Together with the reopening of cinemas in the Philippines comes the opportunity to watch huge blockbuster films on the big screen. We went ahead to check out the experience of watching a film in the theaters and saw the Warner Bros, epic sci-fi film, Dune.
Dune is an adaptation of the 1965 novel of the same name written by Frank Herbert. This is actually the third adaptation of Dune following David Lynch’s 1984 film and the mini-series by John Harrison back in the year 2000. The newest adaptation for Dune is directed by Denis Villeneuve and features an astonishingly long list of amazing actors and actresses.
The sheer amount of household names in this movie together with the visual spectacle seen from the trailer was already enough to pique our interest to see the movie in its entirety for ourselves. Here’s our full review of Dune as we checked out if the film truly lives up to the hype and excitement:
In the year 10191, humanity has been inhabiting different planets across the universe with various rulers inhabiting each region of the galaxy. The House of Atreides, led by Duke Leto is the ruler of the ocean planet Caladan, together with his consort, Lady Jessica, and son Paul is one of the dominant family. The story revolves around the family’s transition as the new fief rulers of the harsh desert planet, Arrakis, as decreed by Emperor Shaddam. Arrakis is known not only for its harsh and drylands but also for its deadly predators, the sandworms, its aloof native population called the Fremen and the presence of the galaxy’s biggest commodity at this time referred to as “spice”. Throughout the film, viewers are taken deep into the politically motivated moves of the Emperor as he selfishly seeks to destroy the House of Atreides through this transition to secure his power against the growing fame and threat of Leto and his family.
Dune, being a science fiction film also dives into some supernatural elements specifically through Paul and his undeveloped powers which include the use of mind manipulation which is referred to as “the voice” and his constant dreams and visions of the future. These dreams and visions constantly occur throughout the film as they also steer the direction of the plot even further. It’s important to note early on as well that this film is just the first of an intended two-part franchise — diving deep into the exposition and world-building in a similar fashion to the first half of Herbert’s novel. Therefore despite the extensive and intensive nature of all the events that occur in Dune: Part One, there is still more that is up ahead for this story so don’t be surprised when you leave the cinema with a huge cliffhanger.
Dune Review: Spoiler Warnings
For the most part, we will keep this review free from spoilers as we will just focus of the intricate nature of the plot, visuals, and acting capabilities of the Dune cast.
A Long List of Big Names
As mentioned, there is a huge amount of big names in the film industry who are attached to this adaptation of Dune and it starts off with director Denis Villeneuve who is a phenom in the sci-fi film genre with huge hit films such as Blade Runner 2049 and The Arrival. On the acting side of the coin, Dune boasts the names of stars such as Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa, and many more. Despite the long list of actors truth be told there weren’t any solid standout moments from any of the cast members and the sheer volume made it difficult for any actor to truly stand out. This isn’t to say that they did a terrible job, in fact, all held their own in equally great performances. Each character was portrayed to the best of their abilities which all helped build the riveting story that is Dune.
Timothée Chalamet must get some acknowledgment however in being a very consistent type of actor. It seems that even at his young age, Chalamet knows who he is as an actor and exactly what roles suit him. He owns the role of Paul in this film — highlighting the inexperience and negative aspects of Paul’s youthful bravado while trying to reconcile within himself the need to step into a more mature man and as an eventual warrior and leader. Once again Chalamet is able to show no signs of inexperience or disadvantages brought about by his age — being able to stand toe-to-toe with the rest of the cast members of Dune.
A Visual and Auditory Tour De Force
The highlight of this film hands down has to go first and foremost to the visual feet that it is able to achieve. The film starts off with an almost deafening sound that radiates throughout the entire room which at first may appear as an annoyance but in fact, adds to the cryptic and consistent tone that is seen and heard throughout the entire movie. The color grading and darker tones are very much consistent with just a few bright-colored contrasting scenes here and there but all this small attention to detail enables the creation of a different science fiction film altogether. The special effects are also done brilliantly to a tee that they aren’t just smacked onto the screen for the sake of doing so. The presence and choices are clearly strategic and well thought out to ensure a memorable artistic piece from start to finish.
An Amalgamation of Various Genres
What sets Dune apart from other films in the sci-fi genre is that it goes beyond the typical space adventure theme as it draws inspiration from different types of genres. In its setting and very core, it appears to be an all-out space film but Dune sets out and delivers to go beyond just the stereotype that it initially provides unto its viewers. There are resemblances to ancient battle movies like Troy and 300 with the deep and rich orange color patterns, desolate landscapes, and tightly-knit and choreographed battle sequences. The plot also lends itself to dive into Shakespearean or European influences which all paint a very artistic film altogether. There is a theatric nature to Dune that elevates the movie beyond a simple mainstream action film. With all of these influences, the film manages to create a unique direction and name for itself as a film —- avoiding confusion and over-complication.
A Symbolically Deep Plot
The story of Dune for the most part is politically driven despite an action-filled motif. Even though the setting of the film occurs years into the future, the way the story is made feels like a 15th-century mood with dark themes and the complications of the hierarchical problems that occur within a kingdom. As mentioned the story resembles the treatment that classic Shakespearean stories center on diving into a poetic and symbolically deep movie. There are intricacies of the different members in the governing body at this time all combine to create a well-rounded, contrasting, and at the same time complementary picture of the complicated and dirty nature of rulers and governments. We also see how the harsh world that these characters live in continually consumes every desire from within whether it be through the literal sandworms or the rulers that represent the same creatures willing to devour anything in their path out of greed and lust for power.
Dune however tends to be a bit too heavy-handed at times in its length and pace and quantity of events that take place. There are too many things going on for one film even with its 150-minute run. It takes patience and a keen attention span to keep up with all the characters as well as with the slow nature of the story. This may be attributed however to the source material but nonetheless the pacing despite how slow it is, proves to be worth it until the very end.
Dune did not disappoint especially as our first film back in the cinemas. The way the story flows and the grandeur of the visual effects and the sheer display of amazing sounds is perfect choice to be shown and seen on the big screen. It has established itself as a well-rounded showcase of brilliance from the visuals, sound editing, and even down to the ambitiousness and detail flow of the story. We are still gobsmacked by everything that had occurred in this one movie even down to the last moments that left us hanging. We are excited to see the next chapter for Paul and all the other characters in Dune when the sequel drops sometime in 2022.
In the meantime, however, we highly recommend that you take the time to watch Dune now which is available in cinemas here in the Philippines. You can also opt to check out the film using your trusty VPN on HBO Max.
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