I read Dune many years ago as a teenager and, then, I think I read it again. It’s a nailed-on sci-fi classic and was instantly one of my favourite books. The whole mythology of the fremen, the blue eyes, the spice, the worms… It was so good I remember immediately setting out to read the sequels and not getting very far. I also recollect it is a familiar response. The books get very crazy very quickly. Yet Dune’s influence never diminished. There was a surprisingly decent (for such a well-known flop) movie version by David Lynch and an absolutely brilliant game (and sequel) by Westwood Studios. Then there were rumours of other versions being made or, at least, all the concept art being drawn.
I was ready, then, for today’s new trailer, even if I had doubts about the director.
Denis Villeneuve keeps making films that I should really like more than I do. Arrival annoyed me for reasons I can’t at this moment remember. It might have been all the annoying playing around the with timeline. I just know I finished it scowling and thinking it missed a huge opportunity to be the kind of alien first contact movie I really love. Then he made the Blade Runner sequel, which left me thinking he’s missed the chance to make the kind of cyberpunk movie I really love. Both were films I could admire but not films I could scribble on my list of “best movies”.
So now he’s made Dune and having watched the trailer, I already feel underwhelmed.
It’s not that he hasn’t captured the atmosphere of the book but, really, I wish films would cast other people in them.
Timothée Chalamet is almost a given in any film that needs a pretty young boy to appeal to the ladies. But, oh, I thought, isn’t that Dave Bautista playing another bald heavy, and, hey, isn’t it Zendaya, the actress/model/internet sensation from the Spiderman movies? And Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Stellan Skarsgård who all seem to be in everything. Then there’s Jason Momoa, who played Flipperman or whatever the hell his name was in that DC movie. I’m not even mentioning Oscar Isaac (recently of the Star Wars movies). The only surprise was that the woman behind the veil was Charlotte Rampling when I’d assumed it was Cate Blanchett because… well, isn’t it always Cate Blanchett?
I know it’s a mire gripe and shouldn’t matter but having seen so many of these in the big franchises, it makes Dune feel like it too is the start of another franchise and I really hoped for better. I might be wrong. I might love this movie. I’m just not building up my hopes. I feel like I’ve been here before…