We watched about 15 minutes of Dune, and it looks pretty amazing

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Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya as Paul Atreides and Chani in Dune. (Photo: Warner Bros)
Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya as Paul Atreides and Chani in Dune. (Photo: Warner Bros)

SINGAPORE — A second trailer has been released for director Denis Villeneuve's new film adaptation of Dune, the first novel in Frank Herbert's epic science fiction saga. Its release date for Singapore and Malaysia is 14 October 2021 – meaning we'll get to watch it one week before its 22 Oct release in America. The movie is slated for a 13 Oct release in the Philippines, subject to theatres being allowed to open amid the Covid lockdown there.

Here's the new trailer, and might we say, it looks epic:

Over and above the trailer release, Warner Bros. also held a media preview yesterday where the first 10 minutes of Dune were screened, as well as a roughly five-minute sequence that appears to be the first appearance by a sandworm in the movie. 

The footage shown to the press at the special IMAX screening isn't being released to the public, but we'll share our impressions of what we saw. The rest of this article contains spoilers for Dune.

The movie starts off with a montage with a voice-over by Zendaya's Fremen character, Chani, introducing the planet Arrakis, what the planet's precious resource "spice" is, and who the Fremens are – a tribe of desert-dwelling people who have made their home on Arrakis, and often come into violent conflict with Imperial agents who have colonised the planet in order to harvest spice.

The spice, also called "melange" in Herbert's novels, is a substance produced by the sandworms, gigantic creatures that live beneath the sands of the desert planet Arrakis. When consumed, spice has narcotic properties that are crucial for space travel, allowing navigators to guide ships through warp space.

Spice, the most valuable substance in the Dune universe. (Photo: Warner Bros)
Spice, the most valuable substance in the Dune universe. (Photo: Warner Bros)

As such, Arrakis and the management of spice harvesting on the planet have become the locus of an interstellar politico-economic conflict. Within the first 10 minutes of Dune that we saw, the Imperial court appoints the noble house of Atreides to take over the administration of the planet's spice operations. From the novel, we know that the former stewards of Arrakis were House Harkonnen, an enemy of House Atreides.

In the sequence following the voice-over intro, we first see Timothée Chalamet aka Paul Atreides, heir of House Atreides, waking from a dream in which he has a vision of a female member of the Fremens, who is recognisable as Chani. Paul is puzzled by these visions that he's been getting, which is understandable, since at this point, he still has not set foot on Arrakis. (Chalamet is shirtless in bed – yum – what a way to start the movie!)

Then we see Paul interact with his mother Lady Jessica, who was played by Rebecca Ferguson. Both actors are magnetic as usual in this scene.

Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac as Lady Jessica and Leto Atreides in Dune. (Photo: Warner Bros)
Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac as Lady Jessica and Leto Atreides in Dune. (Photo: Warner Bros)

Paul and Jessica are having breakfast. Jessica asks Paul to practise using "the Voice", which is apparently some sort of power which allows one to control the actions of other people. Paul isn't very good at using this power yet – he orders Jessica to give him a cup of water, but only succeeds in making her place the cup of water halfway between them on the table. In the novel, the Voice is used by members of the Bene Gesserit, an all-women pseudo-religious organisation, of which Jessica Atreides is a member.

Next, we see House Atreides assembling to receive their orders from an Imperial delegation, who arrive in an impressive huge egg-shaped spacecraft. The elaborate formal costumes worn by the characters in this scene look pretty amazing, from the members of House Atreides to the Imperial courtiers.

Oscar Isaac plays the leader of House Atreides, Duke Leto Atreides. He accepts his appointment as overseer of Arrakis by stamping his seal on a legal document.

And that concludes the first 10 minutes of Dune.

We're shown another scene with a bit more action, featuring a team learning about the spice harvesting operation on Arrakis. The spice is depicted as sparkling dust particles in the sand, being gathered up by a huge spice harvester machine.

This scene features Oscar Isaac, Timothée Chalamet and Josh Brolin flying over the desert in a cool-looking aircraft which is designed with wings that mimic a dragonfly's four wings – an interesting interpretation of the ornithopters from the book.

Paul runs from a sandworm in Dune. (Photo: Warner Bros)
Paul runs from a sandworm in Dune. (Photo: Warner Bros)

Trouble brews when an especially large sandworm approaches the harvester. A rescue ship for the crew of the harvester malfunctions, and the dragonfly-ships have to go in to extract the crew. In the process, Paul, landing on the surface of the desert, with spice particles flying in the air around him, breathes in the spice, and he goes into a trance and collapses. He comes to just in time to escape before the sandworm emerges and swallows the spice harvester whole. The thing has a lot of teeth in its gaping mouth, let me tell you.

In director Villeneuve's introduction to this scene, he said it was about Paul feeling like he has been to this place before. Mysterious.

The press were also shown a Q&A with composer Hans Zimmer, in which he explained that he had designed the music of Dune so that they did not sound like they were made by normal human instruments. (You can hear some of Zimmer's score in the trailer.)

"Whenever I saw a movie about empires far, far away, other planets, etc., I always heard trumpets and French horns and cellos playing," Zimmer said, "and I'm thinking, Wow, there are all these amazing civilizations in different galaxies, places, and in different times, and they have the same instruments as we do!" The composer said his goal had been to try and "invent our own instruments".

From the preview that we saw, we're really excited to watch Dune when it comes out!

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