TIFF21: “DUNE” REVIEW
Review by David Baldwin
After years of anticipation and fan hype, Co-Writer/Director Denis Villeneuve’s take on DUNE has finally arrived. The tale of warring house factions and the native Fremen people over spice on the planet Arrakis is dense to say the least, but fans and novices like myself will equally find something to enjoy in this science fiction epic for the ages.
Long thought unfilmable (though there have been a few attempts to differing results), Villeneuve has taken everything he has learned as a Filmmaker over the past decade and has created something truly breathtaking. The world (or worlds in this case) are fully realized through incredible Production Design and Cinematography. The Visual Effects are spectacular, as are the Makeup Effects and Costuming. Hans Zimmer’s Score is legendary. I do not even have words to describe the sound design; it really is that great. Every single detail is precise, specific and may find you losing focus on the story just to take in everything Villeneuve has packed into the frame. This is not actors playing dress up in front of a green screen – this is next level filmmaking on a grand scale with everyone behind the scenes firing on all cylinders.
While I soaked in every single minute of Villeneuve’s take on DUNE, I found myself held back from truly adoring it because it is only half a story. People who have been following its development will not be surprised to see it called DUNE Part 1 in the opening reel, though some casual audience members may not be particularly pleased to see the Film end on a cliffhanger (nor the multiple false stopping points that make up the Film’s last half hour). I found myself increasingly annoyed by the prophetic visions lead character Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) because I knew I would need to wait until Part 2 in order to see them come to fruition. Moreover, being only half a story takes away from the magnificent performances given by the entire cast because they are not fully formed whatsoever. Zendaya is very clearly pivotal to this story, yet only hovers in the background as an enigmatic presence for the majority of the Film.
All of that may sound like a pan, but it is actually quite the opposite. I was so taken by the story of DUNE and what Villeneuve created that I really did not want to see it end. I wanted to see the next part of the story immediately and genuinely hope the film finds its audience in order to make Part 2 become a reality. Like every great artist, Villeneuve left me wanting more. So believe the hype. DUNE is everything you hoped it would be. Villeneuve is at the top of his game here and this just might be his finest hour.
DUNE screens at TIFF ’21:
Sat, Sep 11 Ontario Place Cinesphere 7:15 PM
Sun, Sep 12 Ontario Place Cinesphere 7:30 PM
Mon, Sep 13 Scotiabank 12 8:00 PM
Sat, Sep 18 Ontario Place Cinesphere 8:00 PM