Dune (2021) movie review

Villeneuve is a true visionary of cinema and Dune is no different. In fact, it slots right in place on his spotless filmography. 

Despite its unfilmable infamy, the plot of this Dune is deceptively simple: Chalamet is Paul of House Atreides, prophecised promised one and future leader of his noble familia who are sent by the galactic emperor to the desert planet of Arrakis to oversee the production of Spice. Betrayal, survival and self-actualisation ensues.

Of course, what this simplified main throughline doesn’t take into account is all the subplots and side stories and supporting characters that add weight and drama and complexities that belie the simplistic hero’s journey at its centre.

It will surprise no-one that has seen a Villeneuve film before to learn that Dune is opulent and epic on a visual scale second-to-none. It truly deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

Immersive its world(s) building and designs, there is a lived-in quality to this space fantasy that feels both functional and futuristic. John Hammond would be proud. No expense has been spared to sell this attraction as reality.

The starry cast of supporting actors surrounding Chalamet are uniformly excellent with Momoa and Ferguson the standouts amidst the diverse constellation. Minor spoiler territory ahead but not many make it to the end, so make the most of your pick of the pack whilst you can.

Everything on screen is augmented by Hans Zimmer’s grand and sumptuous score. He has so many notable notches on his composer CV that it’s hard to narrow down his highlights but this is undoubtedly amongst his very best.

There is an argument to be made that Dune does lack the intimacy and immediately of Villeneuve’s previous sci-fi opuses Arrival and 2049 whilst the very deliberate pace means it takes a while to get where it wants to narratively go, no doubt losing some stragglers along the way to be gobbled up by the sandworms.

It’s a safe wager though that most can’t help but be drawn into both the world of Arrakis and Paul’s character arc come this part’s cliffhanger conclusion.

After all, once you’ve had a taste, the power of Spice compels you.

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