Some people enjoy reading the last page of a book before finishing the first chapter. If you’re one of these unique readers, then “Dune 2021” might be the movie for you. However, if you prefer to experience the twists and turns of a novel along with the characters, “Dune” may not be your ideal movie-night pick. Please note there is a very minor hint to a spoiler in this review, so read at your own risk.
In keeping with the tradition started by the 1984 movie adaptation, the opening scene of “Dune” spoils the largest twist in the book — the value of spice — the fictional drug the book is based around. In the book, the reveal is left for the final pages and forces the reader to re-examine the contents of the novel. To lose this reveal undermines Frank Herbert’s carefully crafted world.
Speaking of misconceptions, Zendaya (Chani) — who was advertised as Timothee Chalamet’s (Paul Atriedes) co-star — only appears in about 10 minutes of the film, and her exceptional range is not utilized. Half her screen-time was spent dramatically turning towards the audience as the score crescendos. Even in part two (the fact that the film will be split into two halves was cleverly hidden from viewers) Chani will likely not take on a significantly larger role.
Putting this aside, “Dune’s” stars should all look forward to receiving Oscars this spring. Jacqueline West, Paul Lambert and Patrice Vermette’s skill is impossible to overlook. And before you wonder who Patrice Vermette played, know that the average viewer hasn’t heard of any of these actors before because the publicity team has been highlighting the wrong craftsman.
As costume designer, West’s clean and modern creations made me ponder functionality and style across a violent and futuristic universe. Visual Effects Supervisor Lambert gives audiences effective CGI and Effects and Production Designer Vermette’s work cannot be overlooked. The breathtaking design of the world, from the spaceships to the jaw-dropping panoramic views of deserts are thanks to Vermette’s skill.
The phrase “one-note” gains a whole new meaning throughout the 2 hours and 35 minutes spent watching “Dune”. Rebecca Ferguson (Jessica) and Chalamet, who dominate the screen, present only the slightest changes in facial expression throughout the film. Much of the ensemble was strong, though, especially Oscar Isaac in the role of Duke Leto Atreides. Without engaging leads, the film falls flat. Even if you are familiar with the plot, it will be hard to understand the characters reactions, or lack thereof.
If you’re a devoted “Dune” fan looking for an accurate representation of your hero, Paul Atreides, watching Daniel Craig’s portrayal of James Bond in “No Time to Die” will show a far closer representation of the character than the one director Denis Villeneuve and Chalamet create.