DUNE

★★★★

SANDY SCI-FI SENSATION SOARS

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Chris dos Santos
12th November 2021

'Dune' is one of those franchises that has had a rotten adaption history. For years I've heard how incredible the book is, but it's never made a successful leap into another media. The 1984 film was famously disowned by director David Lynch upon release, and even though multiple cuts have been released, it was simply unfaithful to its original material. There was a mini-series in 2000 which also swanned a sequel 'Children of Dune', which while succeeding in being more faithful still failed in its scope. After studios bounced the novel around for decades, 'Dune' appeared to finally meet its perfect match with director Denis Villeneuve helming the adaption with the dream of bringing Frank Herbert's epic to the big screen.

Paul (Timothèe Chalamet, 'Little Women', 'Lady Bird'), son to Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson, 'Doctor Sleep', 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout') and Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', 'Ex Machina'), has untapped power. He begins to get callings from Chani (Zendaya, 'Spider-Man: Far From Home', 'Malcolm & Marie'), drawing him to the most dangerous planet, Arrakis. While the planet is almost unhabitable due to its heat and extreme dessert landscape, it's desired by everyone due to its lucrative spices that are harvested to fuel powerful technology. Paul's father is now set to lead the planet, but Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård, 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again', 'Thor: The Dark World') is also pursuing the planet.

SWITCH: 'DUNE' FINAL TRAILER

As expected from Sir Villeneuve, 'Dune' is a visual delight. Every shot is sheer artistry, so large-screen formats are the ultimate way to experience the epic. The US$165 million budget does not go unnoticed, with its scope grand and luscious. Compared to 'Eternals' - which made a big deal about practical sets but felt empty - 'Dune' is the perfect blend of real locations and effects, and it's so much grander for it.

With Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner 2049', there is no arguing how beautiful that film is - it's art - but for myself, the film was a little weak with its story and characters. 'Dune', on the other hand, is the perfect blend of visuals and story. While I couldn't perfectly recap the plot because there is a lot of science talk that just goes over my head, there is a clear enough understandable goal to keep the non-sci-fi audience members - like myself - engaged.

As expected from Sir Villeneuve, 'Dune' is a visual delight. Every shot is sheer artistry, so large-screen formats are the ultimate way to experience the epic. The US$165 million budget does not go unnoticed, with its scope grand and luscious.

The film also has so much star power that helps keep it engaging. Sci-fi for those who aren't already fans is a really tough sell, and something 'Dune' does is not to alienate those audience members, while still being incredibly faithful to its source and not simplifying anything.

This goes without saying, but Sir Hans Zimmer is at the top of his game here. 'Dune's' soundscape is jaw-dropping. The score is overwhelming; see it with the best and loudest speakers you can. I had chills multiple times listening to it. While it's epic on Spotify, it's not as grand as hearing it in a cinema.

'Dune' has not only broken the curse of adapting the novel, but also feels like a return to the sci-fi genre. See it on the biggest screen with the best sound, and get immersed in the jaw-dropping world of Arrakis.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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