TV Party Tonight! #107

TV Party Tonight! #107

Friday, 04 March 2022

[4K/Blu-ray Combo]

Can you believe they made a Dune movie AGAIN? And that it turned out THIS good? Jodowosky’s Dune opened my world to the mythos surrounding the book and to Jodorowksy himself. My cultural world was changed after watching that documentary, so of course, after seeing David Lynch’s movie, the idea of a new Dune movie is a loaded proposition to me. What was a good sign was that Denis Villeneuve would be directing. The man has proven himself as being a person with a grand vision who is able to deliver the kind of large movies that make you think. He’s the blockbuster equivalent of coming out of an art-house movie and not knowing if the main character has been dead the whole time. With Villeneuve it’s heady in a good way. Also, Arrival is one of the greatest movies of all time. And his brilliant Bladerunner sequel further proved that the man can do a lot with a pre-conceived idea. So, expectations were high.

What was not good news was the casting. Look, big stars are the death of any movie, because you end up looking at the star and not the character. And honestly, few big stars really live up to their popularity. As soon as the cast of Dune was being announced, it became clear that Villeneuve doesn’t think any of his roles are too small for multi-million-dollar actors. Chalamet is fine, just fine. Oscar Isaac is fantastic. Rebecca Ferguson and Stellan Skarsgard are interesting. I roll my eyes at Jason Momoa (though he comes across like a loveable oaf quite effectively). Javier Bardem and Zendaya are completely unnecessary. They have 5 lines at most and Zendaya is reduced to far-away shots reminiscing perfume commercials. Also, we can agree she’s overrated, right?

But I loved this movie. I really did. Mostly because of all it did so well.

Villeneuve was somehow able to present the massive scope in which Dune is told, and that’s no small feat. He does this by focusing on set design and actually showing its size on screen. Something tells me these are real locations and not CGI, or maybe it’s just the way they’re shot, because the way the scenes are established, with acting happening in wide shots is something refreshing (though it shouldn’t be). Villeneuve also knows how to get the most of his characters and particularly the leads. Dune is a complex fantastical story (that, granted, I’m familiar with already), and his characters all stand out as unique entities contributing to the story. They move along their established parameters in this chess game and it’s riveting learning about this world through them. Every shot and scene is beautiful and compelling and you’ll hardly feel the 2.5 hours it takes to tell the first part of this movie.

I cannot iterate enough how, despite the bloated cast (which is all show), the film still succeeds in telling a deep and meaningful story and is a perfect entry to what, one would think, is the start of a new franchise. And at this point we need one. Who knows what the future holds for Dune, but this is about as good of a start as the story can get. Bravo.

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