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Dune is a truly breathtaking space opera



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FILM REVIEW: DUNE (12A), SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: TIMOTHEE CHALAMET, REBECCA FERGUSON, OSCAR ISAAC, JASON MOMOA, JOSH BROLIN, JAVIER BARDEM, DAVE BAUTISTA, SHARON DUNCAN-BREWSTER, STELLAN SKARSGARD, CHARLOTTE RAMPLING & ZENDAYA

RUNNING TIME: 2 HR 35 MINS DIRECTOR: DENIS VILLENEUVE

Dune (12A) (52849508)
Dune (12A) (52849508)

If the person tasked with formulating a new Star Wars universe for this generation did as spectacular a job as Denis Villeneuve does here – then everyone would be extremely happy.

Just maybe with a bit less talk and more action.

This truly breathtaking space opera – reimagined from the 1984 film of the same name – is an epic wonder from the man behind Blade Runner 2049 and Sicario.

This start of a two-parter (or even maybe a trilogy) is almost a galaxy-based equivalent to Peter Jackson’s original The Lord of The Rings films. It has that grandiose visual appeal and high production values, that gives you the unequivocal feeling that Villeneuve has passionately put his ‘blood, sweat and tears’ into this project.

And just like with (my fantastical yardstick) The Fellowship of the Ring – or probably The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as a better example – the methodical (and unhurried) first movie set-up won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

In the far future of humanity, Oscar Isaac’s Duke Leto – along with his concubine Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and son, and future heir Paul (the movie-stealing Timothee Chalamet) – accepts the stewardship of the dangerous desert planet known as Arrakis, and takes his loyal military officers – including Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) – under the banner of the House of Atreides, from their current home of Caladan.

But the planet’s previous inhabitants House Harkonnen – led by Stellan Skarsgard’s Baron with his military commander Glossu Raban (Dave Bautista) by his side – aren’t happy at being expelled from world nicknamed ‘Dune’ by the overseeing powerful Emperor. Especially as they’d become rich off the desert’s valuable natural resource of ‘spice’ that extends human vitality and is critical for interstellar travel.

This then leads to a multi-faceted scheming plot for the previous regime to overthrow the Duke and the new land protectors.

Alongside this in an important sub-plot, Paul becomes aware that his mother is an acolyte of the Bene Gesserit, an exclusively female order whose members possess advanced physical and mental abilities – and as Jessica bore a son, he’s become the first male to potentially become a ‘superbeing’. This has been reflected in his progressive state of ultra-realistic dreams about Arrakis’ skilled desert fighters, known as the Fremen (which includes Javier Bardem’s leader Stilgar and Zendaya’s Chani), which could just be vital to the Atreides’ ultimate survival.

And while (as aforementioned) all the above won’t be to everyone’s tastes during the methodical and complex two and half hour plus runtime, it is so refreshing to have a new franchise in the movie world.

If you have patience – headlined by terrific performances from Chalamet and Momoa in particular among a stellar cast – then you’ll see the dunes slowly rise into something that hints at being truly special.

Throw in some intense scenes with the desert’s mammoth ‘moving Sarlacc Pit Monster-esque’ sandworms – then the slow-burn begins setting exciting little fires alight that whet the appetite for more.

Arise Sir Villeneuve and take a bow – thank you for the new space toy for us to play with.

Rating: 4.5/5

By Gavin Miller



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