By Keahi Akina | Staff Writer
[Editor’s note: This story contains a correction. Please see below.]
No, really. “Dune” is that good.
The smell of popcorn is wafting through the air. There’s the sound of rustling and of candy being poured into eager hands. Someone sips their Icee. The lights are still on and the previews have gone on for nearly fifteen minutes. If you’re like this writer, it’s been a long time since you’ve been to the movie theater. You start to wonder if it was worth the trip. Was it worth the $15 ticket? “Dune” is streaming on HBO Max, you think to yourself. Could have watched it at home.
The lights dim, the screen narrows from the top and bottom. A voice, speaking an alien language surrounds you with its deep hum. The words “Dreams are messages from the deep.” appear at the bottom of the screen. Zendaya narrates at a whisper “Rolling over the sands…you can see spice in the air.” Hans Zimmer’s score surrounds you, a spice herder churning up the sand, its inhuman growl crawling up your spine. Then you’re thrust into battle. The knives sing of death, the explosions rock your eardrums, the cinematography is breathtaking. This movie is epic.
Denis Villeneuve (Deh-knee Vee-leh-knew), director, knows something about putting together a beautiful movie. His previous blockbuster movie, “Blade Runner 2049,” was absolutely gorgeous despite not being a commercial success. Dune is sure to not be a repeat. It’s worth all of the hype. Denis confidently walked the tight rope between an indulgent grandiosity and glorious resolution during exciting set pieces like the Gom Jabbar test and the nail-biting rescue of a spice herder and its crew. Elsewhere, too, his directorial hand can be seen guiding performances down to their more reserved iterations.
A particular high-point is Jason Momoa, though maybe only relative to his previous roles. In this film he plays a swordsman for House Atreides named Duncan idaho. Duncan Idaho is an insane name for not just a person that looks like Jason Momoa, but for anyone. He gives an uncharacteristic performance in this film, though his charisma and overall charm take no damage in his reserve. He seems to have finally realized, or perhaps under good direction understood, that he already looks like a very scary man. In “Dune” he is kind, friendly and possesses a calm confidence. The result is a strong guiding character who comforts both the audience and Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet and “the one,” apparently.
Chalamet heads a star-studded cast to boot, though not all of them see the end of this film. Oscar Isaac stars as the Duke of House Atreides, Paul’s father; Rebecca Ferguson as Paul’s mother, Jessica; and Zendaya plays Chani, who is sure to play a larger role in the next film. Stellan Skarsgård plays Baron Harkonnen, the villain of House Atreides. Isaac is commanding. Ferguson is strong. Skarsgård is brutally in control.
Some of the vocabulary is confusing for those who are unfamiliar with “Dune.” The film does a good job with its exposition. For any watcher wary of the information they give you, there’s a lot to learn in a short time but it’s possible. The exposition doesn’t come off so blatantly exposition-ey and much of the information is relevant to the story as a whole.
The movie was plain beautiful. It was incredible. Seeing it on the big screen was refreshing and a reminder of what filmmakers can do when they’re given a canvas as big as that. And the worms.
The worms will send goosebumps all across your body. Arrakis is home to giant killer worms and they are giant. The first time you see it will blow your mind. It can’t be described, it must be experienced. It’s safe to say that this writer will be paying that $15 again just for the worms.
[The original story published contained the wrong spellings for actors Timothée Chalamet and Stellan Skarsgård. The story has been corrected. We apologize for the error.]