by Drew Constantine
Frank Herbert’s novel Dune is the Afghanistan of science-fiction cinema. A proverbial graveyard of high-profile projects associated with it has at best been met with bitter disappointment by hard-core sci-fi fans and at worst seen death before they were even born. The various failed attempts at creating a successful adaptation of it evoke the harshest lessons of Greek myth — Sisyphus, a man doomed to the eternal task of pushing a rock over a hill, only to fall again and again perpetually when the summit seems near — this is the colossus of adapting Dune to film. Many have tried, and many have failed, over and over again.
Herbert’s novel is arguably the most influential text in the canon of science-fiction. If one were to set it side by side with the best of fantasy literature, perhaps only J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy could equal the measure of respect it has by its sublime recognition as a masterpiece by fans and critics alike. Yet, any attempt to do Dune justice on film has been like the 12 tasks of Hercules. Well, Denis Villeneuve may be the director to kill the seven-headed hydra and slay the three-headed dog Cerebus in hell. In other words, he’s the fucking man right now in sci-fi. If you don’t know, now you know. He is the visionary behind Arrival and he did Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner.
If you’re a true fan of science-fiction cinema, there are only two gods you worship, Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubric. The influence of Blade Runner, Alien, A Clockwork Orange, and 2001: A Space Oddessy is not lost on any super sci-fi head. The fact that Villeneuve was chosen to do Blade Runner 2049 is not by accident. He’s a fucking genius. His take on Dune is epic. So much so that he is doing it in two parts. Frank Herbert’s novel carries a monolithic scope that is brilliant and intimidating and this movie delivers that. Imagine an intergalactic empire dependent on one resource to traverse galaxies. That element only exists on the planet Arrakis. Arrakis is the home of spice. Spice is the only fuel in the galaxy that makes interplanetary travel viable. This is a documentary of a war between two houses of a galactic empire over the fate of the minority citizens of this planet. So, spice is like oil for starships and the citizens of Arrakis are like Africans and Muslims in the Middle East who get fucked over for their resources. This is a story of a young man who threatens to bring change to the empire. The film is a slow burn and if you’re a fan of the novel, it takes the source very seriously. Villeneuve employs a ridiculous roll call of talented actors, including Timothee Chalamet, Jason Momoa, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, and Dave Bautista to name a few in the legion of great actors in this film. The all-star cast takes a back seat to the cinematic wonder this film presents. Fuck the plot. If you read the books, you already know it. If you haven’t, it doesn’t fucking matter. Denis Villeneuve has made a sci-fi classic here. This shit ranks right up there with Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Oddessey in that its stylistic approach will inspire sci-fi fans for generations. I do not say this lightly. The costumes, the effects, the grand scope of visual perspective is on another fucking level from anything you have seen in your life. I can’t see it on IMAX or I might die. It’s that good. As a sci-fi addict, this film gave me serious chills, like freezing at absolute zero, Kelvin. “Please dear God, someone let me inside.” Thank the universe there is a part 2 already in the making. This is only the beginning.
I love you all,
Be Bad. Be Punk. Be Black.
(FB: Drew Constantine, Insta: catchconstantine)
Dune is in theatres and streaming on HBO Max right now. Watch this shit or you’re not cool. Not like Pluto. Peace.
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