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DUNE is a cinematic spectacle with fine performances. However the lack of buzz, long length, and confusing narrative will affect its box office prospects.

Dune (English) Review {2.5/5} & Review Rating

DUNE is the story of the son of a noble family who could be The One. The year is 10191. It’s a time when a group of planets are part of the Empire and all of them have set sights on the planet of Arrakis. Arrakis is an arid, hot and inhospitable place and the only group of people who reside there are the Fremen. They are dangerous and expert fighters. Yet, all the planets are interested in Arrakis as that’s where the ‘spice’ grows. It’s a priceless substance that extends human youth, vitality and lifespan and hence, it has a lot of demand in the Empire. For around 80 years, the House Harkonnen of the Giedi Prime planet has been in charge of harvesting spice in Arrakis. But by an order of the Emperor, the fiefdom of Arrakis is transferred to the rule of the planet Caladan – Duke Leto Atreides of House Atreides (Oscar Isaac). Leto and his partner Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) are parents to Paul (Timothée Chalamet) and the trio are all set to go to Arrakis to take over the charge. Paul gets mysterious dreams wherein he sees the landscape of Arrakis. He also sees a girl (Zendaya) and is unable to decode what the dream conveys. It then comes to light that Jessica is a member of Bene Gesserit, an exclusively female group that pursues mysterious political aims and wields seemingly superhuman physical and mental abilities. Jessica invites Reverend Mother (Charlotte Rampling) of Bene Gesserit to find out about the dreams troubling Paul. Her revelations have a deep impact on Paul just before on his journey to Arrakis. Leto, Jessica and Paul arrive on Arrakis and while all seems well in control, they are not aware that behind their backs, a sinister plan is in motion.

Movie Review: Dune (English)

DUNE is based on the novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. The story is complex and not all aspects are easy to comprehend. But overall, it’s a fascinating tale and worth adapting on celluloid. Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth’s screenplay is captivating. The writers try their best to explain to the viewers the setting of the film and also the dynamics shared by various characters. More than the action and scale, DUNE is a human drama and the three writers deserve kudos for handling this bit well. However, the writing stagnates in the second half and a few aspects of the film are never properly explained. Dialogues are deep and a few of them might go over the viewers’ heads.

Denis Villeneuve’s direction is praiseworthy. It requires a lot of courage to make a film of this kind and full marks to Denis for passing out with flying colours on this front. The film is a visual spectacle and it’s one of its big USPs. Denis handles this bit with perfection. A few scenes are exceptionally executed. On the flipside, at 155 minutes, the film is too long. The first half moves in a jiffy but one can feel in the second half that the film is going on and on. Also, it is devoid of humour or light-hearted moments. This coupled with the complicated narrative makes DUNE ideal only for a niche audience.

DUNE’S introduction sequence is a bit confusing. It’s only later when Paul has a conversation with his father that things become much clearer. The sequence of Paul’s training with Gurney (Josh Brolin) and Paul’s intense interaction with Reverend Mother are memorable. The tension levels finally go up in the scene where the Atreides group tries to rescue members of a trawler from the sandworm. In the second half, the film goes on another level as the Duke is attacked suddenly at night. Paul’s escape is dramatic. But the scenes of him running and finding the Fremen gets a bit longer. The climax fight is underwhelming. The film ends with the promise of a sequel.

Speaking of performances, Timothée Chalamet handles the lead part with panache. He looks dashing and gives an able and subtle performance. Oscar Isaac is endearing. Rebecca Ferguson is excellent and has significant screen time. Zendaya has an arresting presence but sadly she’s there for less than 10 minutes. She has a fan following and they’ll surely feel shortchanged to know that she is hardly there. Charlotte Rampling leaves a mark in a cameo. Josh Brolin is fine Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho) is entertaining as always. Stellan Skarsgård (Baron Vladimir Harkonnen) is menacing and his entry scene is quite good. Dave Bautista (Rabban) doesn’t get much scope. Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Dr Liet-Kynes) is remarkable. Javier Bardem (Stilgar) is decent. Stephen McKinley Henderson (Thufir Hawat), Chang Chen (Dr Yueh), Babs Olusanmokun (Jamis) and Benjamin Clementine (Herald Of The Change) are fine.

Hans Zimmer’s music, as expected, enhances the impact. In a few scenes however, the music is too loud and too ‘cinematic’ and it doesn’t match with the visuals playing on the screen. Greig Fraser’s cinematography is award-worthy. The desert landscape, especially, is captured beautifully. Patrice Vermette’s production design is rich and one can actually feel that the film is based in a different world. Bob Morgan and Jacqueline West’s costumes are unique and appealing. Action is great and thankfully, not gory. VFX is top-class. Some of the effects are never before seen. Joe Walker’s editing could have been crisper.

On the whole, DUNE is a cinematic spectacle and embellished with some fine performances. However due to the lack of buzz, long length, confusing narrative and lack of humour and light-hearted moments; it’ll appeal only to a niche section of audiences.

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