‘Dune’ captures the book’s epic scale while telling only half of the story

It’s a completely rational technique offered the scope of the product (which likewise generated a 2000 miniseries), however however a crucial disclaimer, because anybody seeing what’s identified as “Part One” need to comprehend that total fulfillment needs dedicating to Sequel, even if the studio, Warner Bros. (like CNN, part of WarnerMedia), hasn’t rather taken that action yet.

As is, Villeneuve (whose credits include “Blade Runner 2049” and “Arrival”) enlists a high-voltage cast to bring to life Frank Herbert’s tale of warring houses, and the emergence of young Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) as the messianic heir to a “great destiny.”

The budding battle pits House Atreides against the merciless forces of the Harkonnen, overseen by the grotesque Baron (Stellan Skarsgard), for control of Arakis and its precious spice, the key to space travel.

Paul comes along on the mission with his father the Duke (Oscar Isaac) and mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), who has bequeathed him another birthright that will figure heavily in his future. Yet the fate of Arakis runs through its grizzled inhabitants the Fremen, who have suffered under Harkonnen rule and are understandably wary of outsiders.

Working from an adaptation he wrote with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth, Villeneuve has gotten an enormous amount right, from the casting to the epic scale, including the absurdly giant worms that churn beneath the surface and occasionally erupt in spectacular fashion.

Timothée Chalamet stars in director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of 'Dune.'
Still, much of the movie is devoted to Paul’s dawning abilities and visions, including those involving a member of the Fremen (Zendaya, whose role is largely limited thus far to those gauzy images).

On the plus side, Chalamet records Paul’s gradual awakening, and there’s a clarity to the warring factions, geopolitics and betrayals that the earlier movie generally lacked. While Lynch’s vision was state of the art for its time, the visual effects also reflect how far we’ve come in the intervening decades.

Yet while it’s perhaps unavoidable upon committing to tell the story in its full flavor, it rankles to sit through a 155-minute movie that at times feels like the extended coming attraction for a more muscular sequel, to arrive who knows when.

Simply put, it’s a gamble essentially presenting a limited series narrative in a package that — even with a streaming option — cries out for a bigger screen than the one in your living room. (For his part, Villeneuve wrote an oped for Variety passionately arguing for the movie’s theatrical consumption.)

Zendaya is the most obvious casualty of that frontloading in terms of her limited role, but other members of the cast — which also includes Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin and Dave Bautista among those with superhero (or villain) credentials — receive modest screen time thanks to the sprawling nature of the story.

“Arakis has seen men like you come and go,” Stilgar (Javier Bardem), the Fremen leader, pointedly tells the Duke when they meet.

Plenty of franchises like “Dune” have come and gone too. “Part One” represents an admirable effort to do the product justice, and its release comes as a few movies delayed into October have actually shown appealing life at package workplace.

That stated, its future feels as hazy as Paul’s visions. And it would not be the very first pricey production imbued with a remarkable tradition that end up being lost to the sands of time.

“Dune” premieres Oct. 22 in United States theaters and on HBO Max. It’s being launched by Warner Bros., like CNN, a unit of WarnerMedia.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.