Go watch Dune in theaters

Dennis Villaneueve’s new film is a triumph and demands to be seen on the big screen


Dune played at the movie theater in Lexington this week. Photo by Lilah Kimble, ’23.

Connor McNamara

“Dune” possesses a quality rare in movies today: patience. The film runs over two and a half hours long, but compared to modern action movies, it feels relatively light on plot. That’s because where a Marvel movie packs in exposition and action until the climax, “Dune” sprawls. Director Dennis Villeneuve lingers with the camera, never afraid to give the audience a half second more to absorb a scene. Nearly every frame could be hung as a poster. This is a movie which demands to be seen on the big screen. 

Equally as impressive as the sweeping visuals is Hans Zimmer’s score. Booming offbeats punctuate dramatic shots, and eerie choral sustains hang with the audience throughout the film. Hans Zimmer went all out for “Dune”, inventing new instruments and using novel ones – like an especially prominent bagpipe – to create the needed sounds. The result is a movie which sounds totally alien compared to anything Hollywood usually produces. 

Every member of the star-studded cast also does a fantastic job throughout. Timotheé Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica present appropriately excellent performances as the two lead characters. Stellan Skarsgård as the Baron and Dave Bautista as his nephew Rabban are delightfully villainous. Baustista especially embodies his character’s nickname “Beast”, and although he gets little screen time, he was very fun to watch. The rest of House Atreides – Oscar Isaac as the Duke, Jason Mamoa as Duncan Idaho, and Josh Brolin as Gurney Hallick – are cast perfectly according to character and give great performances. And even though she only appears as a real character for a few minutes, Zendaya as Chani captures every shot she’s in – I look forward to her expanded role in the sequel. 

But “Dune” is not without certain flaws. It is patient, and therefore it is long. The main criticism in reviews tends to be that it leans towards boring. While I disagree and found the action scenes included more than dramatic enough to keep me engaged, the same may not be said for all viewers. “Dune” is slow; this is both a blessing and a curse. 

But perhaps more troubling to new fans is the refusal of Villaneuve to hold the audience’s hands. There is little exposition in “Dune”, and characters and terms are not explained most of the time. For those who have read the book, this makes it an exceptional companion to a dense novel. But to a first-time viewer, it could come off as somewhat opaque. 

Nonetheless, I think Villeneuve has done a fantastic job adapting the source material. The flaws are more than outweighed by fantastic visuals, score, and cast. It is rare we get a big budget Hollywood movie this gorgeous, and “Dune” deserves to be watched simply for the sake of seeing it. 

Watch “Dune” in theaters. It is a movie made for the big screen and is undoubtedly worth your time.