It is a film that is both difficult and yet wonderful to embrace. As one critic said, “There’s talk and stillness in “Dune“.
Though it is not my favorite film of 2021, it is a must-see movie. And let me encourage you to see it at an IMAX theatre and not at home. The special effects credited to Marc Bitz and his crew is mesmerizingly captivating.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on the book by Frank Herbert published in 1965, the story takes place thousands of years in the future. It tells the story of two competing warrior/kings who are trying to control the planet known as Dune to reap the financial rewards flowing from the ability to grow valuable spice.
The plant is dominated by a landscape of drifting sands occupied by large, underground worms. Indigenous people known as the Fremen occupy the planet and their fate in this battle reminded me of Native Americans’ struggle to survive in North America as Europeans sought to occupy the continent.
The film has a powerful cast that holds its slow moments together. Oscar Isaac and Rebecca Ferguson play Duke Leto and Lady Jessica Atreides. With their son Paul (Timothée Chalamet), they move to the planet Arrakis/Dune to control the mining operation. But a battle quickly ensues as the evil Baron (Stellan Skarsgárd) seeks to eliminate them and capture its wealth.
While Mr. Isaac gives a moving performance as expected, Ms. Ferguson and young Mr. Chalamet control most of the movie. Chalament has constant dreams of joining the Fremen and linking up in some fashion with a mysterious young woman played by Zendaya. In many ways he reminds me of a young James Dean. The film’s ending makes it all but certain that a sequel involving these two would-be lovers waits in the cinematic weeds.
Ms. Ferguson gives a dynamic performance as a mother who can both console and kick ass. All of you should hunt her down in both “Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation” (2015) and “The Greatest Showman” (2017).
Let me also recognize some special performances by well-known actors in supporting roles. Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Stephen McKinley Henderson risk their lives to help Paul and his father succeed. In addition, Charlotte Rampling, Chang Chen and Sharon Duncan-Brewster play small but significant roles that allowed Paul to survive.
Finally, look for Hans Zimmer to be remembered at Oscar time for a musical score that adds a roar to the film’s many battle scenes. I suspect that most of you will have a good time rooting for a futuristic version of American Indians fighting to survive defeat and subjugation.