“Dune: Part Two” arrives as new messiah of modern science fiction

Frank Herbert’s notoriously unadaptable novel “Dune” finally gets the adaptation it deserves. With powerful visuals and breathtaking performances it is hard to find any flaws in the brilliance of “Dune: Part Two”.
Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) and Chani (Zendaya) share an intimate moment on the dunes of Arrakis (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures).
Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) and Chani (Zendaya) share an intimate moment on the dunes of Arrakis (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures).

 

 

Nearly 3 years after the abrupt and controversial ending its predecessor left behind, audiences are sent back to Arrakis in the widely anticipated “Dune: Part Two” on March 1.

“Dune: Part Two” is a film co-written and directed by sci-fi auteur Denis Villeneuve, who famously directed “Blade Runner 2049”.  The previous film, “Dune” (2021) notably only adapted the first half of Frank Herbert’s nearly 700 page sci-fi epic of the same name, which left many viewers displeased with its sudden ending. The sequel, however, completes Herbert’s novel, successfully managing to adapt the often considered “unadaptable” source material.

Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) and Paul Atredies (Timothee Chalamet) engage in a climactic knife duel (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures).

Initially expected to release on November 3, 2023, the film was delayed due to the lack of studio compromise and the uncertainty of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes that occurred in Hollywood this past year. 

“Dune: Part Two” is a complex, revenge-driven sequel with no consideration for mercy. The film is massive, intense, and mesmerizing. It also solidifies itself as one of director Denis Villeneuve’s best films.

Despite its colossal 167 minute runtime, “Dune: Part Two” is an absolute must watch for anyone with the time to spare. With an outstanding story-line, exceptional direction from Denis Villeneuve, and fierce performances from its superstar cast, nothing can pull audiences away from the world of Arrakis, not even a bathroom break.

Coming from one of the finest works of science fiction, “Dune: Part Two” boasts a story as vicious and harsh as it is heartfelt and powerful. Each individual character is driven by countless motives throughout the film, seeking different aspirations. In the midst of it all? The spices of Arrakis.

Whereas the first film dragged in pacing from a greater focus in establishing the world and lore of Herbert’s novel, this follow-up dives straight into its high-stakes and vengeful plot, continuing where the story halted in theaters nearly 3 years ago. Paul Atreides’ story in “Dune: Part Two” creates a struggle, where he must choose between his own desires, maintaining his image of Lisan al-Gaib, the messiah of the Fremen (native people of Arrakis), and the cold decisions he deems necessary in his path to power. All of these reasons are a stark contrast and subversion from the “hero’s journey” story trope implied from the predecessor. 

It is through these complexities and moral ambiguities that truly distinguish “Dune” apart from many mainstream sci-fi franchises. Unlike “Star Wars”, the romance between the main characters actually feels natural and real.

Villeneuve’s visionary mind is able to effectively bring Herbert’s ambitious vision to life in this sequel. The various, otherworldly planets the film sets itself in are astonishingly convincing, with no sight of awkward, uncanny visual effects to be found.

There is a moment in the film when Feyd-Rautha, who is played by Austin Butler, is introduced on Giedi Prime, the home planet of the rival faction the Harkonnen. The planet also happens to have a black sun, and when the scene moves outside into the planet’s natural lighting, the film’s color washes away, and smoothly transitions to a chilling, black and white look, perfectly capturing the cold, menacing nature of the Harkonnen.

Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) lurks in the dark shadows under the black sun of Giedi Prime (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures).

And it is spectacles like Giedi Prime where Villeneuve, frankly, excels at his craft, with gorgeous long shots captured on IMAX cameras. From the dunes of Arrakis, to the colorless planet of Giedi Prime, audiences are certain to be immersed into this universe Villeneuve presents.

“Dune: Part Two” features a star studded cast of well known Hollywood actors that bring some of their strongest work they have put onto the screen. Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and many others showcase compelling performances strapped with the dynamic range suited to bring out the complexities of their characters. 

Christopher Walken, known for his distinct voice and idiosyncratic pattern of speech, somehow nails the role of the Emperor perfectly. In every scene Walken is in, he carries a strong screen presence that amplifies the severity of situations many characters find themselves in.

The true standout performance of this film, however, comes from Austin Butler, who ditches his iconic Elvis voice to deliver an Oscar-worthy performance as the sociopathic Feyd-Rautha. Butler’s voice, appearance, and physicality contribute to his unrecognizable embodiment of an alien sadist. Despite his limited runtime, every scene he is in will have audiences clutching their seats, intimidated by his menacing presence.

“Dune: Part Two” is a rare, otherworldly experience that demands audiences to witness its full might on the largest screen possible. The film’s complex plot, visionary direction, and powerful performances is sure to keep viewers gripped into its world. Audiences will be left craving for more, as “Dune: Part Two” establishes itself as not just a fantastic work of science fiction, but the best film franchise since Peter Jackson’s adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings”. 

 

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  • Mr. AielloMar 19, 2024 at 10:48 am

    An excellent synopsis. I agree 100%. Best movie I’ve seen in years.