain the story. After an intense scene where Paul’s willpower is brutally tested, the film pulls you in and it does not let you go. 

Even though it might have made the plot feel a little stretched out, it was a good idea of Villeneuve’s to make “Dune” into two parts. It would feel rushed and many aspects that make it such a great film would be missing if it had been made into one film. 

The chemistry between the actors is a huge part of what makes the acting, and the film in general, very good. After only a few minutes, you can sense the history between Paul and the other characters. The chemistry between the actors helps the story flow smoothly so that the audience has an immediate connection and attachment to the characters. 

The strongest performances came from Chalamet, Ferguson, and Sharon Duncan-Brewster. Their respective portrayals of Paul Atreides, Lady Jessica, and Liet-Kynes are thorough and convincing, enabling the best experience for the audience.

The marketing for the film is deceiving because it makes everyone think Zendaya is one of the main characters, when in fact she is only seen in short visions until the very end when we are actually introduced to her character. Javier Bardem also has a smaller, yet important, role. However, from what we have already seen from Zendaya and Bardem, specifically their chemistry with Chalamet, there is great anticipation to see what will come of their characters in part two. 

The cinematography of the film is utterly stunning. It was shot mostly on-location combined with CGI, making the film insanely realistic. Everything from set, framing, costume to makeup come together perfectly to make an aesthetically pleasing film. It also helps that the film’s stars are quite beautiful and attractive people. 

Composer Hans Zimmer created an ominous score that matched the heavy and intense motifs in the film. From the moment the film begins, the music fills the room, setting the tone for the story. Zimmer was invested in the work, even turning down a chance to work on the movie “Tenet” with frequent collaborator Christopher Nolan.

Villeneuve, who has directed multiple science-fiction hits in the past like “Blade Runner 2049” and “Arrival,” has done it again with “Dune.” It is a very well-executed film in all aspects and it keeps you in suspense, wanting more. 

“Dune” is seemingly shaping up to be this generation’s “Star Wars,” an interesting result, considering that “Star Wars” was inspired by Frank Herbert’s 1965 work. However, 44 years after the release of “Star Wars,” “Dune” takes science-fiction to an entirely different level.

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