Premise: There is no way to describe the plot of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” effectively in one paragraph. I read the book by Frank Herbert and saw the previous David Lynch movie when I was in high school – neither left any impression on me. So, the plot, except for the giant worms, was pretty much new to me. There’s this desert planet, Arrakis, which has giant worms that hamper the humans, who are there to either protect the spice that is unique to the planet or to strip it away, for whomever rules the spice, rules the galaxy. By decree of the emperor, the royal family of Arteides is brought in to take over control of the planet from the ruthless Harkonnen family, as they try to forge a new relationship with the distrustful Fremens natives. Paul (Timothée Chalamet) is the son of the ruler of the Arteides family (Oscar Isaac). His mother (Rebecca Furguson) believes he may be the prophesized Kwisatz Haderach, who will bring balance to the Force. Wait, I may be mixing things up.
My Take: This is a fantastic looking movie, and despite the complicated plot, I understood mostly what was going on, even if I can’t recount it back to you. At least I could tell the good guys from the bad ones (if someone looks like a slug, he’s a bad guy). Chalamet is only a smidge less brooding here than he was in a similar role in 2019’s “The King.” He doesn’t have much to do but have visions (like Amy Adams’ ones in Villeneuve’s “Arrival”) and trying to figure out what they mean. The huge ensemble is impressive, and just know that if actors don’t have much to do (is Zendaya ever going to talk?), they’ll probably be more prominent in Part 2. Hans Zimmer’s score is effective, even the usual Foghorn Blarehorn trope (have we ever heard a piano in a Villeneuve’s flick?) and Greig Fraser’s cinematography is wonderous, even on my iPad, and I can only imagine would be fantastic in IMAX.
VIP: Denis Villeneuve. As the visionary director of two of my favorite movies of the last decade, “Dune” has cemented his auteur status for me. Even with his earlier movies, like “Incenides” and “Prisoners,” I always felt he was confident in his directing, but in recent years, he has succeeded where David Lynch (“Dune”) and Ridley Scott (1982’s “Blade Runner”) couldn’t for me. Not sure what how he will approach the second part of the novel, but so far so good.
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