InSession Film - JD Duran’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ve seen the “M” word being thrown around a lot for DUNE, and look, I very much understand it. Personally, though, I can’t quite call it that since it’s clearly an unfinished product narratively, but like FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, it’s about as masterful as a Part 1 can get. When coupled with Part 2, it very well could be Villeneuve’s best work to date. Which is saying something as I still maintain that ARRIVAL is a masterpiece and one of the most thematically rich, emotionally enthralling sci-fi films ever made. And I do think DUNE (PART 1) is very much in that same territory. At the very least, it’s without question one of the best films of the year.
And don’t get me wrong, while narratively there’s a somewhat abrupt conclusion, I do think it ends on the right note. There’s a clear transition taking place. So like FELLOWSHIP, we know there’s much more to come, but thematically the film does seem to be fully realized given Paul’s journey thus far.
And I know some audiences feel reserved about the film’s pacing, but I love how methodical and character driven it is. A deliberate pace is very much okay with me when there’s purpose to it, and that is the case with DUNE imo. It doesn’t hurt when Denis’ direction is this immersive. I mean, talk about a transportive experience. Everything about the film’s world building is excellent. It’s not overbearing and visually it’s stunning. And the sound design…my goodness is it remarkable. On its own it’s great, but even more visceral when tethered to Hans Zimmer’s Oscar-worthy score.
A lot to love about DUNE. Denis continues to impress and I cannot wait to see Part 2.