“Dune: Part One” (2021) Review

The spice must flow.

“Dune: Part One” is a superb film that succeeds because it had a production and writing team that knew how to jettison the more tedious opening chapters of the sci-fi novel, while at the same time being faithful to the story in both big and small ways. The film takes its attention to detail seriously, from spacecraft and still-suits, to the Harkonnen Baron and his cultish clan house. Everything appears and exists as if it were naturally a part of the wildly creative universe of Dune.

These details of “Dune: Part One” shine because none of them are rushed or glanced over, thanks to the decision to split the story into two parts. Such cinematic decisions to divide a story into parts can hobble projects as half baked ideas trying to fill film runtimes with an eye for maximizing studio dollar (See: “The Hobbit” films, or any sequel ever made). But “Dune: Part One” is an exceedingly well paced creation that grapples with its complicated source material and provides a sense of well earned reverence for the desert world of Arakis. Not only does the film mirror key sequences of the book almost verbatim, but the importance of the planet’s ecology is spot on and given appropriate emphasis.

The film manages to capture a truly epic scale with absolutely stunning scenes throughout, including vast but calculated action sequences, and a chilling, otherworldly score by Hans Zimmer. Also of note are the idiosyncratic and cerebral characters of Dune, which are filled with a thrillingly well cast ensemble of actors. Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides plays his central character well, but the main supporting cast is also truly an impeccable lot.

“Dune: Part One” is likely to rest in the pantheon of essential sci-fi films if its strategic vision pans out. The test for director Denis Villeneuve and his team, and what will ultimately seal the fate of how the film is received with time, is how “Dune: Part Two” sticks its eventual landing. Without spoiling, the latter portion of the novel is a fantastically weird creation that will need an appropriate amount of care for it to succeed on the screen. “Dune: Part One” provides a great taste of what’s to come, and properly brings a classic saga back to the big screen with flaring fanfare.

92% A-

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