Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet's exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity's greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
There is something so authentic about Denis Villeneuve’s style, and it stays so consistent through every film. From a Sci-Fi epic to an intense Thriller, the sense of atmosphere that he is (somehow) able to capture with each and every project is impressive. With Dune, he brings that style to what has been thought of as “un-film-able” prior to this outing. Denis has pulled off the impossible, and he has brought us a Sci-Fi epic with depth, atmosphere, and style. It does require some patience at the beginning, as the film has to build up each character, relationship, and house they are a part of. We see numerous showcases of the power that each house has, but we understand that as grand as this world is, Paul will always remain the focus.
Chalamet plays Paul in the exact way he should. Many see his performance as a bit too on the subtle side, but it actually feels extremely reminiscent to the character I know from the novel. I am halfway through the book at the moment. I have actually made it a bit further through that than the film, but as a book-reader, it is impressive to see the job that Villeneuve has done. My biggest fear with the film was that it would not be accessible to the more general audience; the book has its own dictionary of words for crying out loud. Somehow, Villeneuve has done it with ease. These characters feel familiar (in a good way), and it is easy to get on board with their personalities, whether that be imposing or soft-spoken. Paul’s journey in this first film is one that we have seen before; the craft is enough to allow it to overcome this, but I never found the film to be as thought-provoking as I even anticipated.
What Dune does brings is an overwhelming sense of emotion due to the experience itself. The seats begin to shake with every sound effect, the operatic score will have your jaw on the floor, and the effects may just be amongst the best I have ever seen. I have never experienced anything quite like it because the film soars on every technical level. This is an achievement built to experience on the biggest and best screen possible. Beyond Paul, the rest of this stacked cast excels just as well. Jason Momoa as Duncan may even be my favorite character because his charisma is through the roof. Ferguson’s Jessica is probably the character with the second most time on screen, and she does an excellent job of building a fascinating dynamic with Chalamet’s Paul. Paul loves his mother, but there is a clear rift between them due to his gifts.
Story-wise, the film does an excellent job of going into detail on the importance of each character and fleshing out Paul’s visions. Once each element has been established, the film shifts into a more intense gear, and the action really begins to pick up. These “war” scenes are massive. You hear the roaring wave of battle, and you feel the overwhelming odds that a few of our characters are facing. As stated in the trailer, Skarsgard’s Baron is out for blood, and he provides one of the most imposing villains I have seen in while. His presence reminds me of Immortan Joe’s presence in Mad Max, as you just know he is capable of unspeakable things. While the film does feel a bit lengthy at points, and the purposeful incomplete feeling of it all does leave you wanting more as soon as possible, the overall impact is undeniable. I knew this would be my cup of tea, and I was not disappointed. Dune delivers in a big way, and I will hopefully be watching it again as soon as possible.