film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Dune 2021 * * * Stars


First Denis Villeneuve decided to piggy back on Blade Runner. Now he's doing an update of 1984's Dune. Hey bro, how about coming up with some original material. Ha-ha just kidding. 

Anyhow, 2021's Dune is pretty uncompromising. I mean why wouldn't it be. This 155-minute flick is very epic in scope. It's sometimes Kubrick-an and almost every wide-angle frame is like a portrait. Villeneuve's lens is as big as Texas and you expect the Sand People from Star Wars to eventually show up (I mean the movie is called Dune). You'll sometimes be wowed by what's on display but you'll also be a little head-scratched. 

In truth, I've never seen David Lynch's '84 version and I've never read the book on which the film is based (I don't read). So yeah, I'll just lay out Dune's plot and get it over with. Paul Atreides (a smothering screen presence in Timothee Chalamet) is the ducal heir of House Atreides. Paul must travel to an evil planet to ensure that the safety of his family and people is secure. Dune takes place in the way-out future (10,191 ad to be exact). It's a stoned, fever dream that feels like total science fiction manifest.  

Denis Villeneuve's vision is completely assured even if Dune's story-line has thighs and ankles instead of legs. Villeneuve's vision will also creep you out as he gives us sandy white tropes, dragonfly spaceships, wonted opening credits, a glacial pace, and Hans Zimmer's almost demonized film score. Heck, you know this is a Denis Villeneuve pic from the first darn shot. As with Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, Denis the menace is a creature of sculpted habit. 

All in all, Dune is not thinking man's sci-fi because well, it doesn't give you enough gumption to think. It starts somewhere in the middle and yup, its coda is somewhere in the middle too (I suppose that's why it's listed as Part 1). Whatever. Dune looks and feels like a million bucks (or $165 million if you're talking budget). There's a lot to admire here even if its disjointed narrative doesn't allow you to admire all of it. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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