Review ‘Dune’: science fiction in its purest form

It is not the first time that Dune, the science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965, has been made into a film. As is almost always the case when a novel is a quick success, it tends to arouse the interest of filmmakers who, taking advantage of its success, adapt it to film. In fact, in 1984 the acclaimed director David Lynch already directed a version that crashed at the box office. This time the person in charge of adapting Dune for the cinema is Denis Villeneuve. And he seems to have succeeded much more successfully than his predecessor. The film, which had 10 Oscar nominations, has won a total of six statuettes: Best Score, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects.

Dune: a work that is difficult to adapt

This is not the first time Denis Villeneuve has tackled the science fiction genre. The Canadian-born screenwriter and film director has already delved into the genre with films such as The Arrival ( 2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017). But science fiction is not the only field in which Villeneuve is fluent, as he already demonstrated in the intriguing Prisoners ( 2013) or in the heartbreaking Incendies (2010).

We are not, therefore, dealing with a newcomer. However, the challenge of adapting Herbert’s novel to film was difficult both because of its length and its complexity. The Canadian has attempted to do so by creating a diptych, dividing the story into two parts. For the moment, we have to make do with the first part. But, let’s be honest, Dune, although visually splendid, is not on a par with the aforementioned titles. Perhaps the lack of rhythm, perhaps the excessive length or the lack of a consistent script are aspects that don’t quite grab you and leave you with the sensation that the director is travelling without a clear objective.

Dune by Denis Villeneuve

Dune Crítica

Throughout 155 minutes, the spectator will enter the story of Arrakis (also called Dune), a desert planet that has become the most important in the universe due to the raw material it possesses. The year is 10191 and spice is the most valuable commodity in the universe, essential for both interstellar travel and life extension. The locals of Arrakis, the Fremen, are desert dwellers. However, by order of the emperor, the House of Atreides will be in charge of exploiting this material. Thus begins a plot full of betrayal and deceit between the main Houses to seize the power of this powerful but inhospitable planet.

Science fiction on a par with other cult sagas?

Dune the film features a star-studded cast of film stars. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Javier Bardem and Jason Momoa, among others, parade through the film, filling it with familiar faces but no less convincing in their roles. However, the characters are a little flat, and none of them are given much depth.

The film has a superb production design and splendid sound effects (by Hans Zimmer) that make it a true audiovisual festival. There’s no arguing with that. The result is a hypnotic, dazzling, action-packed, adventurous work that is capable of causing a sense of grandeur. Everything one wants to enjoy cinema in capital letters. Cinema that entertains, cinema that evades. But nothing more.

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