Epic for all the right reasons

Dune (12A, 155 minutes)

When it comes to Frank Herbert’s 1965 classic sci-fi novel, there can be no shortcuts, as made painfully evident 37 years ago when constant studio interference put genius filmmaker David Lynch off working in the mainstream forever.

Not all bad then.

Part medieval saga, part sprawling Biblical epic, part Game of Thrones in space without the incest, this space odyssey of a feudal universe was written purely as a piece of literature without one eye on film rights, something so many of today’s authors are guilty of, and it’s not difficult to see the debt George Lucas in particular owes to its expansive vision of a galactic empire in the distant future.

Expansive… Denis Villeneuve’s modern take on the tale is certainly that.

Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreidies

Everything about Dune this time around is big. So so big. It’s massive… colossal… goodness it’s huge, from the acceptance that to tell the tale properly it’s going to take more than the running time of one film (although I could have easily sat through another two hours of this) and the Endgame scale green screen and CGI technology to an inspired choice of cast including Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Javier Barden, a clean shaven Jason Momoa and an unrecognisable Stellan Skarsgaard as the corpulent Mr Creosote lookalike villain Baron Harkonnen.

But the best fit of the bunch is Timothee Chalamet, who encapsulates every aspect of the leading character Paul Atreidies. I can’t image anyone else who could have filled the role more effectively.

Despite the vastness of the desert planet Arrakis, where sweat and even your tears have to be recycled into drinking water and the cathedral-like architecture, director Villeneuve still manages to instil an intense atmosphere of doom-laden claustrophobia and impending cataclysm.

Don’t let the setting of distant planets fool you, Dune is a heavy tome of treachery and destiny…with 400 metre-long sandworms!

There’s no light relief here and nothing ‘lite’ in the quality of the entertainment on offer.

Everything is on a grand scale as befits a film that sees itself as a big deal, and actually lives up to it.

However, it’s worth remembering that the distributors are Warner Bros, the studio that made idiots of themselves over Justice League and there is as yet no confirmation that a second part of Dune will even be made.

Which would render this engrossing piece of cinema completely pointless.

RATING: 9/10

Mick Ferris

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