“Dune” Trailer Review!

Like The Lord Of The Rings before it, Frank Herbert’s science-fiction epic Dune has long been considered “unfilmable”: too huge and complex to ever successfully translate to the big screen. But Peter Jackson achieved the impossible by bringing Tolkien’s masterpiece to life (and in turn, revolutionizing the fantasy genre in Hollywood), and it looks like director Denis Villeneuve will try to do the same for Dune, with a lot of help from his incredible cinematographer Greig Fraser and his all-star cast led by Timothée Chalamet.

Dune
indiewire.com

Chalamet has made a name for himself in the indie and arthouse scene, and is one of the actors whose name routinely pops up during awards season: but Dune will mark his biggest role to date, as he steps into the shoes of futuristic messiah Paul Atreides, royal scion of House Atreides and heir to the throne of Arrakis, a remote desert planet rich with the resource known as Spice: a dangerous but powerful drug that pretty much everybody in the galaxy wants to get their hands on, either to use it (Spice plays a part in spiritualistic rituals and even interstellar travel) or to control it (due to its rarity, Spice is also extremely expensive and can be heavily taxed when it’s not being smuggled illegally out of Arrakis). Although it’s been a while since I’ve read Dune (it’s probably one of the most inaccessible books ever written), I remember most of the major story beats: Paul, whose entire life is built around a series of prophecies, sets off into Arrakis’ rugged, inhospitable deserts to try and unite the planet’s indigenous people, the Fremen, against the forces of his family’s sworn enemies, the tyrannical Harkonnens, when the latter clan arrives with the intention of conquering Arrakis and winning control of the Spice. At some point, I suppose I’ll have to reread the book, but that’s the general concept: from there, it gets bigger and bigger until it becomes a cautionary tale about ecological disaster (an issue it tackles head-on and spectacularly) and religion (an issue it tackles boldly but with less success, due to its reliance on tropes regarding indigenous cultures).

For most people, the image that comes to mind when they think Dune (assuming they know about the book at all, which might be rarer now than it would be in 1965, when the novel became an instant cult classic) is that of the terrifying Sandworms, gargantuan beasts that roam beneath the deserts of Arrakis and are worshiped as divine beings by the native Fremen. Appropriately, the first trailer for Villeneuve’s Dune holds off on the reveal of the Sandworms until the very end, when one suddenly erupts from the sand and rises over Paul. I love the new design: it looks awe-inspiring but also frightening in the best way possible. I would have maybe liked it to be a little bigger, but it’s possible that, like an iceberg, more of it is concealed beneath the sand than is visible above the surface.

Dune
polygon.com

The trailer intersperses scenes of desert warfare and high-tech weaponry with beautiful shots of Arrakis’ deserts and the already radiant cast: from Rebecca Ferguson to Zendaya to Jason Momoa to Oscar Isaac (and Oscar Issac’s impressive beard, which I count as an entire supporting character), there’s not an unattractive person on this planet. And Greig Fraser, Villeneuve’s cinematographer, has captured it all in the very best lighting with hazy, orange and blue overtones (orange and blue is a color combo proven to attract attention, and it never fails to do just that). Fraser’s job is made a lot easier by the fact that, canonically, Spice turns human eyes a vivid shade of blue. Visually, this trailer is nothing short of stunning.

With regards to the story, it will be interesting to see whether or not Villeneuve has streamlined the book’s plot dramatically or fixed some of its major problems, particularly….well, the entire plot, which isn’t a white savior narrative in the usual sense, but still “has many of the same discomfiting hallmarks that we see replicated again and again”, to quote from a recent, brilliantly-written breakdown of the book’s dealings with issues of race, gender and sexuality. Getting into that issue would require talking about spoilers for the book, so I’m not going to get into that conversation here, but suffice it to say that the Fremen (who, remember, are based off an amalgamation of various Native American, Middle Eastern and African cultures) and their interactions with Paul Atreides veer dangerously close to white saviorism for reasons that are not only difficult to explain, but downright disturbing. That’s why I’m hoping there’s just as much focus on the diverse supporting cast as there is on Paul: the Fremen, in particular, but also Paul’s mother (the sorceress/concubine Lady Jessica), and his love interest (the desert warrior Chani). Surprisingly, the trailer doesn’t give much screentime to Jessica (despite her being a major character in the books), but Chani’s role does seem to have been expanded – the trailer even starts with her meeting Paul in one of his prophetic dreams and the two exchanging a heartfelt kiss, before later reuniting in real life. There’s still no word on whether the villainous Baron Harkonnen will be depicted as he is in the books, as a grotesque, homophobic caricature who preys on younger men, but I have to hope that’s not the case.

Dune
techcrunch.com

But while it’s still too early to tell how similar Villeneuve’s Dune is to Frank Herbert’s original novel, it’s not too early to guess that this movie will generate a lot of conversation heading into next year’s awards season, thanks to the out-of-this-world special effects, cinematography, production design, direction and cast. Hopefully it generates just as much money at the box-office, but that will depend on how successfully it has updated its controversial and complicated story. In a year like 2020 (or, in fact, in any year), the last thing we need is a white savior.

Trailer Rating: 9.5/10

“Fantastic Beasts 3” Release Date Announced!

"Fantastic Beasts 3" Release Date Announced! 1
theverge.com

It’s long been suspected that the next installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise wouldn’t be coming to the big screen for quite some time: not only was the previous Beasts film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, ravaged by critics and met with only a middling reaction at the box-office, but there was also debate about whether or not the franchise’ star Johnny Depp was fit to remain in his role as the Wizarding World’s greatest villain after his domestic abuse scandal began to heat up again. Ezra Miller had some scheduling troubles with his upcoming Flash movie. Meanwhile, the sci-fi epic Dune nabbed the November 2020 release date that had previously been rumored to belong to Fantastic Beasts 3, leading some to believe we would see the third film in early 2021.

Alas, it is not to be. Today, Warner Brothers released a statement confirming that, while they are “proud to be the cinematic home of the Wizarding World”, they’ve made the decision to push back the third film’s release date to November 12, 2021. Considering the epic cliffhanger that the previous film left off with, this is a hard blow to those of us who actually enjoyed Crimes of Grindelwald and are excited to see where this franchise could go. Author J.K Rowling has the script apparently ready to go, and filming will begin in the spring of 2020. Previously, actor Dan Fogler had reported that the third film would be bigger than the first two Beasts movies combined – probably an overstatement, but perhaps not impossible at this point: the official reason given for delaying Fantastic Beasts 3 is that it will “give the filmmakers time and space to allow their artistry to truly flourish”, which sounds pretty good, all things considered. Crimes of Grindelwald was rushed through its production and, as much as I loved the film, it certainly had major flaws: the characters felt only half-baked compared to how vibrant and unique they were in Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them; multiple plots and subplots branched out without solid resolutions; and, worst of all for Wizarding World fans, there were a number of peculiar and nagging retcons or continuity errors, none more infamous (or notorious) than the appearance of Professor Minerva McGonagall years before her established birthdate in the Harry Potter canon. More time to work on the film could have made it a worthier sequel to the first Fantastic Beasts installment, and might have made it more of a critical darling – or a box-office hit. As it was neither, it’s no surprise that the studio is taking steps to insure the franchise gets back on a smoother track: according to Rowling, there will be five films when all is said and done. If Fantastic Beasts 3 winds up in the same unfavorable position as its predecessor, we might never see 4 and 5.

Hopefully, having more time to perfect the script and edit out unnecessary filler material (did we really need to see Yusuf Kama’s eye-surgery, or Newt Scamander’s escapade with a Kelpie in Crimes of Grindelwald?), or unnecessary fan-services (looking at you, McGonagall, and you, Nicolas Flamel), will only benefit the final film. Even though we now have a much longer wait ahead of us, we can rest assured that what we get in the end could be that much better.

Fantastic Beasts 3

Spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, ahead!

 

Following Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, viewers were left with a myriad of unanswered questions. However, most of us took assurance in the fact that we would only have to wait two years for the next installment to figure out things like: how is Credence a Dumbledore? How is Minerva McGonagall alive years before her birth? How is it even humanly possible that Eddie Redmayne continues to get more and more adorable in the role of Newt Scamander?

However, our hopes were rudely shattered by the news, which broke in January, that production of Fantastic Beasts 3 had been pushed back to the fall of this year – it had been expected to start production in the summer. This was followed by the revelation that the release date rumored to be reserved for Fantastic Beasts 3, November 20th, 2020, had been given to the sci-fi epic Dune. Now we’ve been able to glean a few more details about why the production was delayed. In an interview with the LA Times, Warner Brothers chief executive Kevin Tsujihara revealed that he is aware that Crimes of Grindelwald was no critical darling, and that its box-office gross was not what he had hoped for: he suggested that this is being taken into consideration now, and that J.K Rowling is “working hard” on the script for Fantastic Beasts 3, which is interesting, since she finished writing it all the way back in December. Tsujihara also said that the third film will be better even than the first Fantastic Beasts movie, and that Rowling has “an incredible vision” of what the future installments in the series will be like. This is all very promising, especially when combined with Fantastic Beasts actor Dan Fogler’s statement that Fantastic Beasts 3 will be bigger than the first two movie combined. We can only hope that more news is on its way, and that we can get answers to our questions soon. But at the moment, it seems most likely that Fantastic Beasts 3 will be Apparating into theaters in 2021. That, of course, is small comfort for all of us fans who are dying to see what happens next to Newt & Co., but in my opinion the delay will actually be helpful: Crimes of Grindelwald, of course, was torn apart by critics and had only a moderate success at the box-office, so giving the production team more time to craft an excellent movie is not a bad idea, by any means. Continue reading “Fantastic Beasts 3”