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Dune (2021): Quick Movie Review

So I got to see DUNE early, at a Cineworld Unlimited screening. They handed out free bottles of 7UP on the way in - a nice touch, seeing as we were going to spend 2 1/2 hours on a desert planet.

My verdict? It's an invigorating sci-fi epic.

Granted, it's an unwieldy book to adapt, but director Villeneuve is in complete control here. He balances the trippy mysticism with decidedly unromantic and brutally tactile science fiction world-building. It's a gorgeous-looking movie, but these are definitely not places you'd want to visit (apart from the Atreides' home world, Caladan).

The immense scale doesn't dwarf the intricate story or the intimate moments between characters; rather it enhances them. That's the key to Dune. What struck me throughout was how gripping the narrative was, even though I knew the story inside out. The prophecy is brilliantly handled. The ways Paul and his mother Jessica react to it, and how it shapes them individually, not to mention their relationship, is the heart of this tale. It's to Villeneuve's huge credit that the film's cerebral aspects work just as well as its massive action scenes.

The performances are strong across the board, but Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson are just outstanding. Charlotte Rampling makes a big impression as the Reverend Mother, as does Jason Momoa as the heroic Duncan Idaho. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Javier Bardem as Stilgar, one of the leaders of the Fremen, in Part 2.

Hans Zimmer conjures a stirring, exotic soundscape that takes risks (bagpipes!) but somehow captures the soul of this Middle Eastern-flavoured world and its harsh, mystical nature. It's more mood music than anything remotely melodic, but it feels right, and I can't wait to hear how Zimmer develops it in the sequel.

Note my confidence there will be a Part 2. Dune is no Star Wars, or even Avatar. It's darker, edgier, more complex. But like those, it's very, very cinematic. I for one didn't want it to end. The audience I saw it with seemed enthralled as well. And it ends on such a great teaser, promising big things for the future of Arrakis. Villeneuve *has* to finish his masterpiece.


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