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New Dune Trailer Looks (Mostly) Promising

Timothée Chalamet in Dune (2020) (IMDb/Warner Bros.)

For more than a year, the prospect of a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic Dune has tantalized me. I have known of its existence for longer, of course, and watched excitedly as an impressive crew has assembled both in front of and behind the camera: Jessica Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, and others in key roles; Denis Villneueve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) as director, Hans Zimmer as composer.

Dune was supposed to come out last December. Alas, shortly after the release of the first trailer last September, we learned that the film would be delayed until October of this year — more than a full year. And last December, it emerged that Warner Bros. would release Dune (and other movies) simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Villeneuve, who claims to have created the film for the large canvas of the theater, responded angrily to this decision. Finally, a few weeks ago, the movie’s release was moved from early October to October 22.

So it’s been a long path, and not quite a Golden one, for Dune. But as far as I know, it will still be possible to see it in a theater on that day, and I plan on it. And today, we got a new trailer:

As a Dune fan, I will go into this movie not expecting to be surprised by the story, which I know quite well. The mysteries for me are not what will happen, but how will it be portrayed: how the actors do in their roles; what the effects and score are like; and how faithful the adaptation is. That’s what I’m looking for when I watch these trailers. And on that front, this one looks fairly promising. The visuals look leagues more advanced than those of the beleaguered 1984 adaptation, and the acting pedigree can’t be beat; even this short glimpse showed that. It also provided our first extended look at Stellan Skarsgård as the villainous Baron Harkonnen, shown floating above the ground for reasons that should be clear to Dune fans.

If there’s anything I’m worried about, it’s Paul Atreides, the main character. He will be portrayed by Timothée Chalamet, a waifish actor known mostly for moody, if well-received, indie roles up to this point. What I’ve seen so far leaves me skeptical of his ability to convey the nuances of Paul as a character. Particularly given the second thing about Paul I’m worried about: The movie seems to be presenting him as a straightforward hero. Without giving too much away, it’s worth saying that this is not exactly what Paul is. I hope Chalamet and the screenplay can capture this. I look forward to finding out.

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