PG Score: 7.75/10
Dune opened in theaters and HBO Max on 10/21/21
Dune: Part 1, the sci-fi/political epic, is brought to life by Director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) and is a remarkable improvement on the 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel.
The highly-touted director brings the source material to life with his visionary brilliance, making Dune a must-see on the big screen. The film is a futuristic tale of a galaxy-spanning empire with vassal houses ruling over vast planets that are given a vibrancy and realism missing from the original 1984 film. Dune manages to combine sci-fi with political intrigue on top of a religious magical order, the Bene Gesserit, that pits two of the ruling houses at odds with one another while bringing a prophecy to the forefront. It is easy to see the influence the story of Dune has had over the years in series like Star Wars and Game of Thrones. You can feel the love that Villeneuve and the cast have for the project in finally doing it justice and bringing it to life for a new generation.
Dune brings together a loaded cast, but it is Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and her son Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) that carry the bulk of the work and do a tremendous job leading the movie. A few of the other big names make the most of their limited screen time, such as Zendaya (Spider-Man: Far From Home) and Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), and are set up for bigger roles in Part 2.
Rounding out the supporting cast is Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) as the leader of House Atreides and father to Paul. He plays a key role in the first half of the film, and Isaac and Chalamet have great chemistry showing the importance of their father/son relationship. Jason Momoa (Aquaman) as Duncan Idaho plays a critical role role for House Atreides. Not only does he get some of the best action scenes and have some of the funnier lines in the film, but he also acts as a mentor and trainer to Paul, and as a scout sent to Arakkis to make contact with the native Fremen.
The Fremen still have a pivotal role to play in the series as it is their planet, Arakkis, where the war between House Harkonnen and House Atreides takes place. House Harkonnen had ruled over Arakkis for 80 years making a living off of the spice, native to the planet, that is vital to space travel and the the lives of the Fremen. Josh Brolin (The Goonies) as Gurney Halleck also serves House Atreides and is a combat instructor to Paul. He has a small role, but his presence has a way of leaving a lasting impression. Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting) plays one of the most important parts in the film as the head of House Harkonnen and the mastermind behind the coming conflict. He has a larger-than-life presence, though his body has gone to seed and relies on electronics to keep him upright.
Dune is not a perfect film. It drags at points, more so early on and then again towards the end. From a story point-of-view, the end of Part 1 leaves much to be desired. Part of that is due to the anticipation of Part 2.
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Great sets and costume designs bring the visually-stunning world of Dune to life. The special effects add a level of immersion to the tale that makes you the viewer feel a part of this universe. The score is masterfully utilized, particularly in highlighting essential moments for the story and characters. The way technology is used in the fight scenes makes an impact. Across the board, the acting was well-done, even in the characters we only meet for a moment. Dune was released in both cinema and on HBO Max, and from firsthand experience I can tell you that seeing this on the big screen matters. It captures the film's epic scale much better than the TV can and is a must-see theater experience for everyone.