Denis Villeneuve’s sense of minimalism in depicting grandeur is one of the signature things that set his movies apart from his contemporaries. In his films, the supernatural or the so-called scale factor essentially becomes a backdrop for the story’s emotional core. In Dune, the latest adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel, one could see similar cinematic sensibility applied by Villeneuve. It’s your typical story of “the chosen one.” But the making has that quality to give you an immersive experience in terms of character molding and world-building. The way Dune portrays the character arch of its hero makes it an absorbing watch.

Ruler of Ocean planet Caladan, Duke Leto, is asked by Emperor Shaddam to rule Arrakis and take control of the spice extraction process. Even though he was against the idea of supremacy over the people of Arrakis, he had to obey the orders from the emperor. Paul, son of Leto and his wife Lady Jessica, has the powers of his mother to control people through his voice, and he has been trained for combat. Together they arrive at Arrakis to take over the spice extraction. What we see are events that unfold after the arrival of Atreides.

I have not read the book. But when you see the movie, you sort of realize that the character pool is elaborate, and one can sense a lot of backstories with each character. Villeneuve and his co-writers Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts are not trying the exposition way to establish the characters. They are moving forward with the story, and in that process, they subtly inform us about the bond and power dynamics between the characters. When Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho decides to fight to protect Paul, even though we don’t really know what the past of the two was, we would realize that the bond was strong. This decision to avoid straightforward detailing helps the story move forward without lingering on to situations for too long.

As Paul Atreides, Timothee Chalamet gets a hefty role with a wider range to perform. Through the course of the story, we can see Paul going through too much emotional tension, and Chalamet presented that really well on screen. Rebecca Ferguson, as the conflicted mother, Lady Jessica was impressive. Oscar Isaac had the much-needed grace in his outing as Duke Leto. Stellan Skarsgard, as the Baron, looks extremely intimidating and manages to perform really well despite the pile of prosthetics all over his body. Josh Brolin was effective as Paul’s mentor. Javier Bardem and Zendaya will be having a significant space in the already announced part 2 of the movie.

Villeneuve’s visual aesthetics is the movie’s high point. Greig Fraser, with those IMAX lenses, captures the grandeur of the world of Dune. The colors aren’t that saturated, and the visual tone indicates the emotional vibe of the movie. The writing tries to build the world through the characters rather than giving us too many explanations. The film’s visual effects are subtle, and the way Dune enters set pieces is really smooth. Hans Zimmer’s scores are terrific. Joe Walker follows the same pacing strategy he has followed in his earlier collaborations with Villeneuve.

Dune might feel like a patience tester for some. But much like Denis Villeneuve’s last film, Blade Runner 2049, Dune also pulls you into its world by the time it ends. The minimalism they have kept in the detailing of the characters will make the sequel an interesting one. The slow pace of the movie helps it in giving depth to the situations without too many explanations.

Final Thoughts

Dune might feel like a patience tester for some. But much like Denis Villeneuve's last film, Blade Runner 2049, Dune also pulls you into its world by the time it ends.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.