Dune: A Box Office Supernova Worth the Wait
Here’s my potentially shameful admission: until I exited the theater and happened upon a couple of young men comparing the film to the book, I thought the source material for Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ was the 1984 movie. According to Wikipedia, the book even has a bunch of sequels.
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Dune,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Chiabella James. © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
In the very distant future, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) accepts a new gig running the faraway planet of Arrakis. Arrakis is known for its dangerous terrain; giant sandworms; its native people, the Freman; and, perhaps most importantly, a hallucinogenic drug that goes by the name “spice.”
Joining him on his journey to this drug harvesting operation, is his son, Paul (Timothée Chalamet), and his baby mama, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). While father is grooming son to one day take over the family business, mother is busy teaching him the mystical ways of her people.
While acknowledging the danger they will face on their new planet, it turns out that Arrakis is worse than they imagined. When nefarious forces show up to wipe House Atreides from existence, Paul and Jessica are forced to flee into the desert, where they encounter the aforementioned sandworms and Freman, including a young Freman woman, Chani (Zendaya), who has been haunting Paul’s dreams.
Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck and Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Dune,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary release. (Photo by Chiabella James. © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
So, here’s the first thing about ‘Dune’ – it’s quite long, coming in at 156 minutes. And here’s the second thing about ‘Dune’ – it takes a bit for it to find its footing, and the first act drags as it builds the foundation (characters, planets, backstories, etc.) that the rest of the story – and presumed sequels – will be built upon. It does get there, and once it does it’s worth the wait.
As studios have rolled out the movies they delayed in 2020 due to COVID-19, there’s been very few that had anything to gain aside from money by waiting for the “safe” return of movie-goers. ‘Dune’ is one of the few. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s full of action – it’s absolutely the kind of experience that’s best on the big screen.
Not only is ‘Dune’ a visual delight, but the cast is top-notch. In addition to the always solid Isaac, Ferguson, Zendaya, and Chalamet, the cast includes Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgård. That’s an awful lot of box office power and talented actors.
And to top it off, once you get through the world building, the story is engaging and sucks you in to the point where the last two hours fly by.
The hype that’s built over the last year for ‘Dune’ is completely justified.
Zendaya as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure ‘Dune,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Now, I do suggest people pump the brakes in making comparisons to previous blockbuster franchises. One of the first critic blurbs I saw called it the “new Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.” And while this first movie is an excellent jumping off point, no sequels have been officially announced, and even if there is more to come, there have been plenty of series that started strong and flamed out – I’m looking at you ‘Maze Runner.’
And anyway, as a wise man (Randall Graves) once said: “There’s only one return, OK, and it ain’t of the King, it’s of the Jedi.”
Whether you’re one of the people that loved the book(s) and/or original movie or you’re a newb like me, ‘Dune’ has proven to be worth the wait. Even if it’s not the next ‘Star Wars.’
★★★★ of ★★★★★