They say, "Three's The Charm", but when talking about film adaptations of a single source material, then you speak not of the source, but rather the vision of the person creating the particular version of the material.
"DUNE" has been brought to the screen three times. First in 1984, by David Lynch in a disappointing mess of over-excess and too much indulgent weirdness that strayed too far from the actual story. Then in 2000-2003, it was brought to the television screen in an ambitious mini-series that caught the actual spirit of the novel, and eve†n though it was highly entertaining, it was just too big a story to be contained in such a small format. Now comes talented Director Denis Villeneuve's version, built for the biggest screen, IMAX, and sharpened to suit a modern audience's expectations of a classic sci-fi novel.
Because the original novel's story covered the entire sentient universe and created a contrived language that required a Glossary at the back of the book for true understanding, it made its translation to the screen all that much harder and required a storyteller of incredible talent to pull off. It's also a long tale, and trying to cram it all into one 2-hour film as the first version did, paid it no justice, nor did stretching it out in a miniseries that covered two books of the series and went on forever.
This version of the first half of the first book is right on target. It's beautiful to behold, easy to understand, and familiar enough to seem plausible in some farfetched universe.
Here's The Storyline...
"DUNE" relates the mythic tale of Paul Atreides (Chalamet), the gifted young son of Duke Leto Atreides (Isaac).
Maneuvered into accepting stewardship of the most valuable property in the universe, Leto moves his entire Dukedom to the desert planet of "Arrakis", where he is tasked with increasing the production of "Spice", the only substance that makes interstellar travel possible.
Once settled on the Planet, Paul begins to encounter the "Fremin", the strange indigenous people of the planet with electric blue eyes who live in the deep desert. He begins to feel a kinship with them in his dreams, but before he can interpret the strange hold they have on him, an unseen malevolent force explodes into unexpected war and he must fight for his life and family.
Villeneuve does a masterful job telling the story in every way you would expect. The cinematography is stunning, the music is immersive, and the special effects are seamless. It is a large-scale spectacle the like of which we've not seen in a long time.
While the film was incredible in IMAX, Warner Bros. had such great source material to work from that the 2160p resolution offers some of the best visuals I have seen. Fine grains of sand are detailed, the blue eyes of the Fremin are piercing and the effects look extremely realistic.
Matching the video quality is the Dolby Atmos audio. Explosions rattle the entire room, the haunting soundtrack is beautiful and the dialogue is crisp. The lossless track is of the highest quality and compliments the 4K video well. My entire home was shaking at one point!
There are over an hour of extras that are housed on the Blu-ray disc. They include behind-the-scenes featurettes and an extra called Filmbooks made up of five featurettes that offer an overview of the humanoid tribes as well as the coveted "spice". The latter feature serves almost like a tutorial for the film which is helpful in understanding the dynamics of the groups and the planet Arrakis.
If Dune fails in any way, it's in the performances, where the concentration is more on the action than characterization. Yet, all the actors do a wonderful job, it was just the Director's choice to go a more visual way.
My take... The film almost took my breath away. I guess because the material is so familiar and I knew what to anticipate. It also felt a little too long, dragging in several places. If you're a sci-fi fan, go buy it, preferably in 4K UHD DISC.
"DUNE" is Rated PG-13 Some Disturbing Images, Sequences of Strong Violence, and Some Suggestive Material. Running Time: 2hrs 35min.
The Royal Houses (8:12)
Building the Ancient Future (6:26)
My Desert, My Dune (4:50)
Constructing the Ornithopters (5:38)
Designing the Sandworm (5:40)
Beware the Baron (5:00)
Wardrobe From Another World (2:52)
A New Soundscape (11:12)
Filmbooks (5 parts, 10:26 total)
The Bene Gesserit
The Spice Melange
Inside Dune (3 parts, 12:25 total)
The Training Room
The Space Harvester
The Sardaukar Battle