SPIDERHEAD (2022)

June 16, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. “We are changing the world!” These days, those words tend to be more chilling than hopeful. More cautionary than exciting. Spoken a few times by scientist Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth), those words have long ago lost the intended impact with his assistant Mark (Mark Paguio).

Steve is the warden of a high-tech experimental prison where the convicts have agreed to participate in drug studies in exchange for a relaxed/comfortable environment and the hope of early release. In fact, these folks are guinea pigs for mind-altering drugs controlled through a surgically attached mechanism on their lower back. We recognize that Steve is smart because he wears wire-rimmed glasses, and we recognize his villainous intent because of his smarmy nature and impossible to trust false charm.

Much of the focus here is on Jeff (the very talented Miles Teller) who is serving time due to his responsibility in a tragic car accident. Steve tests each of the drugs on Jeff, and each test requires Jeff to “acknowledge” his consent … as if it’s his choice to see what happens with the next round of mind-bending. The drugs have hilariously descriptive names: “Verbaluce” forces one to speak their mind, “Phobica” causes paranoia and fear, “Laffodil” generates uncontrollable laughter, and “Luvactin” … well, you get the idea.

Beyond the drugs, Jeff finds a soulmate in Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett) and ultimately, Steve pits the two against each other in order to elevate the drug testing and human behavior to extreme levels. The film carries a science fiction label, but mind-altering drugs are as much a part of the past and present as they are the future. Any promise shown in the early stages of the film have long evaporated by the insipid final act that pits Jeff and Lizzy against Steve and the other convicts.

The basis for the film is a George Saunders short story originally published in The New Yorker entitled, “Escape from Spiderhead”. It has been adapted for the screen by DEADPOOL and ZOMBIELAND co-writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Unfortunately, the wit and cleverness of those two films is never flashed here … except for the use of Thomas Dolby’s song, “She Blinded Me with Science.” Other late 70’s and 80’s songs provide only cringing, as they weren’t even that enjoyable at their peak. The director of this film, Joseph Kosinski, is riding high right now with his “other” film currently setting box office records. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: TOP GUN: MAVERICK. It’s unusual for a director to have two films out simultaneously, but the pandemic has caused quite a few oddities. I will “acknowledge” that the execution of this story is quite disappointing.

Releases globally on Netflix beginning June 17, 2022

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CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (2022)

June 2, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. So, what happens when society evolves to the point that pain barely exists? Well, of course, people will then desire pain for pleasure and will go to extremes to experience the new forbidden bruised fruit. Anyone familiar with filmmaker David Cronenberg’s 40+ year career is already anticipating ‘what else’ the master of ‘body horror’ and twisted provocations will add to the proceedings. And the answer is … plenty.

Viggo Mortensen stars as Saul Tenser, and Lea Seydoux co-stars as Caprice, his performance art partner with benefits (such as they may be). If you’ve ever wondered what a second career for a trauma surgeon might look like, well Caprice’s role in the live shows is to first tattoo and then remove the newest organ that Saul’s body has generated – all while the appreciative audience looks on as if Picasso were painting or Edith Piaf were singing. Wait, what? His body grows new organs? Yes, Cronenberg has set this in a future where a segment of the population has an evolved digestive system and mutations, pain has been mostly eradicated, and Saul’s body grows new organs that may or may not have a legitimate function – they’re never left in the body long enough to find out because it’s Show time!

An opening sequence features a young boy’s inexplicable action, which leads his mother to an unfathomable next step. We are clearly in a (not so bright) future and Cronenberg delivers his first crime. That boy is linked to one of the many sub-plots in the film, though it’s Saul and Caprice who are at the center of most. A secretive government agency is responsible for registering all new organs, and it’s run by Wippet (Don McKellar) and Timlin (Kristen Stewart). Wippet worships Saul as an icon, while Timlin takes it a step further by whispering in Saul’s ear, “Surgery is the new sex.” Stewart plays polar opposite to her usual subtle on-camera style, delivering a humorous take on a curious, bird-like creature with tics and a lack of social graces.

Outstanding supporting work comes from Scott Speedman, Welket Bungue, Tanaya Beatty, and Nadia Litz. I’ll say little else about these characters or their story lines, because this film works best as you uncover each layer for yourself. A general description of the film would be what happens when anatomy and art collide with science-fiction. One can easily draw connective dotted lines between this Cronenberg film and many of his earlier ones. It has the bizarre sensuality of CRASH (1996), a nod to THE FLY (1986), common ground with EXISTENZ (1999), a line from DEAD RINGERS (1988), and social commentary in line from both VIDEODROME (1983) and SCANNERS (1981). This is Viggo Mortensen’s fifth collaboration with Cronenberg, but surely the first where he’s said, “I’m not very good at old sex.”

Carol Spier’s signature Production Design plays a significant part in the film, and best I can tell, she has worked on each of Cronenberg’s films since 1981. The two Canadians make a good team. It’s been 8 years since Cronenberg’s last film, and the 79-year-old filmmaker is already in pre-production for his next. The Inner Beauty Pageant and Accelerated Evolution Syndrome are elements within this film, and as you would expect, he delivers visual effects that will stick with you. That said, nothing is over the top, and if anything, the cult filmmaker is on pretty good behavior, though he fully expects “walk outs” within the first few minutes. While I’m not sure the twist is even a twist, this is vintage Cronenberg offering no apologies while choosing to leave us with yet more of his provocations … “don’t spill”.

Opens in theaters on June 3, 2022

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LINOLEUM (SXSW 2022)

March 21, 2022

SXSW 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. For those of us who spend entirely too many hours of our life watching movies, it’s always a welcome pleasure to stumble upon one that is creative and innovative and entertaining. The first feature film from writer-director Colin West is all that, plus it’s funny and touching and features some science. As an added bonus, it features the always great Jim Gaffigan in a dual starring role.

Mr. Gaffigan stars as Cameron, a middle-aged guy who writes, acts, and films an educational children’s science show for Public Access TV titled, “Above and Beyond”. Imagine a blend of Carl Sagan and Bill Nye the Science Guy. It’s a show he and his wife Erin (Rhea Seehorn, “Better Call Saul”) started together, but now she works at the local Air & Space Museum as the two await the finalization of their divorce.

Cameron has been waiting patiently for a preferred time slot, and one day his producer delivers news that’s both good and bad. The show is being picked up for distribution, but they have hired a new host. In what is anything but the oddest thing to happen so far in the story, Cameron can’t help but notice how much he and the new host look alike – although the personality differences are startling. It turns out the new guy bought the house right across the street from Cameron and Erin, and new guy has a teenage son, Marc (Gabriel Rush), who awkwardly befriends their daughter Nora (Katelyn Nacon).

When a satellite crashes in his yard, Cameron seizes the opportunity to become the astronaut he always dreamt of being by attempting to re-build the tangled mess into a custom rocket ship. Obviously I have left out many details in an effort to avoid spoilers for a story that is at times surreal, and can be best enjoyed going in cold. Other familiar faces appearing briefly in supporting roles include Tony Shalhoub, Amy Hargreaves, and Michael Ian Black. We have seen parallel universe films before, but filmmaker Colin West treats us to something a bit different. It may seem like a low-key affair, but “it’s not that simple.”

Narrative Feature Competition Category – SXSW


THE ADAM PROJECT (2022)

March 10, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. At a certain age, most of us have given some thought to what we might say to our younger self if we had the opportunity to go back in time. The familiar phrase goes, “Hindsight is 20/20”, but what if we had foresight? What if we knew the best choices to make, and the bad decisions to avoid? Director Shawn Levy (the “Night at the Museum” franchise) reunites with his FREE GUY (2021) actor, Ryan Reynolds, to bring us a crowd-pleasing time travel movie with a personal twist. The script was co-written by Jonathan Tropper (“Banshee” creator), TS Nowlin (“The Maze Runner” franchise), and Jennifer Flackett (“Big Mouth”).

Twelve-year-old Adam (Walker Scobell in his first film) is the kind of wisecracking kid that attracts bullies at school. He lives with his mother (Jennifer Garner), and they are both still mourning his dad who died in a car crash. Ms. Garner is saddled with the film’s most obvious line when she lectures young Adam, “… the future is coming sooner than you think.” When adolescent Adam stumbles on an injured astronaut in the garage, it takes a while before he figures out that it’s actually his own self from the future (2050 vs 2022). When you have a wisecracking 12-year-old, it’s only perfect casting to have wisecracking master Ryan Reynolds play the older version. Despite some early friction, or maybe because of it, the two enjoy playing off each other with snappy one-liners and comebacks.

As with most time travel stories, things get a bit complicated, and the only solution involves taking a bigger risk and adding more complications. Not to give anything away, but the two Adams are forced to make a joint time-jump to find dear old dad, Professor Louis Reed (Mark Ruffalo). The purpose is not to save dad’s life, but for other personal reasons that involve Zoe Saldana as Laura, and Catherine Keener (miscast as the villain) as Maya, Professor Reed’s not so ethical business partner. It’s this section that offers the most action and tension, although the film is best delivering for the audience when the wisecracks are flying between Reynolds, Ruffalo, and Scobell).

Director Levy has constructed a charming film that proves quite entertaining for mainstream audiences, and he adds little touches like a family dog named Hawking, and classic rock from Led Zeppelin, Spencer Davis Group, Boston, and Pete Townsend. He even avoids the temptation to add a line of dialogue, “Hey Dad, wanna have a catch?” Outside of one sequence, the special effects are minimal considering it’s a time travel movie, and at its heart, it’s a story about coming to grips with family and who you are as a person.

Available on Netflix beginning March 11, 2022

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I’M YOUR MAN (2021, Germany)

February 9, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. The thing about humans is that we are always looking towards the future to see how we can make things easier, better, or more exciting. This is often with an eye towards more fuel-efficient cars, smaller and more powerful computers, and more effective medical treatments. Writer-director Maria Schrader and co-writer Jan Schomburg have adapted the short story from Emma Braslavsky and turn the lens to relationships and love. Is it possible to advance inter-personal relations to the point of perfection? Would that even be desirable or preferable to the messiness that’s gone on since the beginning of time?

It’s actually the film’s premise that impresses most. Maren Eggert stars as Alma, an Anthropologist who has dedicated years of her life to leading a team documenting the earliest human use of poetry. Alma is a serious and determined woman, and one who bears the scars of a recent breakup. She’s drawn into an extraordinary experiment that blends high-tech with sociology. Advanced robots have been developed to become the “perfect” mate, and are programmed specifically for one person. Alma has agreed to the three-week trial, and her robot is Tom (played well by Dan Stevens, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, 2017).

Their initial interactions are quite awkward as Alma is skeptical and Tom is programmed to constantly and quickly learn and evolve based on Alma’s reactions. Despite Alma’s hope for companionship and recognition of her own biological clock, she seems to catch herself anytime she begins to feel a bit of joy. She never imagined that her pursuit of happiness would be dependent on advanced robotics. To monitor the progress, the program’s director, played by Sandra Huller (TONI ERDMANN, 2016) periodically checks in. And yes, she holds her own secrets.

This is a clever film that delves a bit deeper into human emotions than we originally anticipate. It also contains quite a bit of humor – the initial dance club introductions are pretty funny, as is Tom’s facial expression each time he’s tweaking his algorithms. We do learn flirting is “difficult to program”, although in today’s society, that’s a treacherous path anyway. Of course, Alma slowly comes around to the idea of an artificial relationship – one that by definition can never be real. The film is not at the level of EX MACHINA (2014), although it’s less about technological advances and more about self-realization. Ms. Schrader’s film is plenty entertaining to watch and one that slyly points out many flaws of us human beings, while delivering an unexpected ending.

Available for streaming on multiple platforms

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THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS (2021)

December 21, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. One could view being number four in a trilogy as similar to being the ‘third wheel’ on a date. Or one could view it as a new beginning, with a familiar foundation. Your way of viewing will likely depend on whether you choose the red pill or the blue one. This time out, it’s only writer-director Lana Wachowski, without her sister Lilly. Their groundbreaking first film in the series hit screens in 1999, and it’s been 18 years since the last. Lana co-wrote this script with David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon.

There is a stunning opening action sequence that is so well done, most will feel like it alone is worth the price of a ticket. But it’s another of the early scenes that really caught my attention and had me laugh out loud and applaud the audacity. Keanu Reeves stars (again) as Thomas Anderson, a renowned game developer best known for his award-winning games (actually a trilogy) ‘The Matrix’ from 20 years ago. His work on a new game called ‘Binary’ is interrupted when he’s summoned to the office of his boss played by Jonathan Groff. Anderson is informed that Warner Brothers, their corporate owner, is not interested in his new game, but instead demands another game in ‘The Matrix’ series. This is either self-parody or Lana’s passive-aggressive revenge, either of which is a bit humorous.

Anderson regularly battles the blurring lines of reality and sees a psychiatrist (Neil Patrick Harris) who prescribes blue (of course) pills to help the patient deal with daily life. There is no way I’m going into the story lines that are tossed around here, but there will be fans who are happy and fans who aren’t. In fact, this one teases with so many elements that are left hanging, we aren’t sure whether Lana is setting the stage for more to come or merely having fun stirring the pot.

What does matter is that Neo and Trinity get the shot at a legitimate relationship/romance. The return of Carrie-Ann Moss is treated with all due respect. She shows off her acting skills, which, let’s face it, are far superior to the lead actor here. Together they make an interesting couple and we pull for things to work out. Jada Pinkett Smith returns as Niobe, and some new characters are introduced as well. In addition to Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris, the most intriguing of these is Jessica Henwick as Bugs (like Bunny). The newly imagined Morpheus is played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas scores a couple of scenes as Sati. Oh, and the answer is a definitive yes – we do miss Hugo Weaving and Laurence Fishburne (despite some of Lana’s creativity).

Neo and Trinity and special effects are the real draw for the series, and though this one is littered with self-parody, one of the most disappointing elements comes in the fight scenes which fall short of expectations. While I enjoyed the multiple story lines, even the partial bits, it’s the big finale action sequence that had me convinced the shark had officially been jumped. It’s drawn out far too long and repetitive at times, and with the 2 and a half hour run time, you have earned the right to question “The One”.

Opening in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22, 2021

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SWAN SONG (2021)

December 17, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. In a cinematic oddity, this is my second SWAN SONG film to review this year. The first was a SXSW starring vehicle for Udo Kier, and now we have the first feature film from writer-director Benjamin Cleary, who won an Oscar for his 2015 short film STUTTERER. It’s safe to say the two ‘Swan Songs’ share no similarities other than their title. Cleary presents a sci-fi drama that applies moral and ethical questions to advanced medical science, and our inherent desire to protect loved ones.

Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (MOONLIGHT, 2016) stars as Cameron, a graphic design artist recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. Rather than disclose this to his wife Poppy (Naomie Harris, MOONLIGHT) and young son Cory (Dax Rey), Cameron opts for an alternative course of action offered by Dr. Jo Scott (8 time Oscar nominee Glenn Close). It’s an extreme and risky solution to a horrible situation, and Cameron’s only motivation is to shield his family from the pain and grief his death would cause.

Dr. Scott, working with Dalton (Adam Beach), a psychologist, has concocted not just a cloning process right down to a person’s DNA, but also the transfer of memories and subconscious memory storage into said clone. The idea is that loved ones never realize they’ve lost a loved one. Is this morally justifiable? Is it ethical? Is this deceit the right thing to do even if it spares the pain of loss?  As Cameron goes through the process (and meets the new him), we see much of his life in flashback form, and get a feel for the love in his marriage, as well as the struggles incurred. While at the center … a stunning modern facility buried deep in the picturesque forest … Cameron meets another ‘client’ played by Awkwafina (CRAZY RICH ASIANS, 2018), who steers him through the process and the (at times) stifling emotions.

Mr. Ali and Ms. Harris are terrific in their scenes together, and it helps us understand why Cameron agrees to do this for her. Director Cleary never backs away from Cameron’s conflicted thoughts – probably the same most would have – and we comprehend why he’s tortured. However, the film never tackles some of the big picture questions and issues raised by such a proposal. The film is certain to spur plenty of thought and debate. It’s a nice-looking film with strong sound design and terrific performances … leading up to your decision: what would you do?

Available in theaters and on AppleTV+ beginning December 17, 2021

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THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES (2021, animated)

December 11, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. What would happen if human survival depended on the Griswolds (from the VACATION movies) battling the rogue robots programmed to take over the planet? Filmmakers Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe answer to that scenario is hyper-active, frenetic, overly-busy visual chaos that attempts to blend apocalyptic science fiction, extreme action sequences, and dysfunctional family comedy-drama. It’s a lot to tackle, and for the most part, it works.

Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) is preparing to head to film school. Her nature-loving dad, Rick (Danny McBride) is concerned about how he and Katie have drifted apart over the years, and he’s also worried that her educational choice could lead to disappointment. Katie’s mom, Linda (Maya Rudolph) is mostly supportive and upbeat, and yet a bit saddened that the once close father-daughter duo no longer speak the same language. Youngest son Aaron (voiced by co-director Rianda) and family dog Monchi have their moments, and mostly this is a fairly typical dysfunctional family. In fact, dysfunctional family seems to be a misnomer since it describes most families, even the highly organized one that seemingly have their act together … represented here by the Poseys (Chrissy Teigen and John Legend).

Katie’s generation’s adoption and dependency on technology has widened the gap in connection with the previous generation … specifically the bond between father and daughter that was so strong when she was young, and now barely hangs on by thread. Dad is the generation of the supreme screwdriver, while Katie is all about creating memes and videos. He fixes things, while she creates things. Dad decides a family road trip to drop Katie at college is the solution to fixing the frayed relationship. This happens on the same day that mega-Tech guru Mark Bowman (Eric Andre) is introducing his next-gen PAL robot, which is smart technology on steroids. However, it turns out, software has feelings too, and the original PAL (Olivia Colman) seeks revenge for being replaced. An army of robots is sent to capture the entire human race.

A couple of quirky things leave the Mitchell family as our final hope against the robots, and as you might expect, saving the world can lead to reparations in the father-daughter relationship. Dad gains an appreciation for the creative skills of Katie, while she learns of his great personal sacrifice for family. It’s an unusual blend of two distinct stories, but mostly we are left exhausted after a nearly two hour run time. The screen is often cluttered and overloaded with distractions (including old school Furbys with a twist), and although there is a cool throwback look to some of the animation, it’s simply too much of a good thing. Younger kids may be mesmerized by the frantic action, but the story lines are not likely to be followed by most under 10 or so. This one has garnered a great deal of Oscar buzz, which makes sense as adults decide such things.

Streaming on Netflix

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GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (2021)

November 18, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. There is a reason musical acts like The Eagles, Jimmy Buffet, and The Rolling Stones continue to pack arenas. We love our nostalgia and prefer it familiar and easily recognizable. The fans don’t show up to hear the new songs, but rather those ‘oldies-but-goodies’ that bring back pleasant memories. Writer-director Jason Reitman and co-writer Gil Kenan fully understand this psychology as they deliver what amounts to a sequel of the original GHOSTBUSTERS movie released 37 years ago (and directed by Reitman’s father Ivan).

The hook in this updated version is that Callie (Carrie Coon), the adult daughter of original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler (originally portrayed by the late Harold Ramis), has been evicted from her apartment. She packs up the car and her two kids, and heads to the dilapidated farm house she inherited from the father she never knew. Callie has lived her life bitter and hurt that her father never reached out, choosing instead to isolate himself in Summerville in the “middle of nowhere”. Her kids are Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), an awkward teenager, and Phoebe (a stellar McKenna Grace), a science whiz who seems to be a near-clone of the grandfather she never met.

As they adjust to a new life, Trevor swoons over local girl Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), while Phoebe befriends another outcast self-named Podcast (Logan Kim), and Callie gets closer to Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), a Seismologist “teaching” summer school with help from some age-inappropriate movies on VHS. As great as Coon and Rudd are (and both are great), the real fun comes from the youngsters exploring grandfather’s workshop and the mysterious mountain at the edge of town, which is actually a long ago abandoned mine run by the town’s founder.

Supporting actors include Bokeem Woodbine, JK Simmons, and Tracy Letts. Many of the elements will seem familiar as the kids begin to uncover the ghostly creatures unlocked thanks to Grandpa Egon’s research and tools. As with the original, busting the ghosts is fun, but it’s the one-liners and crackling dialogue that make this a joyous ride from beginning to end. A battered Ectomobile (Ecto-1) plays a key role, as do ghost traps, crossing streams, and a new generation of Stay-Puft Marshmallows.

Jason Reitman is a two-time Oscar nominee for UP IN THE AIR (2009) and JUNO (2007), but it seems clear his mission here was to provide a fitting tribute to the original film, his father, and the late Harold Ramis. He’s assisted along the way with some special effects and even more special appearances, though the missing Rick Moranis is notable (and expected). The original blockbuster spawned sequels, re-boots, toys, an animated series, video games, documentaries, and now … another sequel (one that mostly disregards everything but the original). There is a Spielberg feel as the scene is small town instead of NYC, and perhaps with this family-friendly focus on the kids, the best comparison might be THE GOONIES. It’s nostalgic, yet new and fresh, and we do get a look at Hook and Ladder #8, and the familiar tune of Ray Parker Jr’s iconic theme song. Hang on for the mid-credit and post-credit scenes, and just remember to take this for what it is … a rollicking good time.

Opening in theaters on November 19, 2021

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DUNE (2021)

October 21, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. It’s been nearly 40 years since David Lynch directed DUNE (1984). The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound, and has since been a cult favorite, though not one I’m particularly drawn to. All these years later, Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel (there are 5 sequel novels) has been re-made by acclaimed writer-director Denis Villeneuve (ARRIVAL, 2016) and his co-writers Eric Roth (Oscar winner, FORREST GUMP, 1994) and Joe Spaihts (PROMETHEUS, 2012). The new version looks absolutely fantastic, even if the story is a bit convoluted and the characters don’t always make the best, or even logical, decisions.

The year is 10191, likely the most futuristic movie we’ve seen. Oscar Isaac is Duke Letto Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson is Lady Jessica Atreides, though the story mostly focuses on the son, Paul, played by Timothy Chalamet. The story revolves around the protection of spice, the most valuable resource in the universe/galaxy. However the real focus is on politics and power plays … so I guess not much really changes over the next 8170 years – except, of course, the colonization and travel between multiple planets (surprisingly, none of these planets is named Elon or Bezos). There is much talk of “the plan” with emphasis on whether young Paul is “the one” mentioned in their legends. Paul does have some special abilities, but Chalamet’s understated (and mostly monotone) portrayal makes everyone, even Lady Jessica, a bit unsure of whether he’s the leader they need.

The supporting cast is impressive and all do their part to drive the action and story forward. Jason Mamoa is Duncan Idaho, the warrior who humorously belittles Paul’s fragile physical frame. Josh Brolin is Gurney Halleck, the bodyguard to the noble family, and Charlotte Rampling plays the Reverend Mother (a creepy nun). Oscar winner Javier Bardem is under-utilized as Stilgar, while Zendaya shines as Chani, one who bonds with Paul. Of course the most outrageous role finds Stellan Skarsgard (with some heavy make-up and special effects) as the grand emperor of Harkonnen, with Dave Bautista as his brother, the Beast.

For me, the movie’s technical aspects are what stand out. It deserves awards consideration in multiple categories, especially Sound, Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Score. Oscar winner Hans Zimmer really delivers a score that compliments and enhances what we see on screen. Cinematographer Greig Fraser has been involved in numerous high profile projects, like ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016) and the highly anticipated THE BATMAN (coming in 2022).  The effects are special and include the sandworms, as well as dragonfly choppers that are quite impressive. It was a bit annoying to see the desert sand blowing constantly, yet goggles and masks are hardly ever used. I guess these faces are too expensive to cover up!

Familiarity abounds as some bits recall MAD MAX, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, STAR WARS, and THE MATRIX. Director Villeneuve shot the film in Norway and Jordan, and to answer the question from fans of the original … no, Sting does not make a cameo appearance. The film looks stunning and will likely satisfy the target audience. Whether it’s enough to expand the audience is something we will know soon enough. The film ends with “This is only the beginning”, and Mr. Villeneuve has Dune Part Two in the planning stages.

The film will be released October 22, 2021 in theaters, on IMAX, and streaming on HBO Max

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