Sci-fi adventure. With Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac. Director: Denis Villeneuve.
In the future, space travel depends on a substance called spice, which is only found on the desert planet Arrakis, nicknamed Dune.
When the galactic emperor replaces the brutal House Harkonnen, who’ve been mining spice on Dune for 80 years, with the noble House Atreides, Duke Leto Atreides (Isaac) senses a trap but must comply. Leto, his concubine, Lady Jessica (Ferguson), and teen son, Paul (Chalamet), duly make their way to Dune.
Paul has been having troubling dreams about the indigenous people of Arrakis, who believe a messiah will free them from their oppressors.
Frank Herbert’s influential 1965 novel Dune was long deemed unfilmable due to its dense mythology and sprawling cast of characters.
So instead of trying to cram it all into one film, Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) adapts only the first half of the tome. This was a risky move, as Dune part 2 wasn’t confirmed at the outset (luckily the sequel has now been greenlit), and telling only half the story is both the film’s greatest strength and its biggest flaw.
Villeneuve takes his time setting the scene with magnificent vistas interspersed with revealing dialogue between the massive assortment of characters that deftly illustrates their roles and personalities while also feeding the audience information about how this universe works.
The problem is that the running time is consumed with elaborate world-building and a tragic twist but ends without any kind of resolution, which could leave viewers deeply dissatisfied. So, it’s best to keep in mind while watching that there’s more to come.
In the meantime, the film’s vast scope, eye-popping design, hypnotic score by Hans Zimmer and stellar cast – with Chalamet, Ferguson and Sharon Duncan-Brewster the standouts – should impress.
Sci-fi fans will probably love Villeneuve’s assured handling of all the disparate elements, while casual viewers might find the mysticism baffling and the pace glacial.
2021. 13V. 155 MIN. AT THE CINEMA. ALSO AVAILABLE ON GOOGLE PLAY AND APPLE TV+.
Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman ** 1/2
True-crime thriller. Following in Zac Efron’s footsteps in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019), another former teen heartthrob, Chad Michael Murray, tries to gain dramatic credibility by playing American serial killer Ted Bundy.
The movie dramatises one of the US’ biggest manhunts as it follows Bundy moving from state to state murdering numerous young women. But FBI agents Kathleen McChesney (Holland Roden) and Robert Ressler (Jake Hays), are hot on his trail.
Bundy’s final hunting ground is a female university residence where the students flirt with him and don’t recognise him as the notorious killer. Will the FBI make a breakthrough, or will more women lose their lives?
If you’re a fan of Murray in his hunky Cinderella Story and One Tree Hill guise, you might be shocked to see him transform into a cold-eyed killer. The actor is convincing but must battle a ridiculous moustache and poor makeup to get his performance across. Roden (Teen Wolf) also gives a strong portrayal that adds to the tension.
The movie shines a light on a part of the Bundy saga that’s not so well known but loses credibility by leaving out important details, and falls apart in the last 10 minutes.But if you have nerves of steel and find true crime interesting, you’ll want to add this to your watchlist.
– ABBY-GENE BISSOLATI
2021. 110 MIN. 16VL. AVAILABLE ON DSTV BOXOFFICE.
The Water Man ***
Fantasy adventure. Bookworm Gunner Boone (This Is Us’ Lonnie Chavis) and his parents move to a small town. His mom (Rosario Dawson), has leukaemia while his dad (David Oyelowo), is a soldier who’s often away for long periods.
While out exploring, Gunner hears the local legend of the Water Man, a supernatural figure who lives in the woods. When a girl named Jo (Amiah Miller) claims she knows where the Water Man lives, Gunner persuades her to travel with him into the forest to try to find the immortal in the hope he can save Gunner’s mom.
The film tackles difficult subjects that even adults sometimes find hard to discuss, but the two young leads give great performances, while Oyelowo – also making his directorial debut – is convincing as a man ashamed of his failures as a father.
But the script has weak spots, and the filmmakers can’t decide whether this is a horror film, fairytale or both.
Told from a child’s point of view and aimed at families, The Water Man should satisfy its target audience. But some scenes might upset very young viewers.
– LARA ATSON
2020. 93 MIN. PG V. AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX.
A: All ages D: Drugs H: Horror L: Language N: Nudity P: Prejudice PG: Parental guidance S: Sex V: Violence