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Movie review: ‘Dune’ is a science fiction masterpiece

Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) holds two knives in his hands. (Photo courtesy of dunemovie.com)

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By William L.G. Stephens

“Dreams are messages from the deep” reads the black screen in the opening seconds of “Dune.” From this point on, every arresting visual demands our attention.

It’s only appropriate to mention that I haven’t read Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel “Dune”, of which this film is adapted from. However, I’ve seen my fair share of big budget science fiction movies come and go.

Whereas many filmmakers have failed before him, director Denis Villeneuve is able to bring a complex world alive through both story-telling and visual pieces.

“Dune” unloads a bananas amount of world building to us all at once. Depending on which aspects attract you the most, the film deserves multiple viewings, certainly once for the visuals and once for the characters.

In a nutshell, “Dune” is about House Atreides, who are thrown into a war over planet Arrakis, between its native Fremen people and the evil invaders House Harkonnen.  

Luckily for us, we are tentatively promised a sequel, by the addition of “Part One” in the film’s title credits. This provides Villeneuve a larger canvas to paint the story instead of cramming it all into one movie.

The expectant sequel allows Villeneuve the opportunity to build character development for “Dune’s” main protagonist, Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) by telling us his story through the characters around him, a formula that is often misused in cinema, if it is even used at all. 

The most valuable tool in any great filmmaker’s toolbox, is the one that allows them to pull us into another universe and not let us out until the end. On that note, “Dune” has established itself among the very best of doing so.

My only criticism of the movie lies within the casting of Chalamet in the role of Paul Atreides. It is difficult to shine bright when you are in the company of Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem. Though, it may very well be that part two will change my mind. 

As Chani played by Zendaya, (who I have a feeling will play a much larger role in the next chapter) tells Paul Atreides, “This is only the beginning.”

In other words, there is still much to be unveiled and “Dune” is a science fiction masterpiece.

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