Dune is the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic Sci-Fi novel—well, the first half. Story has Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Issac) and his family being assigned to takeover spice production on the desert planet of Arrakis from the vile Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). It turns out to be a trap and after a massacre, Leto’s escaped son Paul (Timothée Chalamet) is now left on the hostile planet with his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). They must somehow survive heat, sandworms and the mystical natives called The Fremen. Lady Jessica, however, is a woman of mystical abilities herself and her powerful son Paul may be the prophesized savior The Freman are waiting for—The Kwisatz Haderach!
Adaptation is directed by Denis Villeneuve from his script with Eric Roth and John Spaihts. Having read the book, this is an epic task and as an adaptation, this is a far better one than David Lynch’s bombastic but entertaining 1984 flick. The problem is it’s far less fun or involving. Villeneuve’s first half of the story looks great and has a solid cast, but aside from a couple of sequences, meanders along till it’s abrupt conclusion. The Harkonnen attack on House Atreides aside, the film has a ponderous pace and feels far longer than it’s 156 minute runtime. Dune was not an action heavy book, but this flick seems to drag, not to mention Timothée Chalamet is kind of a dull lead as Paul. He doesn’t have the charisma to be the savior of Arrakis he is supposed to be. The FX and visuals are spectacular and the action is equally so, the few times we get some, but overall this flick moves slower than a sandworm and isn’t nearly as involving as the detail and intrigue filled literary classic it’s trying to adapt. Maybe a Game of Thrones style series would have been a more efficient approach. Hopefully the planned Dune Part 2 will gives us both the story and entertainment we came for in this part. Also stars Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa and Zendaya, all in roles far smaller than they deserved.