Dune: Part Two Film Review

Dune Part Two Review 
Dune Part Two Review 
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You can feel that Denis Villeneuve has been experiencing Spice-fueled hallucinations for his entire life. The director has always spoken about how reading Frank Herbert’s Dune in his childhood days opened his mind. Thus, it is a sort of a personal challenge to bring the book’s sci-fi mix of warring houses, psychedelic dreams, anti-colonial themes, and intergalactic conflict into movies. And again, in Dune Part Two, what one sees seems like all those images that Herbert implanted in Villeneuve’s brain are being ripped directly from neurons to celluloid.

This being the case, Part Two happening at all amounts to something of a miracle. A sequel was not guaranteed but the filmmaker bet on making a two-part adaptation of the book – and so we had an amazing first part (a “merely” set up by the director himself) during the Covid-19 crisis. However, as promised, Part Two is the war epic: a more massive, brawnier section with lesser world-building but more twisted knots in its narrative.

It picks up almost immediately after End Points Redux (though this time around Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan serves mostly as an introductory narrator) with Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his pregnant mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) becoming part of Fremen who are native people of Arrakis which is both arid and barren. After Paul flees from Harkonnens’ savage attack on House Atreides. A process initiated by Emperor Shaddam IV who eventually turns out to be disappointingly well-behaved Christopher Walken. He seeks revenge against everyone who has done him wrong or caused misery to him.

Some Fremen such as their leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem) feel that Paul might be ‘Lisan al-Gaib,’ their religious prophet. However, its prophecies were intentionally planted by the Bene Gesserit, space-witch meddlers (and one of them is Paul’s mother Jessica). Although his Spice-visions give him glimpses of futures in which embracing his manufactured messianic ‘destiny’ leads to eternal violence, with rivers and rivers of blood. Meanwhile, Paul falls for Fremen warrior Chani (who gets more screen time here than her brief appearance in Part One). And which relationship becomes even more complex because… well, all of the above.

In summary, there are many plates spinning – mostly under Villeneuve’s remarkable control. Besides this, he uses stunning sequences that will send you flying onto your seat: a thrilling opening attack from levitating Harkonnen warriors, a breathless rocket-launch mission with Paul and Chani shooting down enemy ornithopters, an awe-inspiring first sandworm ride for Paul that is a huge shock to the senses and ears as its thunderous bass turns any regular cinema into a 4DX seat-shaking experience.

It would be remiss not to mention how Austin Butler steals the show among the newbies: his hairless Feyd-Rautha who is everything opposite to Paul. Thus since it looks like Arrakis has been overdone somewhat, his stark arena battle on another planet where every frame has been rendered monochrome under a black sun leeching all color from the sky and causing Rorschach blotches to explode all over it comes as fresh air.

If Part One was not clear enough. Then this is Middle-earthian in scope and Nolan-esque in the way it depicts drama. At times, part two is almost too epic. The film is colossal and although Villeneuve injects much character work (Paul’s naming ceremony. The most sand-based flirting in space opera since another famous Episode II). There comes a point where continuous immensity takes charge. It achieves a terminal velocity of grandiosity, a critical massiveness — and just keeps going. Despite being split into two films, there’s still plenty to cover with mysterious plot points that even Villeneuve himself has difficulty taming. The character throughlines have to come to terms with central figures who become less and less human as the tale advances due to plot mechanics. Those not deeply steeped in the Water Of Life may find themselves struck down by ‘epic fatigue’ by the time they reach the credits.

That does not mean that story ends here though… Part Two concludes Herbert’s first book but yet again doesn’t signal an ending for Villeneuve’s adaptation. If this mooted Part Three – adapting sequel novel Dune Messiah – happens. Then it will be no mere appendix but a proper trilogy closer. Consequently, this can only be considered an intermission piece leading towards more loose ends.

It feels like grumbling when considering what awesome feats are on display here—audacity from Villeneuve as usual. Eye-popping cinematography from Greig Fraser once again, fresh Hans Zimmer jams (a dark inversion of Paul’s theme. A booming anthem for Feyd-Rautha), and even psychic fetuses! And yes, Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) plays one short Baliset banger (“His stillsuit is full of piss…”). It may leave you feeling somewhat sandblasted by its climax – but ultimately remains an astounding exhibition of desert power.

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