While the COVID-19 pandemic has largely gutted the release calendar for 2020, the planet has still reached a juncture of confidence and security from which the blockbusters we were promised for this year can be trotted out with a tentative caution.
Today, this proves fortuitous news for Timothée Chalamet superfans and devotees of sci-fi/fantasy alike, as the first trailer for Denis Villeneuve‘s adaptation of Dune arrives to announce that not even a global cataclysm can keep Hollywood from erecting its tentpoles.
Chalamet leads the film as space prince Paul Atreides, put in charge of the desert planet Arrakis, a forbidding land nonetheless tactically significant for its natural resources of the drug melange, or “spice,” which extends the lifespan and invigorates the mind and enables teleportation (referred to as “foldspace” travel). Viewers who enjoy gradually figuring out what regionalized slang and jargon actually mean will be in luck!
Paul’s father (Oscar Isaac) vacates the planet, leaving young Paul with mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), mentor Gurney (Josh Brolin), and loyal servant Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) for a momentous mission that will bring them into the Arrakis hinterlands, home of the indigenous people known as Fremen and Paul’s eventual love interest Chani (Zendaya). They will have to unite if there’s any hope of defeating the nefarious Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard) and his rabid flunky Glossu (Dave Bautista).
That’s a lot of ground for the trailer to cover in terms of plot, so the marketing team instead emphasizes the indelibility of images – ominous armies waiting in Riefenstahlian formation, the glisten of melange in the Arrakian sand, and of course, the mammoth sandworms for which the property is best known. The characters do a lot of somber staring against backgrounds of varying grey and orange, an aesthetic known to some as the “Villeneuve touch.”
But in terms of sheer blockbusting scale, the magnitude of which the forced closure of movie theaters effectively eradicated from this past summer, this feels like a welcome return. Tenet broke open the gates, and now the movies are free to be big once again.
Dune will come to US and UK cinemas on 18 December.
Published 9 Sep 2020
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