Dune Cert: 12A, 2hrs 35mins
The French Dispatch Cert: 15, 1hr 48mins
The Harder They Fall Cert: 15, 2hrs 10mins
Dear Evan Hansen Cert: 12A, 2hrs 17mins
An hour into Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited new version of Dune, I was confidently dusting down my fourth star and just beginning to wonder whether a fifth might yet be in order.
After all, it looks fantastic, Frank Herbert’s sprawling science-fiction novel makes reasonable sense and, best of all, the Harkonnens – one of the two families battling for control of the desert planet Arrakis – are no longer plump, red-haired figures of gravity-defying fun, as they were in David Lynch’s unhappy 1984 production.
This time they’re really quite scary.
Dune, starring Josh Brolin and Oscar Isaac (above), looks fantastic, Frank Herbert’s sprawling science-fiction novel makes reasonable sense
But somewhere in the long closing 90 minutes (be warned: this is a very long film) that fourth star slipped slowly away, at least for anyone like me who dips happily in and out of the sci-fi genre rather than being a dedicated devotee.
Would it be the House Atreides – represented by the young heir apparent Paul, played by Timothée Chalamet – or the predatory Harkonnens who end up controlling Arrakis’s reserves of ‘spice’, the hallucinogen that somehow also makes interstellar travel possible?
I found I didn’t care quite enough, despite the extravagantly made-up Stellan Skarsgård channelling a lot of Marlon Brando into his performance as Baron Harkonnen. Oh, the horror, the horror.
Would it be the House Atreides or the predatory Harkonnens who end up controlling Arrakis’s reserves of ‘spice’? Zendaya (above) stars
So what goes wrong? With Herbert’s influential novel predating the first Star Wars film by a dozen years, Villeneuve plays up the comparisons, clearly out to establish that Dune got there first.
Nevertheless, as Rebecca Ferguson and Chalamet, playing mother and son despite being only 12 years apart in real life, rush around Arrakis dodging dreaded sandworms and searching for the indigenous Fremen people, there’s a sense of having seen too much of this sort of thing before.
And with Dune 2 probably still to come (depending how this one goes down), a lack of resolution doesn’t exactly send you out into the street with a spring in your step either.
Some of my closest friends love Wes Anderson films, but hard as I’ve tried, and The Grand Budapest Hotel apart, I’ve never quite seen the appeal. They’re too arch and mannered, over-reliant on that strange deadpan acting that Anderson loves so much and that Bill Murray – an Anderson regular – has down to an underplayed T.
He’s here again in The French Dispatch, playing the soon-to-be-dead editor of a Kansas newspaper supplement that has, for decades, celebrated all things French. It’s episodic in structure, with a cast fairly dripping with stars, and each heavily narrated segment plays out as a series of beautifully composed tableaux.
They sadly just don’t add up to very much.
Bill Murray’s here again in The French Dispatch with Frances McDormand (above), playing the soon-to-be-dead editor of a Kansas newspaper supplement
Ethnically speaking, the great American western has historically been an oh-so-white affair as far as main characters are concerned. Well, The Harder They Fall (also on Netflix from November 3) is the western that starts putting that right with a black ensemble cast, led by Jonathan Majors and Idris Elba, playing the goodies, the baddies and everything in between.
With a pumping reggae soundtrack it’s a bit mannered too… but in a good way.
Dear Evan Hansen is one of those films where you go in aware that it’s the movie of a Broadway musical, yet it still comes as a surprise when Ben Platt starts to sing. With a contrived-feeling plot involving a US high school, mental fragility and one very big lie, it certainly won’t be for everyone but does just about get there in the end.