Two Cineasts’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film reviews in 22 sentences (or less)
Today: Dune: Part One
„This is only the beginning...“
(Zendaya as Chani)
Hi everybody, epic, spiritual, visceral, emotional - we're absolutely flashed by the clever blockbuster spectacle adaptation of Frank Herbert's influential milestone universe and one of our favorite book series, we have to say that the waiting and longing for the next big sci-fi picture was definitely worth it, an experience reminiscent of "Lord of the Rings" for many reasons. We couldn't help ourselves to think that we witnessed the creation of something big... .
But let's start at the beginning and the three questions and worries that were nagging at me quite a while: can "Dune" hit the calm philosophical and political core of the novel after such an action packed trailer or was it just that way to appeal to a wide audience? How are powerful moments like "the voice" that work so well when you read it implemented in the film and did Villeneuve overall do justice to the novel always in mind that what may work in a book may not work in a movie and vice versa? I can now happily put all all my apprehensions away and say that "Dune: Part One" was the best film of the year and exactly what I was hoping to get: a second "The Fellowship of the Rings", a prologue that declares with every single fiber "just like that" and is not a mere preparer for more, the movie is captivating on its own.
"Dune" takes its time for really extraordinary worldbuilding rivaling the most ambitious worlds from the mentioned "Lord of the Rings" to "Star Wars" or "Game of Thrones", with nearly overwhelming input, information and exposition even later on in the third act. I did not have the feeling that "Dune: Part One" functions as a basic setup for the second part, the decision to divide the first book into two parts gives many smaller moments, storylines and supporting characters the chance to breathe more and act more alive.
There is no detailed spared to create immersive fantastical world and deep sci-fi concept.
The movie repeatedly takes its time to slow down after huge events to calm and sharpen the eyes and mind as "Dune" has to explain a lot that is omnipresent in the novel, like the technical state of things in the universe, and does that at all time even in the background. I was happy to see Villeneuve's focus on the complex power plays and political intrigues rather than indulging in unnecessary moments or more action, a bit like what "Star Wars: Episode l" could have been when it was centered more around the political nets and puppet master than CGI battle sequences and comic relief - "Dune" is dark and gritty, definitely not a "Star Wars" film. "Dune" takes the first-time audience and the lovers of the book both very serious, clever and stylish just as a more modern adaptation has to be, epic action, emotionally authentic, but also the well-known themes of destiny, religion, environmentalism, totalitarianism and philosophy through the eyes of masterclass director Denis Villeneuve.
Amazing imagery - with the second to none visual effects, photography, sound design, set design and costumes is "Dune" capable of transporting the audience right into desert; the technical aspects are absolutely incredible for example the color grading or the haptical feeling of objects and vehicles, a little bit like "Alien" or "The Terminator" were everything creates this certain realistic feeling and "Dune" even looks as if it was a movie from the past but paired with the newest technical achievements. There is always something to discover and I couldn't let my eyes off the screen for a second but "Dune" is a spellbinding symphony of production, cinematography, story and sound as Hans Zimmer reinvents himself with an energetic and epic soundtrack that is a guaranteed goosebumps provider.
„...THIS was only the beginning? Okay... we want MORE!“
(The Two Cineasts)
The a-list cast is top-notch and just as I've imagined the characters from the novel, Timothée Chalamet is the dreamy, insecure but mysterious Paul Atreides from my imagination, Jason Momoa the charismatic companion or Stellen Skarsgard the sinister incarnation of the greed for power, and so on.
The only negative point is that "Dune: Part One" doesn't find the perfect moment to end what doesn't surprise when seeing how much of the first half of the book is actually in the film, right in the center as well as in the background.
Dusty, unique, nerdy, epochal or simply Dune a blockbuster, or THE blockbuster that has simultaneously very high artistic standards that shouts with all its power and impact "watch me on the big screen!" ”Dune: Part One“ is the first part and not-self contained, just like the first two ”Lord of the Rings“ and although we have to wait a while I can't really wait to see the second part, this is cinema!