SSometimes it takes the advancement of technology to bring iconic sci-fi and fantasy books to life in all their glory. Oscar-winning Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is a huge improvement over 1978’s Ralph Bakshi version, but how would the New Zealander have done if he had only had one rotoscope and a few pieces of rope to work rather than the laser-sharp CGI from Weta Digital?
Frank Herbert’s Dune seems destined to follow a similar path, if the first full trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s new adaptation of the iconic space fantasy is something to be done. The famous grim version of David Lynch from 1984 is known to have been disowned by its director (who fought with studio executives and was not definitively cut) and rejected by critics, but in hindsight. now that was always going to be a given challenge. the incipient nature of special effects at the time of its realization.
Villeneuve’s dark and fatal take, quite frankly, seems poised to consign Lynch’s sprawling dud to the trash of history. The current messiah of cine-futurism, courtesy of the Arrival tease and Blade Runner 2049, seems to have conjured up a read of Herbert’s masterpiece that will draw amazed gasps, déjà vu, and double takes from the part. unconditional fans of the books.
Timothée Chalamet (as a descendant of Maison Atreides Paul Atreides) looks like the charismatic and sexy keyboardist of a new half-famous’ 80s romantic band whose synthetic brilliance continues to resonate over the decades, while Charlotte Rampling (like Reverend Bene Gesserit Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam) is terribly bizarre in some sort of witchcraft – that odd covering face making her heavily hooded eyes even more striking than usual. But what are the engineers doing in Ridley Scott’s Alien prequels in the movie? Ah, these are the new Harkonnens, the evil and mushy inhabitants of the frightening desert planet of Arrakis, and the future enemies of young Paul. Life was certainly easier in the ’80s, when Lynch made a mark on the infamous clan by simply turning them red.
Naturally, Villeneuve hired Dave Bautista to play Glossu Rabban, the nephew of chief villain Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Specter star has become the go-to bully for these muscular bizarre roles. Baron Harkonnen himself, we only get to see a glimpse in the trailer, as surely he’s a shaven-headed Stellan Skarsgård emerging from a wicked-looking primitive gloop? Skarsgård will have to go if he is to reach the heights of the pustular ferocity achieved by Kenneth McMillan in the 1984 version – presumably heart plugs (never in the original books) came out this time around. Hopefully the foul smell of subconscious homophobia will accompany them.
Why is Jason Momoa’s Duncan Idaho played with such exuberant, scathing and warm cordiality? It’s as if Momoa still thought he represented Aquaman from the DC superhero movies – surely the Game of Thrones star wasn’t just transported to remind us of the similarities between the doomed Atreides clan of Dune and the popular fantasy saga of Starks of George RR Martin? What are you saying?
The Engineers-Harkonnens aren’t the only inclusions reminiscent of past space movies – the new sandworms that maraud the deserts of Arrakis now look like giant, moving Sarlaccs (from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in 1983 ). But then again, they look so much cooler than the Lynch iterations that it’s hard to get excited about a little monster design theft. The story is the same with the scene in which Paul argues with Josh Brolin’s House Atreides fencing master Gurney Halleck – suddenly the personal defensive shields worn by the two look like we imagined them in our dreams, rather than our 8-bit nightmares. Finally, Dune looks like the crazy, spooky world of novels, rather than a particularly weird episode of Doctor Who from the Tom Baker era.