This adaptation of Frank Herbert’s beloved science fiction epic is the story of one man and the many worlds with which his life is intertwined. It’s big and bold storytelling, while also remaining small and intimate: the tale of worlds and families and power-struggles and leadership… and of one man finding his place in all of it.
Timothée Chalamet plays Paul Atreides, the leader-in-training, always preparing to become the next duke, after his father. He knows how to fight, how to think, how to negotiate and command respect, and there is still more to be learned every day.
With Chalamet cast as the lead of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, and with his character being the focus of the trailers, you might think it’s entirely his film. Yet, though he takes centre stage and leads with the quiet power his character needs, this also feels, in part, like a powerful ensemble piece, especially when the film is packed with the likes of Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Zendaya and Jason Momoa. Each actor brings something utterly compelling to their roles, especially Ferguson, whose role unfolds into something far more complex than just Paul’s mother, and Momoa, who brings real charm and heart to his part.
After all, much of what makes the mystery and intrigue of Dune work so well is that Paul is surrounded by greatness but not all goodness. While his eventual rise to power may feel inevitable, we are never sure who really has his back and who has other motives, nor are we sure of the path that will get him there. Each character is complex and brilliantly written and the script is paced to perfection, allowing viewers to truly invest in what is unfolding in each part of this world, not simply marvel at the spectacle of it all.
And there is so much spectacle to be found. The film’s visuals are absolutely flawless and stunning to behold. The sumptuous colours and textures of each shot make Dune perfect big-screen viewing. Cinematographer Greig Fraser has done exemplary work here. The attention to detail is evident in every frame. This is truly a world in which we can be utterly immersed.
The only negative to be found is that the big and bold feel of the film sadly translates into an occasionally overbearing score completely drowning some important dialogue moments. Yes, we want the score to be as epic as the film, but not if we’re going to lose key lines in the process.
That said, Dune is a film made to sweep up viewers into an exhilarating adventure. This is a deliriously cinematic treat for the senses and it has the character arcs, performances and story to back up the stunning visuals and epic scale. Roll on part two…
Dune is out in cinemas now!