Review: Denis Villeneuve embarks on colossal adventure in ‘Dune’

Review: Denis Villeneuve embarks on colossal adventure in ‘Dune’

A fresh wind blows across the sands of “Dune”, Denis Villeneuve’s majestic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel.

As hot as it is on Arrakis, the desert planet that draws the most powerful interests in the universe to its mineral-rich but inhospitable sands, Villeneuve’s film unfolds slowly and solemnly. A cool-headed colossus, this “Dune” erects massive and brutal alien science fiction architecture to create a show of thunderous splendor on the silver screen.

Without dunda it is cool to the touch. Villeneuve features more atmospheric exteriors than emotional interiors. With its muted monochrome hues, rich textures and deep soundscapes, his specialty, which has already been featured in the depths of “Sicario,” “Arrival,” and “Blade Runner 2049,” is to invoke a shadow of dark omens.

“Dune” is a bleaker journey into the desert than, say, the fiercely frantic “Mad Max: Fury Road” (“Mad Max: Fury Road”). But its history of oppression and messianic fervor is reminiscent, like the novel, of “Lawrence of Arabia” (“Lawrence of Arabia”), only instead of Peter O’Toole and his famous blue eyes besieging Aqaba, we have Timothée Chalamet claiming power in Arrakis.

Timothee Chalamet, left, and Rebecca Ferguson in a scene from
Timothee Chalamet, left, and Rebecca Ferguson in a scene from “Dune.”
Herbert’s work, created out of the Cold War and growing environmental threats, spawned a whole series of sequels but until now had had little impact on mass popular culture. David Lynch’s much-criticized 1984 film, which he didn’t like himself, didn’t help much. This version, which opens this weekend in theaters in North America and HBO Max in the United States, is a second attempt to turn “Dune” into a cinematic success. And considering the dozens of books that make up his series, “Dune” could surely could, like the “spice” extracted from the sands of Arrakis, give more. “Dune” has the upbeat subtitle of “Part One,” and adapts only the first half of the 1965 novel.

The easiest criticism for the film is that it doesn’t climax, but rather fades into the dunes. This was the thing that bothered me the least. “Dune,” which is worth seeing in theaters rather than at home, transported me long enough to hope it does well enough for there to be a “Part Two.”

Villeneuve has simplified the book into a script written by him, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth. In the process, they removed some of the novel’s eccentricities, but have also made for a coherent and ambitious epic. Here “Dune” is an operatic parable of power and exploitation, with an ecological resonance that has become increasingly relevant.

With a princely sense of destiny, Chalamet plays Paul, whose father, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), is the head of the House of Atreides, one of several fiefdoms that rule planets. The spice on Arrakis, which makes interstellar travel possible and has other mind-expanding capabilities, has been harvested for years by the fascist House of Harkonnen, headed by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, played by a grotesquely fat Stellan Skarsgard, with nods to Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now” (“Apocalypse Now”). But for unknown reasons, a radical change has been ordered.

Harvesting the spice is not easy. It’s too hot and there are huge sandworms and the local Fremen (including Chani, played by Zendaya) resent the presence of outsiders who have taken over their world. Leto hopes to begin a friendly collaboration with the Fremans, but quickly realizes that their operation is being sabotaged at every turn. When the situation turns violent, the focus shifts to Paul, who has been trained in sword fighting by Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and guided by his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson, in a fabulous role) in “the road.” , a mysterious power to control the mind. The Fremans believe that he could be the savior promised by the prophecies. It remains to be seen if “Dune” will give a twist to the story of the white savior, although we will have to wait for a possible sequel.

Josh Brolin, left, and Oscar Isaac in a scene from
Josh Brolin, left, and Oscar Isaac in a scene from “Dune.”

The story is intricate enough even for a sandworm to digest. All the construction of the world leaves little room for something very intimate in terms of character development. “Dune,” like most of Villeneuve’s earlier films, is a bit hollow beyond its pristine surfaces. But what surfaces! Featuring cinematography by Greig Fraser and production design by Patrice Vermette, the film is so sublimely made that it can be followed by Hans Zimmer’s wonderful original music muted. With an immense sense of scale ranging from an infiltrated mosquito to Jason Momoa, “Dune” presents a millennial history of palace intrigues and indigenous struggles in exaggerated cosmic contours. Like a mark in the sand, it feels sculpted by primary and elemental forces.

“Dune,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG-13 (advising parents that it may be inappropriate for children under 13) by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for scenes of strong violence, disturbing images and suggestive material.

Duration: 151 minutes.

Rating: Three and a half stars out of four.

Ashley Johnson
Ashley Johnson is the lead reporter for Globe Live Media on things related to Astrology, Lifestyle and Music. Being a fitness enthusiast, her background involves growing up in Beverly Hills, where She often interacts with famous Artists and also talks about their ways for a Healthy Lifestyle. She is in fact a profound Yoga student. You can be well assured about the authenticity and quality of Lifestyle, Health, and Music reports published by her.