Dune, the crowning achievement in science-fiction writing, was considered by many to be unadaptable. Efforts to get this groundbreaking epic by Frank Herbert off the ground have stalled in the past, from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious attempt that went nowhere to David Lynch’s 1984 bizarre rendition crashing and burning.
Enter Denis Villeneuve. This is a director that many, myself included, consider to be the best working today. Half of his films are among the best of the century, with Blade Runner 2049 being one of my favourite films of all time. Did he manage to do the impossible? Did he succeed in adapting Frank Herbert’s magnum opus?
He has. Beyond all doubt.
Dune is a masterful cinematic achievement, and could well be this generation’s Lord of the Rings. This is a filmmaking marvel that defies description and left me absolutely breathless from beginning to end.
Villeneuve has taken a story, so difficult to access for new viewers, and created an unbelievably exciting, vibrant, and soaring epic that will captivate newcomers and delight fans of the source material to no end. I have no qualms calling this the best film I have seen in almost two years.
Every frame is so meticulously crafted with so much care placed in it, that it left me in awe of the raw power of filmmaking pouring through. With such brilliant cinematography, sound design and colour composition, it is impossible not to be lost in every single scene.
The ensemble cast does an amazing job with the source material but the narrative is carried by the main character, Paul Atreides. To bear the responsibility of a character like this demands a world-class young actor, and that is what Timothee Chalamet definitively proves here.
While something like Blade Runner 2049 is defined by silences and observation, Dune is bombastic and triumphant, every moment dripping with atmosphere. This is an intelligent piece of science-fiction that revels in its world-building as much as it does in its epic scale.
Speaking of which, one of Dune’s strengths is just the sheer size of it. This is such a well-realised, lived-in fictional universe that just feels so grand and all-consuming. This is what happens when you have a great director who has a lot of love for the story he is adapting. Dune is the very definition of epic.
The complexity of both Dune’s terminology and character roles are laid bare, and even if the dialogue is hard to come to terms with, the visuals do it more than justice. Villeneuve is simply a master storyteller.
I can’t encourage you to watch this at the cinema enough. The thrill of every huge moment is just a cacophony of energetic filmmaking. When the gargantuan sandworms appear, it’s simply an unimaginable experience that dominates your senses.
What Villeneuve has created here is a definitive example of large-scale cinema the likes of which we don’t see often. It makes me think of just how we seem to take blockbuster films for granted.
Dune isn’t just a feast for the eyes and ears, it’s everything at once. Explosive and nuanced, complex yet simple, ambitious but sincere. Having a film with this much effort put into it is a privilege, and Frank Herbert’s vision from the ’60s comes to light in the most audacious, weird, and jaw-dropping fashion.
I don’t often issue a rallying call for people to go see films but I can’t stress enough how vital it is to see this on the big screen. Blade Runner 2049 underperformed badly at the box office and if the same happens with Dune, it will deny us a sequel. We will be denied the definitive franchise of its time.
We deserve films like this. The cinema was created for films like this. Denis Villeneuve has done the impossible. And I hope he continues to defy the odds forevermore.
Recommended Reading: Can cinemas reach their pre-Covid highs again?