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TIFF Review: ‘Dune’ Lives Up to the Gravitas and the Grandeur of Frank Herbert’s Original Vision

October 19, 2021Ben MK

Adapting a beloved and critically acclaimed book series for the big screen is a creative endeavour fraught with danger. For while films like Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter franchise have won over generations of moviegoers around the world, others like The Golden Compass and the Divergent movies haven't fared nearly as well. Dune, however, holds a special place in the hearts of science fiction fans. And with his highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic tome, director Denis Villeneuve hopes to succeed where David Lynch failed.

Set in the year 10191, the story follows Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet). The son of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and his concubine, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), and the sole heir to the empire that is House Atreides, Paul has been having visions of a mysterious girl (Zendaya) on Arrakis, a desert world that is home to a race of people called the Fremen and a planet known for one thing — spice. A much sought-after compound capable of extending lives, improving health and powering interstellar travel, spice is the reason the ruthless Harkonnens have been oppressing the Fremen and decimating Arrakis, as they harvest the spice from deep beneath its sands. But when the galaxy's emperor appoints House Atreides as the new overlords of Arrakis, it sets into motion a plot by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) to end the Atreides bloodline once and for all.

Best described as Game of Thrones meets Star Wars, what follows amounts to only one half of Herbert's epic Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel. But make no mistake, the result is still every bit as jaw-dropping as the material that inspired it. Bolstered by an impressive cast that also includes the likes of Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista and Javier Bardem, this is Dune as it was meant to be seen. The only caveat is that you need to see it on the biggest screen possible to truly appreciate the gravitas and the grandeur of it all.

Dune screened under the Special Events programme at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival and is in theaters and on HBO Max October 22nd. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 35 min.

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