Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” made its U.S. debut in late October and was very well received by critics and fans. An impressive overseas box office return and strong reviews from writers led to high levels of anticipation for the first part of a potential trilogy. After the film delivered upon its lofty expectations, part two was quickly greenlit and scheduled for an October 2023 release. Villeneuve’s latest opus further establishes himself as one of the most inventive filmmakers working today and a master of the genre.
The narrative follows the royal House Atreides as they accept rule over an unfamiliar desert planet called Arrakis. They take control of mining spice melange, the most valuable property in the universe which powers space travel and acts as a psychedelic drug. House Atreides is led by Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) whose teenage son Paul (Timothee Chalamet) is the story’s main protagonist. The Atreides are in conflict with the violent House Harkonnen who is led by the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard). Throughout the film, Paul has unsettling visions of his future that include the Fremen, who are a group of blue-eyed people that live on Arrakis. This year’s “Dune” is the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name.
The sci-fi epic was intentionally filmed for the sweeping screens of IMAX and pushes the already larger-than-life visuals that “Dune” presents to unprecedented levels. There might not be a motion picture that operates on this great of a scale since 2017’s “Blade Runner 2049,” also made by Villeneuve. The set pieces are marvelous and are not just included for the sake of having action sequences. They either significantly further the plot or provide crucial character development. Whether it is hordes of oppositional soldiers colliding in combat or a smaller one-to-one duel, the choreography of these battles is immaculately executed and effectively conveys the magnitude of major plot points.
One of the strongest aspects of “Dune” is its long list of standout performances that elevate the film much beyond just its technical achievements. Timothee Chalamet excellently anchors the project and accurately portrays the internal conflict that Paul faces. Rebecca Ferguson brings the necessary elegance and intelligence to the powerful character of Lady Jessica, a member of the Bene Gesserit order. Another highlight of the cast is undoubtedly Jason Momoa in a supporting role as Duncan Idaho. The energetic swordsman is very close with Paul, fiercely loyal to the Atreides and Mamoa brings an inherent charisma whenever he is on screen. Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet Kynes is grounded and provides a rendition of a vital character that helps House Atreides assimilate to Arrakis.
According to Forbes, the film has made $300 million worldwide, making “Dune” a success financially and artistically. The project thrived because of Villeneuve’s direction, a superstar-filled cast, Greig Fraser’s cinematography and demand for the retelling of a classic science fiction story.