By Joanna Langfield

One of the reasons I appreciate Denis Villeneuve’s take on this science fiction classic might be one of the reasons that would drive science fiction fans crazy. Because as lush as this film looks, its script is also measured, dialogue controlled. You won’t find those lengthy and impeccably detailed narratives that some relish, but make my brain fog. Because this Dune has a lot to say, and makes sure it is accessible to all who are open to it.

Never fear: there are many breathtaking visuals strategically placed in this tad too lengthy story of Paul, a young man whose intuitive understanding of his universe is as precarious as it is revealing. There are the expected good guys and bad guys, but almost all are softened enough to make them more interesting than they might be in lesser directorial and acting hands. And the messages (yes, there are messages) drawn from Frank Herbert’s original 1965 novel are perhaps even more pungent now than they were in the prescient two part publication. Because we’re not just dealing with saving humanity here, we’re dealing with saving the precious resources of the planet.

The seemingly ubiquitous Timothee Chalamet stars as young Paul and is ably supported with nice turns from Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin and particularly Oscar Issac, who makes his, let’s face it, robber baron, a man of complexity. But in this first chapter it’s the relationship between mother and son that fuels the storyline and Rebecca Ferguson brings just enough quiet energy to engage us in not just her child’s, but her own battle. We’ll see another terrific young actress, Zendaya, step up in chapter two, a sequel which might be years in the making. I’ll wait.