One of my current excitements is that with audiences flocking back to the cinema, it’s an early peak season with a smorgasbord of major film releases.
From the latest 007 to Jane Campion’s critically acclaimed new Western ‘Power of the Dog‘, it was a tough pick for my first film after two years.
I was not disappointed.
With a series of heartfelt, thoughtful, splendidly directed sci-fis in recent years I knew Denis Villeneuve (‘Arrival’, ‘Bladerunner 2049’) would not disappoint with this latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic 1965 novel ‘Dune’.
And in case you’re still recovering from the overly long, ham-fisted David Lynch version from the 80s with over-the-top costuming and campy performances – be assured, there’s no codpieces in sight.
Not only has Villeneuve seamlessly paired tribal, elemental landscapes with clever, high-tech vehicles and weaponry – but what a cast!
Villeneuve certainly has that special ‘Director magic’ of enticing knockout, ‘all in’ performances from his cast; drawing a great emotional depth and authenticity from them.
With such an ensemble piece I could mention a number of performances, but the particularly outstanding includes a layered, charismatic performance from Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides; with a wonderful character arc from boy to man – who grows up before our very eyes.
Also Oscar Isaac is fantastic as Leto Atreides ranging from fury to adoration to royal diplomacy to grief. Rebecca Ferguson is fierce as a conflicted, yet unflinching Lady Jessica, and Josh Brolin gives a stoic and earthy performance as Leto’s Chief Officer.
Personal favourites also include Chang Chen as the House Atreides doctor, Jason Momoa as ferocious Atreides swordmaster, Duncan Idaho and Stellan Skarsgård as a menacing Baron Harkonnen.
Beautifully filmed with a heightened lushness and sense of scale by Aussie Greig Fraser (who has already won a number of awards for his work), even the sand dunes are captivating. Paired with Hans Zimmer’s experimental, ambitious score, quite simply this is a must see in the cinema – especially for science fiction fans.
It’s too early to call it, but I’m predicting that much like Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ this will become the definitive version of Dune, with Part Two scheduled to begin filming in July 2022.