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The Greeley Voice

Dune: Part Two—A Strong but Confusing Sequel

Source: IMDb

Giant spaceships, lethal knife fights, and monster sandworms. Dune: Part Two lived up to the hype, almost.

In the year 10191, young Paul Atreides and his mother align themselves with the Fremin tribe of the desert planet Arrakis. Their goal is to defeat the evil Harkonnens and bring the Fremin to paradise. Along the way, Paul learns the ways of the desert, gains the Fremins’ trust, and discovers if he is truly the one spoken of in the Lisan Al Gaib prophecy—the messiah who will save the Fremin and bring great peace and prosperity to Arrakis.

Dune: Part 2 was released on March 1, 2024, as the sequel to the 2021 mega-hit, Dune. The two movies are adaptations of Frank Herbert’s Dune novel written in 1965. The 2021 movie serves as an introduction to the vast world of Dune, covering roughly two-thirds of Herbert’s original tale. The sequel revolves around the last portion of the story and kicks off directly where the first film left off. Part two is currently in theaters and will be released on Max and Prime Video for free at a future date.

Denis Villeneuve, who directed the first Dune in 2021, is also the director of Part 2. Actor Timothée Chalamet reprises his role as Paul Atreides, and actress Zendaya is back (with far more screen time) to portray Chani. We are also introduced to several new characters, most importantly Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha, Christopher Walken as Emperor Shaddam IV, and Florence Pugh as the emperor’s daughter, Princess Irluan.

Dune: Part 2 is a visual masterpiece. Every shot feels meaningful, not a single one is wasted. Cinematographer Greig Fraser crafts an incredible visual tale once again. Every shot of planet Arrakis, from the abnormal sunset to the terrifying sandworms, is breathtaking, and every action scene is so perfectly designed that it sends a chill down your spine.

Giedi Prime (fictional planet in Dune; home of Vladimir Harkonnen)

The movie takes place mainly on two planets, Arrakis and Giedi Prime (Harkonnen’s homeworld). The planets are drastically different from one another, and the movie brilliantly depicts this. Arrakis is dry, dull, and muted throughout the movie, creating that deserted wasteland feeling. Giedi Prime is portrayed as a greyscale planet to depict the evil, lifeless, and haunting personalities of the Harkonnens. The black-and-white scenes are spectacular and provide a unique and distinct aspect of the movie; they are loud and make you feel like you’re in a different world.

Besides just the cinematography, every performance in the star-studded cast is truly remarkable. A few performances stood out, including Timothée Chalamet as Paul, Rebeca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, and Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha. Both Chalamet and Ferguson had to elevate their performances as their characters underwent drastic changes since the first movie, and they both brought powerful emotions to the film. Newcomer Austin Butler—even in a limited role—nailed his performance and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win Best Supporting Actor at next year’s Oscars. Showing his commitment, Butler both physically and mentally transformed into Feyd-Rautha’s hairless and ruthless physique. Feyd-Rautha is designed as a psychotic and ruthless killer, and Butler pulls it off very convincingly. In our opinion, the movie would not be complete without Butler even though he’s introduced over halfway through the movie and is only in it for a couple of scenes.

Paul Atreides Played by Timothée Chalamet

Another draw of Dune: Part 2 is the stellar action. While the first movie was considered bland and drag by some, Part 2 picks up the pace, and exciting fight scenes intercut the scenes of prolonged dialogue with every kick or punch feeling natural. Furthermore, the Fremen and the Harkonnen have unique fighting styles, making the times they battle highly engaging. There is also a variety of action, ranging from full-scale war scenes to tight, tense knife fights.

At times, however, it feels like Director Villeneuve is trying too hard to lean on the action and ignores important plot details and context. For example, we are told that there is a divide between the Fremen over whether they believe that Paul is the messiah. However, the Fremen divide is never explored meaningfully besides in a few moments. It would’ve been compelling to go further into these conflicts and explore the Fremen’s lives. For another example, during many massive battles, the viewer only knows that both sides want to win and desire power over Arrakis. Furthermore, throughout the first part of the movie, Paul persistently refuses to go to the South of Arrakis, but then suddenly he decides to go at a later time. No context nor explanation is given regarding Paul’s unexpected decision. While the first film allows the reader to follow along with what is happening and know the underlying causes of events, the sequel brushes over the small details and requires you to fill in the blanks.

Similar to the first movie, the film also reaches the end of its run time without a true ending. A third movie, which will be adapted from Dune Messiah—the second book in author Herbert’s series—is confirmed. Therefore, the conclusion of Dune: Part Two is mainly a setup for Part Three and is purposely incomplete and unfinished as a strategy to gather excitement from audiences for Part Three. This leaves the ending feeling unsatisfying, with a lot more narrative to tell.

Despite some flaws, Dune: Part 2 is still an exceptional movie. While more exposition, plot details, and a complete ending would’ve made the movie even more astounding, it is nonetheless a must-watch and already has a great chance to wind up as the movie of the year.


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