With Arrival garnering 8 Academy Award nominations – aside from being the best film of 2016 – and Blade Runner 2049 on the horizon, director Denis Villeneuve is quickly becoming the go to filmmaker for daring and ambitious science fiction projects. Frank Herbert’s “Dune” is a cultural milestone of the genre. People have tried to bring it to the screen, most notably David Lynch’s 1984 disaster, but the source material is still waiting for its definitive film adaptation. Well, on January 31, Frank Herbert’s son, Brian, confirmed that Denis Villeneuve will be directing a reboot of Dune. This is perfect news. It isn’t much to go on since the film has yet to be developed and so much can happen between now and the film’s release date. But Denis Villeneuve directing Dune is reason enough to get excited for a number of reasons.
1. Dune Deserves A Proper Adaptation
Dune has a massive cult following. It’s one of the richest sci-fi novels ever written. Its characters are fully realized. Its concepts are inventive and intriguing. Its language creates an intricate world that is filled with such visual possibilities. It’s difficult to get right and certainly needs a filmmaker with imagination.
2. Denis Villeneuve Has Passion For The Project
Villeneuve has actually been quoted as saying directing Dune would be his dream project. This means that fans don’t have to worry about him changing the source material to fit his style. He is a fan and would treat the adaptation in the way a fan would want it to be treated. I know that the last time a filmmaker who was also a fan of the source material directed a film it was Duncan Jones’ abysmal Warcraft. But there is a difference here.
3. Denis Villeneuve Has The Necessary Skills For The Project
Unlike Duncan Jones, who only directed two small scale films with a couple of actors before being thrust into a $150 million blockbuster, Villeneuve has commanded large budgets. He’s also worked with ensemble casts and in varying genres of different scale. There is hardly a performance in any of his films that doesn’t rank as one of the best that actor/actress has ever done. Every film of his, from Enemy to Incendies to Maelstrom, feels large in scope, even if the story focuses on only a small set of characters. In terms of reception, Villeneuve has directed seven films (two of which are in my top 10 films of all time) and his average Rotten Tomatoes percentage is 86% and his average IMDB User Rating is 7.6. That is pretty impressive for any filmmaker.
4. Villeneuve Can Give Dune The Personal Touch It Needs To Balance Out Its Technical Wizardry
All of Villeneuve’s projects, whether it is embracing a surreal psycho-sexual world in Enemy to depicting a horrific tragedy in Polytechnique, are focused on genuinely heartfelt relationships between characters and their world. His films are personal journeys and that emotion is evident in every frame. Alejandro Jodorowsky did so much visual groundwork when he attempted to adapt Dune in the early 1970s. It is very likely that Villeneuve can match that visual style (of course he’s been given a lot to work with by those who came before him), but his personal touch will elevate the film to connect with those who aren’t fans of the novel.
5. Villeneuve Can Helm The Perfect Ensemble
Amy Adams. Hugh Jackman. Jake Gyllenhaal. Benecio Del Toro. Josh Brolin. Emily Blunt. Jon Bernthal. Viola Davis. Paul Dano. Melissa Leo. Terence Howard. These are just some of the big names that Villeneuve has worked with. Dune needs a huge cast of impeccable talent to work. And Villeneuve can pull from a large list as well as many who probably want to work with him. All in all, finding the perfect ensemble should not be a problem for this filmmaker as it would for someone else.
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