Dune: Building Pillars of Sand

Dune is the film adaptation of the 1965 science fiction novel of the same name. Despite prioritizing worldbuilding over characterization at times, it delivers an enjoyable story with truly spectacular visuals and technical effects.

It should be noted that I have never read the book this film is adapted from, thus I can judge it only on its own merits, not on its merits as an adaptation. It should also be noted that this is the first half of a two-film series. Because of this, and because it is adapting a 412-page novel with an extensive internal lore, it is somewhat understandable that Dune sometimes seems more interested in showing off the world and explaining its inner workings than in immersing viewers in the story itself. Even with a two-and-a-half-hour runtime, the film still has a lot to cover. Still, the sheer amount of information dumped on the audience can be overwhelming and even tedious at times.

Despite this, the main cast puts in a solid performance. Timothée Chalamet, of Hostiles and The King fame, puts in a very strong and surprisingly active performance as Paul Atreides, the heir to the ducal house Atreides and our main protagonist. Rebecca Ferguson plays his mother, Lady Jessica, and displays the character’s conflicting loyalties to her family and to her religion quite well. Oscar Isacc plays Paul’s father, Duke Leto Atreides, and brings a restrained gravitas that feels fitting for his role. The only real issue I have with the cast is that the film criminally underuses Zendaya, but that will hopefully be corrected in the sequel.

The real highlight of the movie is its technical and visual brilliance. The visuals in this film are quite simply astonishing when seen in a theater and the score highlights this excellently. While the film is available on HBO Max, I highly recommend it be seen in a theater as this is a film that needs to be experienced as much as watched. The real question is whether or not this film’s sequel will deliver on all that this film builds.

All in all, 4 out of 5

Too much set up, but a solid movie nonetheless.