Dune Review: Destiny is Fulfilled in this Cinematic Epic!

When thinking of science fiction, the likes of Star Trek and Star Wars often comes to mind. Yet one story has just as much novelty to the sci-fi genre and deals with distant worlds, intergalactic politics and colossal worms. This tale is simply known as Dune. The novel by Frank Hebert has played a vital role in both literature and pop culture as it has helped to inspire the likes of Star Wars to prominence. Dune is no stranger to the silver screen as the story was adapted back in 1984 by filmmaker David Lynch. While it was not well received initially, 1984’s Dune would find success with movie fans by gaining a following over the years. Since then, there have been talks to readapt Dune with Paramount hoping distribute a new film but to no avail. However, when Legendary Pictures got the rights, a new project went into development and, after some delay, Dune has finally returned to the big screen.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Dune tells the story of Paul (Timothee Chalamet) who journeys to the planet Arrakis where he discovers his destiny as well as a plot to destroy his family. The movie is the first chapter in a two-part saga, which was something Lynch wanted to do with his 1984 rendition. Ever since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival Dune has received major acclaim from several critics which certainly helped the film’s buzz going into its initial release. After so many attempts the question going into this film was could Denis Villeneuve finally bring Frank Herbert’s epic to the big screen. While I cannot determine the movie’s accuracy with the book, I can say that Dune is undoubtedly a cinematic triumph.

This story was definitely a great for start for the new adaptation. The biggest issue the story was that some points, like Paul’s destiny, could be blunt in delivery; but that is where the problems end. The plot was not just a captivating journey but a tale rich with lore. The world the plot crafted was investing filled with intriguing concepts that were easy to understand and interesting enough to be expanded upon. This terrific sense of world building was matched by the plot’s solid structure and pacing as it never dragged on and was captivating from beginning to end. Along with taking some surprising turns, this plot was engaging experience that was hard to turn away from and in my book that is definitely the signs of a great story.

With a tale so grandiose a movie like Dune would need a cast of the same caliber, and sure enough this ensemble was up to the task. Whether it was the principal cast or just minor roles everyone stood out in some manner and felt like they belong in this cast. When it came to the lead character, Paul was an impressive protagonist to say the least. The aspiring nobleman walked a slippery slope from being a “Gary Stu”, but fortunately Paul steered from that path and ended up being a compelling character. This was thanks to Chalamet’s performance as he was able to bring a sense of humanity to the destined hero. Aiding Paul were character such as his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Gurney Hallock (Josh Broken) and his father Duke Arteries (Oscar Isaac) who were able to keep Paul grounded while standing out in their right. These characters, along with the likes of Duncan Idaho (Jason Mamoa), highlighted a supporting cast that was strong in both presence and performance. When it came to villains, the likes of the Baron (Stellan Skarsgard) and Rabban (Dave Bautista) brought a lot to cast despite their minimal screen time. A surprise in this cast was Zendaya as Chani as her role did not play out as I expected-though I cannot say that her role was unwarranted. Between this and additions like Stilgar (Javier Bardem) the cast of Dune had the depth and presence to be considered one of the best ensembles to grace the silver screen this year.

Dune was truly a spectacle to behold. The film’s visuals were wondrous in delivery whether it was the rich cinematography that gave each planet a unique look and feel, or the execution of the sandworms which had a gravitas akin to cinema’s greatest Kaijus. When it came to elements like action, Dune was not riddled with action packed moments but it was still a highlight to the movie. While the film had massive scenes what I found impressive was the fight choreography which was stellar blend of swordplay and martial arts. Last and certainly not least was the music by Hans Zimmer. The music was not only thematic for the film’s sandy setting but work as a perfect companion to the movie as it enhanced every scene to make this epic feel that more cinematic.

Destiny is fulfilled in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. The new adaptation is an epic fitting to the big screen thanks to its engulfing story, stellar ensemble and a wonderous presentation. While some aspects could be off-putting, it was not enough to derail this grand blockbuster. As first chapters go, this new movie is a fantastic start as I am eager to see more and hope that the return to Arrakis will not be a long one. Nevertheless, Dune is a cinematic experience through and through and there is no doubt in this Film Adventurer’s mind that this sci-fi epic is among the best films of the year.

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