Three years after the phenomenal (and phenomenal-looking) Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve continues to prove he is a world-class world builder with a new spin on another ’80s cinematic sci-fi property, Dune.
At least that’s our immediate impression after viewing the film’s first trailer, a visually breathtaking tease that, like the French-Canadian filmmaker’s Oscar-winning 2017 thriller, combines stunning set pieces and action sequences.
Unlike 2049, which served as a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Dune is not a continuation of David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel, but the first of a planned two-part new vision.
The film stars Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name, Little Women) as Paul Atreides, the prescient heir of a noble family entrusted to protect “the spice” — the most treasured element in the galaxy, capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential — as they arrive on the dangerous desert planet Arrakis.
The meditative three-minute first look opens with a close-up of Chalamet, which certainly will not disappoint any member of the heartthrob’s growing fan army, before offering a sprawling look at the uniquely dusty universe Villeneuve and cinematographer Greig Fraser (Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty) have concocted, complete with expansive desert landscapes, intense sword-fighting, some impressive facial hair from Star Wars alum Oscar Isaac (as Paul’s pops, Leto) and visions of an angelic Zendaya, who plays Paul’s mysterious love interest, Chani, and who nearly shares a kiss with him in the trailer. It’s all set to a brooding score from Hans Zimmer.
Beyond the visual thrills, the trailer also reminds viewers just how stacked the cast is.
In addition to Chalamet, Isaac and Zendaya, there’s Rebecca Ferguson (Lady Jessica), Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck), Dave Bautista (Glossu Rabban), Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho), Javier Bardem (Stilgar), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Thufir Hawat), Charlotte Rampling (Gaius Helen Mohiam), David Dastmalchian (Piter De Vries) and Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Liet-Kynes).
Nearly the entire ensemble joined Villeneuve last month for a sneak peek at the trailer and lengthy virtual conversation hosted by late-night host and proud celebrity geek Stephen Colbert, which Yahoo Entertainment attended.
Villeneuve had high praise for his 24-year-old star, describing the way Chalamet “looks so young on camera” yet “has an old soul.”
Others used the opportunity to hype up their characters. “I’m basically the greatest fighter in the f****** world,” teased Momoa (Aquaman) of his House of Atreides swordmaster.
Much of the conversation, however, focused on the spectacle the master craftsman Villeneuve has brought to Herbert’s much-loved mythology.
“It’s operatic,” said Isaac. “It’s pure cinema.”
Dune opens 18 December.