On Monday morning, Warner Bros did something cool. Journalists all over North America were invited to a special presentation of Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE, with the general idea being that we would see the new trailer, which comes out tomorrow and indeed is quite impressive. But, instead, there were cheers in the IMAX auditorium when it was revealed that we’d be watching the first ten minutes of the movie, as well as an extended action scene from later in the film – all optimized to the IMAX format.
First thing’s first – if ever a movie was meant for the big screen, Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert‘s Dune is it. While the film is still scheduled for a simultaneous HBO Max release on October 22nd, anyone who wants to experience what Villeneuve is pouring his heart and soul into needs to see this on the big screen and an IMAX screen if at all possible. The movie now carries the official, on-screen title, Dune: Part 1, and indeed if we want to see a Part 2 made, we need to get out and support it in theaters.
At any rate, here’s a rundown of the footage – although, of course, there are some SPOILERS for the first ten minutes. Still with me? Good!
So the movie starts with a prologue on Arrakis narrated by Zendaya’s Chani. First, she gives us a brief history of the Harkonnen family’s tyrannical rule and their war with the Fremen. Next, we see some brief glimpses of action in the full IMAX ratio before segueing to Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) having a vision of Chani in his sleep. We learn he’s been having dreams for months. At the same time, his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), continues his training in the Bene Gesserit technique “The Voice,” which is conveyed excitingly through a combination of silence and bass.
We then learn Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) is being sent to Arrakis with his family to take over from the Harkonnens. We see Leto, with Isaac having tons of gravitas, as well as Josh Brolin’s Gurney Halleck, the Leto family’s badass protector. We also get a glimpse of Thufir Hawat (Stephen McKinley Henderson) before the footage wraps up. From there, we saw the trailer that comes out tomorrow, which introduces us to Jason Momoa’s badass-looking Duncan Idaho, along with a taste of the footage we saw and some really cool action beats.
We then got a look at an extended action sequence from later in the first act, when Duke Leto and his son rescue spice miners. In the David Lynch film, this was a pretty brief moment, but here it’s a massive IMAX-shot action sequence, which gives us the full effect of Greig Fraser’s fantastic photography and Hans Zimmer‘s pounding score. A note on the score, in a brief interview featurette Zimmer mentioned wanting to stay away from traditional instruments as he tried to evoke the sounds of another world, meaning lots of percussion and vocals. The score, in many ways, sounds like something he intends to be his Magnum Opus and potentially a new classic for the venerable composer.
So there you have it. A few observations: Chalamet is going to be amazing as Paul. I’ve long been a fan of his (I suggest watching The King on Netflix if you haven’t already), but his charisma here is off the charts. He reminded me of a young Tom Cruise, and if this is a hit, I could see it elevating him to global superstardom. Isaac also looks cool as Leto, while Ferguson has a lot of gravitas as Lady Jessica. That said, I fully expect key scenes to be stolen by Brolin’s Gurney and, especially, Momoa’s Duncan, who’s heavily featured in the teaser. Zendaya also looks excellent as Chani, even if, given that this only covers half of the book, her role will be limited. We also only get quick looks at Javier Bardem’s Stilgar, but similar to Chani, I expect he will have a more prominent role in the sequel.
We also haven’t seen much of the Harkonnens yet, with only brief glimpses of Stellan Skarsgård’s Baron and Dave Bautista’s terrifying Glossu Rabban. However, I fully expect the entire cast to be exquisite.
Overall, I can’t tell you how excited I am for Dune, especially after seeing this footage in IMAX. Hopefully, the film is a massive hit upon its October 22nd release date, but I also must admit that I hope WB abandons the idea of bowing it simultaneously on HBO Max. Imagine if The Dark Knight had shown up on HBO the same day it opened in theaters. This looks like it will be a full-on masterpiece, so hopefully, it gets the exclusive theatrical run it deserves.