ART3MIS’s review published on Letterboxd:
A great man doesn’t seek to lead, he is called to it.
Now with 10 films under his belt, Denis Villeneuve has once again proven he is the king of modern sci fi and one of the best filmmakers working today. It was one of my most anticipated of the year (the other being Last Night in Soho) and it delivered, it’s everything I expected. If you loved Blade Runner 2049 then you’ll love Dune Part One; it’s the same slow burn pacing and fantastic production design along with visuals reminiscent to Villeneuve’s Arrival. This is a film that needs to be experienced on the big screen, pure scale and ambition. It’s a true Villeneuve film and disguised as an arthouse film, just like 2049. It is the next Star Wars/LOTR, the world truly felt rich and full of character.
The sound design is impeccable, I felt every shield activation, sword slash, sandworm, explosion and vehicle all vibrating my seat. I loved the Ornithopters (the helicopters) they were amazing. The costume design is superb, I love Paul’s black trench coat. Greig Fraser’s cinematography didn’t disappoint, it’s dreamy, there’s lot of stunning close ups of faces and hands. The wide shots truly feel wide, it all feels large yet intimate. I was pleased to recognise a lot of the same dialogue from the book, directly adapted into this. I haven’t finished the book so I can’t say if it’s a great adaption but I can say this is an exquisite film.
Timothée Chamalet hits another home run with his performance, he IS Paul Atreides. Oscar Isaac is fantastic as always, Rebecca Ferguson impressed me a lot and all three of them had brilliant chemistry, I truly bought them as the Atreides house, their bond was strong. Jason Momoa was charming and the comic relief as Duncan, Josh Brolin as Gurney, I needed more of them, liked them both in these roles. Javier Bardem and Stellan Skarsgard are nearly unrecognisable and do a good job. Zendaya’s role is as small as Bautistas, she gets more screen time in Part 2. It’s the best ensemble I’ve seen since Knives Out and OUATIH.
Hans Zimmer’s score I really liked, it didn’t bombard any scenes, it felt like we were in this epic desert, I did hear elements of The Dark Knight. It’s precisely immersive and hooks you in. There’s a ticking clock element with a pounding which is as Hans Zimmer as you can get, the pounding is also implemented into the sound mix. I can see why people say this film has no third act but not every third act needs to be loud and full of explosions, this is a more delicate third act; there’s character development and the plot advances setting up Part 2. I was shocked to see that this was a divisive film but I loved it. BR2049 is still my favourite and his best film in my eyes but Dune is a feast for the eyes.
This is only the beginning.
Fun fact: Denis Villeneuve's third consecutive science fiction film after Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).