Dune isn't quite the sensory feast of Blade Runner 2049, but Jason Momoa steals the film as a salt of the earth swordmaster – if only this sci-fi epic had more of his pizzaz

Film Review by Rafaela Sales Ross | 03 Sep 2021
  • Dune
Film title: Dune
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Charlotte Rampling
Release date: 22 Oct
Certificate: 12A

It is hard to be fully immersed in Dune when its title card boldly states “Part 1” and its final scene sees a wistful Chani (Zendaya) soulfully declare “This is only the beginning”, while longingly staring into the horizon – perhaps looking for the magnanimous pot of gold required to fund a sequel. Yet, there is still much to chew on in director Denis Villeneuve’s monumental epic sci-fi, adapted from the eponymous Frank Herbert book.

Dune lacks the spellbinding visuals of Villeneuve’s last foray into sci-fi, 2017’s neo-noir Blade Runner 2049, a sensory feast that commanded colours with the grace of a snake charmer. In this Roger Deakins-less venture – Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, Rogue One) is on cinematography duty here – colour is as rarely seen as the mighty worms that plague Arrakis, the desert world on which Herbert's story takes place. When both grace the screen, however, the crisp yellows of the sand crumbling to the power of the crawling creatures, it is as if Dune comes to life, leaning fully into what it could have been.

Out of the stellar ensemble cast led by the always charming Timothée Chalamet as Oedipean prophet Paul, the greatest surprise is Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, a salt of the earth swordmaster. With enough charisma to flood the arid lands of Arrakis, Momoa swiftly steals the coveted spotlight, split by a parade of big names that are granted very little time on screen. Unfortunately, nothing in Dune quite reaches the same level of pizzaz as Momoa, but – fear not – it is still a highly entertaining voyage.

Dune had its world premiere at Venice Film Festival, and is released in the UK 22 Oct by Warner Bros
Read more of our Venice coverage here