Run time: 156 mins
Dune is influential. Dune is timeless. But most of all, Dune is obtuse and densely layered. Truly one of the most unfilmable of unfilmable novels. But if anyone can tackle it, it’s Denis Villeneuve.
He’s not the first; David Lynch tried, and famously failed to breathe life to Frank Herbert’s sci-fi opus. Here, Villeneuve wisely split the story into two, with this first part introducing us to the vast expanses of its universe.
Timothée Chalamet plays Paul Atreides, your archetypal hero, unsure of his powers and questioning the merits of the task before him. His father, the Duke (Oscar Isaac), has been handed stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, source of a magical substance which extends life and fuels space travel. But Arrakis is not entirely deserted. It is home to not just giant sand worms, but an oppressed people – the Fremen, including Zendaya and Javier Bardem – who see the spice harvesters as exploiters.
Soaking up the sand-sea of Arrakis on the big screen is one of those rare cinematic splendours. Villeneuve, clearly channeling David Lean, brings Arabia to the far reaches of space. Throw in Hans Zimmer’s pulsating, truly alien score, and you’ve got an otherworldly epic unlike anything else. (Jack Whiting)