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Dune (2021) | Film Review

By Emma Chen

The article contains spoilers

‘Third time’s a charm,’ they say. Indeed, Dune (2021) is the cinematic proof of the truth behind the common saying. Directed by the French-Canadian Denis Villeneuve, it is the adaptation of the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert. Villeneuve is not the first one to try and transpose the novel’s magic onto the big screen; the unrivalled David Lynch did it first, and failed, followed by Harrison, whose miniseries underwent the same fate.

photo courtesy of IMDb

I will be frank with you; I am not the biggest fan of sci-fiction films. What brought me to the dusty cinema seats for the display of Dune is the trust I put in Villeneuve – especially after Arrival in 2016 – and in Timothée Chalamet, who could interpret a tree in the background of an action movie and would still catch everyone’s attention.

Unlike Lynch, Villeneuve divided the film into two parts to avoid squashing the already complicated plot from the book into a three-hour-long film. I would gladly state that such a decision helps the public understand what is going on, but the truth is, it does not.

The film is still a cauldron of names, locations, and background stories that intertwine and overlap; that does not make it less pleasant to watch.

Despite the film lasting three hours, the ending leaves you with the need to know more about the background of some characters, the history of Arrakis and what will happen to Paul and his mother in the desert. The good news is that Dune: Part Two is officially confirmed, so hopefully most of our questions will find their answer there. The bad news is that the second part is expected to be released in October 2023, almost two years from now. We will have to organise some group-rewatch-nights, as at that point I will not remember what the story is about.

However, one thing about Dune will remain vivid in my head for a long time: the sandworms. The colossal sandworms which inhabit the Arrakis desert, move faster than cheetahs in the savannah and swallow whatever produces rhythmic vibrations on the surface. As a Zoologist-to-be, I cannot help but notice how visually accurate the mouth and the skin texture of the worms are, and even the way they feed is quite realistic – as much as it can be in a sci-fi film.

Speaking of visually appealing elements, if I had to choose one reason why Dune is worth watching, it is the cinematography. From the lighting to the symmetry in the scenes, every detail is pertinent and aesthetically pleasing. In addition, the special effects, such as the body shields, appear natural throughout.

Lastly, if not for the plot, watch Dune because you will spend three hours listening to Hans Zimmer’s evoking soundtracks and admiring breathtaking landscapes.


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