Reviews

Dune: Part One Review

This is only the beginning indeed

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Now before we get down to my thoughts, a quick background. Have I read the book? No. Have I seen other attempts at adapting the book? Also no. I don’t have any prior exposure to this material, so beyond my bias of already enjoying previous films by Villeneuve, I have nothing else tugging me in one direction or another. With that all out of the way, let’s get to the movie!

Dune: Part One, is a visual splendor, a film that tells its story as best as it can through visuals and trusting that the audience can follow along without a constant need for being told how to think or feel. Does it accomplish this all without some exposition dumps here or there? No, it has those, but in ways that make sense rather than feeling more like a forced explanation directly to us watching. The story follows Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides, the son of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), on a tragic journey of responsibility being forced upon the young man through political machinations from both the galactic empire he was born into from his father as well as a religious one from his mother. Caught as a pawn in a bigger game for control over the most important resource in this galaxy (the Spice of Arrakis) Paul must accept his part to play for his sake as well as the galaxy as a whole. This is all while Game of Thrones level political moves are playing out for control over more than just the desert planet Arrakis.

This movie is dense, it’s building out a massive world (galaxy really) that feels like the previously mentioned Game of Thrones and Star Wars blended together, with a dash of Lord of the Rings thrown into the mix. I gave a raised eyebrow to marketing using these comparisons but after seeing the movie twice, this is exactly that. This could be the start of a visual adventure that will long live beyond its initial release. I was intrigued by every new detail of the world, so much so that yes, I’ll read the book. Even with that pull to want to know more, I never felt like I was not given enough to enjoy the main tale that involves Paul. I have heard of feedback that the movie has no depth in characters, so many are introduced but glossed over in favor of Paul. Seeing as Paul is the character the movie is following I don’t quite understand that criticism but hey that’s just me. A final bit on the story, from the opening of the movie, saying Dune: Part One, it was clear to me this movie was not going to end with a clean it’s over kind of ending. Well, my only major spoiler here, it doesn’t end with a this-story-is-over kind of ending. Sorry. Keep that in mind if you plan on watching it.

Alright now onto everything else. This movie’s cast is stacked. Chalamet, Ferguson, Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Josh Brolin to name a few. I almost listed every character with a name because they are all talented actors bringing their A-game. Not a one disappoints, and some are downright memorizing in their performances. Capturing these moments and all the beautiful frames of another galaxy is the formerly mentioned cinematographer Greig Fraser. The movie is like a moving painting. Scene after scene, you could take a snapshot and have something breathtaking to put up on a wall. It’s a splendor for the eyes and deserves to be seen on the best display you can. IMAX, Dolby Cinema, or a TV most of us can’t afford, find a way to watch it one of those. Before jumping to the excellent score, I did want to mention that the production design from sets, special effects, to costumes are all top-notch. Everything brings you deeper into these places, not like our own. Everyone involved in this production deserves praise for what they were able to bring to the screen. Finally, I wanted to bring up what seems like an obvious statement, Hans Zimmer delivers every time. Dune is no exception. This score is beautiful, haunting, and elevates every moment. It’s a score you can listen to post watch and picture moments in your head. Those are the kind of scores that every composer should aspire to make.

Zendaya’s Chani utters the line “This is only the beginning.” To that I say, it better damn be. This introduction to the world of Dune was amazing, and I cannot wait to continue Paul’s journey in a Dune: Part Two. So everyone, go out there and give this visual masterpiece a shot because I reallllly want a Part Two. Thanks!

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