Director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is set to come out this October. That’s still a bit away, but Warner Bros. and IMAX gave me and few lucky others a sneak peek of the new science fiction epic based on Frank Herbert’s famed novel. That peek included the first 10 minutes of the film, one other scene that involved sandworms and spice (is it really Dune without those?), and behind-the-scenes footage and commentary from the cast and filmmakers.
So what’d I think of it? Seeing part of Dune on the big screen made my mask-covered jaw drop. It’s a spectacle, an epic and immersive experience that shook my bones. Read on for a detailed reaction to 35 minutes of IMAX Dune-ness.
Warner Bros. kept the details of what we’d see pretty vague before the screening. And so when it started out with some standard behind-the-scenes fare with the star-filled cast — Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, David Dastmalchian, and Josh Brolin, to name just a few — I found it fun but not too exciting.
My biggest takeaway from this part, other than thinking Jason Momoa looks weird without a beard, was everyone saying how much Villeneuve is obsessed with Dune. This, again, wasn’t surprising. What was delightfully surprising, however, is that we then we got to see the first 10 minutes of Villeneuve’s obsession.
Dune’s First 10 Minutes
The 10 minutes open with a title card that read, “DUNE: PART ONE.” We knew that the movie only covered the first half of Frank Herbert’s book, but that “Part One,” gives hope that another part is inevitably coming (whether that happens, however, at least in part depends on how Part One performs at the box office).
And then the movie starts, and we get the most beautiful exposition I’ve ever seen. Zendaya’s character, Chani, sets up the stakes — her desert planet, Arrakis, is full of “spice,” the material necessary for interstellar travel. The Empire covets that spice, of course, and extracts it without a care for Chani’s people, the Fremen. She and her people are fighting back, and the imagery of them doing so with sand whiplashing around them is stunning.
The first 10 minutes have small moments too — we see Paul Atreides (Chalamet) and his mom (Rebecca Ferguson) have a nice heart-to-heart that involves Paul practicing the mind-control ways of the Voice (just go with it, non-Dune readers).
The most memorable moment, however, is a scene that’s also highlighted in the latest trailer. House Atreides (Isaac, Chalamet and Brolin) meet delegates from the Empire. The imagery here, again, is epic in scale. The ship, Atreides’ soldiers, the costumes. (Jacqueline West‘s costuming for Dune should get all of the awards.) Everything about it made me feel like I was in that world, a place familiar yet alien, a place shocking in its brutalist imagery.
That alienness is not only brought home by the landscape and the costuming, but by the score. The IMAX event also shared a tête-à-tête between Villeneuve and composer Hans Zimmer. The two talk about their love of Dune and how they approached creating the music of the film. You won’t hear a string quartet in the movie — the score is full of odd sounds that Zimmer reveals are human voices augmented to sound eerie and other-worldly.
Things Get Spicy on Arrakis
The second scene Warner Bros. showed us revealed Paul Atreides’ first time on Arrakis. The scale here is expansive — House Atreides is flying over a desert landscape in Dune’s equivalent of helicopters, and the noise from that, the score and the encroaching sandworm, echoed through my body.
I knew from the first trailer that the sandworms were huge. Seeing one on an IMAX screen, however, was terrifying. Their sheer scale makes dinosaurs look like puny wimps. And their many-needled mouths will haunt my nightmares for awhile.
The event ended with a trailer, which we’ll cover in another article. The one thing I’ll say here, however, is that it emphasizes the connection between Chalamet and Zendaya’s characters and gives us our first glimpse of Paul getting those Spice-y glowing blue eyes.
As someone who loves the Dune books, what I’ve seen makes me extremely excited to see the movie in its entirety on the big screen. I can only hope that those new to Dune will be just as blown away. If they make it to the theater, I think they will be.
Dune opens in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22, 2021.
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/Film – ‘Slash Film: We Saw 35 Minutes of ‘Dune’ Goodness in IMAX and It Looks Incredible’
Author: Vanessa Armstrong
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July 21, 2021