Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter are some of the most popular fantasy/science fiction franchises to ever grace God’s green Earth and dominate not only pop culture, but also the public eye. Each one recognized for their complex, well-crafted, original worlds and one-of-a-kind characters. Despite the massive success of these franchises, dare I say, Dune is significantly better than any of these—and only one film has been released. You might be asking yourself, how could someone make such a blanket statement that banks off the quality of only the first installment? Well, that chapter was the closest thing to perfection I have ever seen from a big-budget franchise, and that is why it is destined to be the next iconic franchise.
Sand, spice, and everything nice
Dune is based on Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name. The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve and is set roughly 20,000 years in the future, in the year 10,191. It tells the story of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a young, intelligent, and highly skilled 15-year-old boy who is born into a considerable destiny that stretches beyond his understanding. He must travel with his parents Leto I Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and Lady Jessica Atreides (Rebecca Ferguson) to the harsh desert planet Arrakis. House Atreides is relocated to administer the mining operations of Spice Melange, or Spice, which is the most valued resource to ever exist. Everybody in the galaxy desires it, because the whole economy relies on it. Now, Spice isn’t your ordinary day-to-day garlic powder or ground cumin, its significance bears more crucial than all of your kitchen spices combined (shocking, I know.) It is a good that is able to unlock one’s ultimate potential. Specifically, Spice is sacred to the people who inhabit Arrakis, the Freman, as well as being needed for interstellar travel. Malicious forces then ensue conflict over Arrakis’ restricted supply of Spice, threatening House Atreides and their power. The story is satisfying, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat wondering what will happen next.
Curly-headed dreamboat Chalamet leads the pack in his exquisite performance throughout this two hour and 35 minute long sci-fi adventure. Chalamet has become such a heartthrob it would be foolish if he did not end up as the star in such a blockbuster film, especially given the amount of success he has garnered in the past four years. Right off the bat, Paul and Leto’s father-son relationship is shown—with matching black peacoats and slicked back hair—melting the hearts of audiences around the globe. This relationship, and the close bond that Paul has with Lady Jessica, due to their Bene Gesserit abilities, is what fuels the heart of the movie. His close relationship with his parents is one that is enjoyable, and at times excruciatingly heartbreaking, to watch.
There was not one bad performance in the entirety of Dune, with each actor enhancing the experience from start to finish. At first glance, with a star-studded cast composed of not only Chalamet, Isaac, and Ferguson, but also Zendaya (Chani), Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho), Dave Bautista (Glossu Rabban), and Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck), among many others, I had high expectations going in. Those expectations were met, and immediately blown out of the water, due to the amount of three-dimensional writing, personality, and depth instilled in each character. Isaac gave the best performance of his career as Paul’s father; seemingly born to play such a powerful leader.
The frenzy heard around the world, or just Twitter, was how Zendaya’s on-screen presence was advertised incorrectly, and fans didn’t hesitate to express their fury. With one fan even writing, “The credits were longer than Zendaya’s camera time in Dune.” The marketing team for Dune sure knows how to pawn off a movie, because they ensured that every little Dune promotional piece had both Chalamet and Zendaya in it. They milked each of them, knowing their audiences and how many people were going to see the film for the sole purpose of witnessing Chalamet and Zendaya on the big screen together. Though, Zendaya was only on screen for seven minutes of the movie. At first, her lack of screen time was a little upsetting, but ultimately it didn’t impact the overall quality of the film. Since this is only part one out of the trilogy that Dune will eventually fulfill, this movie was supposed to act as background information for each of the characters as well as set up the next installment of the franchise. Movies of that nature can often come across as boring since its job is to set up the next film, but Dune was executed very well.
“Let’s Fight like Demons!”
The score of the film is composed by the one and only, Hans Zimmer. This man has composed every single impeccable movie score you could imagine. The Dark Knight? Zimmer did that. The Lion King? Zimmer did that. What about Inception? Zimmer did that. The list goes on and on. Zimmer immerses the viewer into the world of Dune by constructing a dynamic and compelling score, evoking an emotional sonic rollercoaster. Dune sounds good, but it looks just as spectacular.
Villeneuve is the king of cinematography. There, I said it. The stunning visuals in Dune from beginning to end create a grandiose and breathtaking experience. With a directing résumé that includes the likes of Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, even if the rest of the movie was a flaming dumpster fire, it would still be a pretty one. The dynamic color scheme plays an extensive part throughout the film casting a particular mood and atmosphere for each planet, with Caladan being rich with deep blue colors and Arrakis being muted with seas of tan. Every scene in Dune is as detailed and meticulous as the ruins of Greece. I could not look away, not even for one second, for fear I would miss something. Four days after Dune’s U.S. release, fans across the globe were met with the announcement to end all announcements that read, “This is only the beginning... Thank you to those who have experienced @dunemovie so far, and those who are going in the days and weeks ahead. We're excited to continue the journey!” Legendary Entertainment also shared a photo with this tweet with the words “Dune Part Two" in front of an orangey background.The anticipation continues with the second installment set to release Oct. 20, 2023. The future of Dune is in great hands. With the talent of everyone already on board, there is no way it won’t be.
Get used to the wonderful beast that is Dune, because it is not going to be leaving anytime soon. Given the fact that Herbert's founding text is having a profound impact almost 60 years after its original release solidifies that Dune is timeless. I am sure we will be seeing Dune merchandise with Chalamet and Zendaya’s faces all over it on the shelves of Hot Topic, Boxed Lunch, and F.Y.E. and people will be strutting down the street flaunting their latest fandom.
Featured Image: IMDB
Sources: New York Post, Parade