More than any movie this year, “Dune” gave me hope that big movies with big ideas on big screens have a future. Legendary director Martin Scorcese calls the modern Hollywood blockbuster an amusement park, to which the rankings of sci-fi and comic book films are amongst the highest-grossing bolster.
Rightfully, one could look at “Dune” with its cast both on and off-screen and admire the lineup, but be wary of the outcome. Under the graces of “Blade Runner 2049”, Denis Villeneuve’s proficiency with both intimate human drama and large-scale spectacle, however, makes him an ideal candidate to tackle the mass of the project. The film is bolstered by the likes of composer Hans Zimmer and actors Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Oscar Issac, and many others.
I went into “Dune” with zero context, having never read Frank Herbert’s novel or seen the 1984 movie version. I worried I’d be lost in such a complex sci-fi universe—and I was, a little. But it’s a testament to Villeneuve’s command of the cinematic language that tracking with the intricacies of the plot didn’t matter as much as the big-canvas power of awesome visuals, sound design, and deep immersion into a well-established world. Villeneuve doesn’t spoon-feed audiences with tiresome exposition; you are thrust into a world of which you likely have no knowledge. That immersion into a healthy confusion blended with sprawling and echoing landscapes inhabited with intriguing enough characters swells you along with the film.
Intergalactic civilization is no stranger to concept and practice in film, “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” so on and so forth. Dune adds a balance in a myriad of ways, adding far more convincing spectacle as Dune truly opens up the like part one it is. It is indeed slow at times, and some characters seem to shine weaker than others., For the first time in a long time, however, I was able to detach from the expectations and prior knowledge of something I’ve known my whole life. “Star Wars” is owned by Disney of all people, and the luster of George Lucas’s genius is far washed from its ranks. “Dune” provided something new and far more palpable.
“Dune” 2021 looks huge; bigger screens and speakers are going to show and boom more. There’s also a lot of emotion packed into it — you can’t stage a coup without breaking a few people’s backs — and these folks enjoy seizing the day and night. The worst part now is the wait — locking down the cast, getting new things built, and actually filming and editing the thing — but as of this writing, “Dune: Part Two” is slated for Fall 2023.
Rating: it’s like sand in your toes but in a good way, 9.3/10 Sandworm Deities