Hollywood sci-fi treats are divided into two, namely blockbusters with giant budgets and minimalist indie/arthouse projects. Occasionally other variants appear, but the numbers are not large enough to produce a third camp. Monotone. Then came the second big screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune novel.
This version of Denis Villeneuve is completely different from that of David Lynch (1984), who is better known for his behind-the-scenes conflict. Supported by sufficient funds to produce an MCU film (165 million dollars), Dune has a blockbuster body, but has an arthouse spirit. Maybe only 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) comes close to Dune’s form, as a high-budget sci-fi artsy (92 million dollars when converted to present value). Top Movie Site
But this is not pretension. Writing the script with Eric Roth (A Star Is Born, Mank) and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange), Denis Villeneuve puts the spiritual element in his story. Like the best arthouse filmmakers, he has a sharp sense of taste, to link the human inner process with the universe. That the two, though of vastly different sizes, are connected. Therefore, various shots containing vast landscapes, as well as giant spaceships that make humans look dwarfed, are not just an exhibition of beauty. The visual effects are amazing. Magnificent at the same time looks real, but it would be useless without a vision, which is owned by the director.
The greatest connection between nature and humans comes through a spice called melange. Located on the arid planet called Arrakis, melange has various functions, ranging from extending life, maximizing the power of the mind, to allowing travel at the speed of light. Mastering the melange is the same as controlling the universe.
It’s too long and complicated to explain the details of Dune’s mythology, but the point is, by order of the ruler of the universe called “Emperor”, the Atreides under the leadership of Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), were given the task of managing the melange in place of Harkonnen led by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). ). If Harkonnen acts arbitrarily on the Fremen (original tribe of Arrakis) Leto wants to cooperate peacefully. Of course it didn’t go smoothly, because without him knowing, there was a conspiracy behind the appointment of Atreides to take care of the melange.
Timothée Chalamet plays Paul Atreides, the son of Leto’s relationship with his concubine, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Recently, Paul’s mind is being disturbed by a dream about Arrakis and the mysterious Fremen girl (Zendaya). A dream that feels more like a picture of the future than ordinary sleeping flowers. Best Movie
In addition to the sad aura that exactly represents the film’s atmosphere, it seems Chalamet’s stature is also the reason he was chosen. Small body. Thin. Not a person who will be seen as a champion by people. Seeing him standing among the massive expanse of nature, illustrates how helpless humans are in front of the universe.
Paul himself was helpless. At least in the beginning, before he was able to maximize his potential. It’s not just the physical potential that results from training with Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), because her mother, as a member of Bene Gesserit (a women’s association who trains body and mind to break human boundaries), also teaches how to use “voice”. A power controls one’s subconscious through the color of the voice.
When we first see Paul using his powers, Villenueve slips a few shots that feature things close to Paul. Although that power did not affect the surrounding conditions, the shots were not without function. As if Villeneuve confirmed that nature plays a role in these super abilities.
The further the groove moves, the more we find the impact of exploitation on nature. Instead of seeking harmony, the greed of the rulers who desire to monopolize the melange brings destruction and bloodshed. Both nature and humans were destroyed.
Therein comes the story of the savior. A messiah/mahdi. The Fremens called it “Lisan al Gaib”. Predictably, there is a religious element here (many Islamic undertones), outside of politics, tyranny, and the environment. The mythology is indeed very complex, so the 155 minute duration and split into two films can be justified. It may seem complicated at first, but thanks to a neat storytelling that knows when to start supplying new information, over time, the mythological maze will be easy to navigate.
Villeneuve’s weakness is only a matter of directing melee fights. Despite having names like Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho the swordsman from Atreides and Dave Bautista as Giossu Rabban who is Baron Harkonnen’s nephew, Dune’s row of swordfighting and bare-handed actions appear powerless. Villeneuve’s choice of angle also tends to be awkward, and also often makes it difficult for us to digest what is going on.
Luckily Dune isn’t action-packed sci-fi, so the weaknesses above aren’t that annoying. For some viewers, maybe the lack of action (even dividing the story into two parts makes Dune end before it reaches the climax), the long duration, as well as the slow tempo, make this film less friendly. But if you can accept that, along with the visual beauty and atmospheric musical accompaniment by Hans Zimmer (the composer’s best work in recent years), you will find a sci-fi treat, which defines “epic” not only through the scale of the story that is visible, but also in the realm of spiritual contemplation and feeling. Movie Review