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‘Dune: Part Two’ (review)

As one of the most celebrated works of science fiction of all time, Frank Herbert’s magnum opus Dune is a dizzyingly expansive narrative, and bringing it to the silver screen has proved to be an almost insurmountable task, with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s vision never entering production, and David Lynch disowning his 1984 effort after it became one of the most infamous casualties of studio interference in film history.

With his first Dune film, Denis Villeneuve appeared to break this curse as he delivered a richly textured first installment in his adaptation of the epic sci-fi saga, which came as no surprise to anyone familiar with his filmography, especially after 2018’s Blade Runner 2049 meticulously brought the Blade Runner universe back to life and satisfyingly expanded upon it.

While some felt the first film left something to be desired, what is clear after seeing its continuation is that Villeneuve purposefully wanted to build a strong foundation for an uncompromisingly callous world of political intrigue and prophetic levels of grandeur to prepare audiences for the next part of the journey of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet).

Now, we have the second part of Villeneuve’s vision, and if it was not clear from his first Dune endeavor, Dune: Part Two cements why this narrative and the spectacle that it demands makes it truly deserving of being witnessed on a huge screen with the best sound possible, as the spectacle continues to build its momentum in the second part.

We pick up immediately where the first film left off, and the world of Arrakis is as expertly realized as it was in the first installment, creating an engrossing world that will suck you in and hurtle you along like you are a Fremen riding a giant sandworm through the sands of the barren planet.

The performances are all excellent across the board, with both the returning cast continuing to expand on the emotional and narrative complexity of their characters, and new players like Austin Butler and Florence Pugh seamlessly weave their characters into the story in a manner that adds meaningfully to the narrative.

While the length of the film is certainly felt, this is not necessarily a negative, however, it does depend on how well the individual viewer engages with the story.

Additionally, after two dense acts with substantial amounts of world-building and expansion of character arcs, the third act does feel somewhat rushed, but seeing as this is unlikely to be the last we see of Villeneuve’s Dune, it remains to be seen how it will fit into what will, perhaps, turn out to be his triptych vision of this saga.

Denis Villeneuve has long since entered the annals of film history as a remarkably competent filmmaker, and if anyone was going to succeed in finally bringing Herbert’s work to the big screen, it would have to be someone of Villeneuve’s caliber.

Toeing a line between satisfying fans of the books and making the world of Dune engrossing for newcomers unfamiliar with the books, Villeneuve has once again made a remarkable achievement in science fiction filmmaking history, and if the critical reception and box office numbers thus far are anything to go by, Villeneuve is nowhere near done with this saga.

Verdict: 9 out of 10.

*  *  *  *  *
Produced by Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Patrick McCormick,
Tanya Lapointe, Denis Villeneuve
Screenplay by Denis Villeneuve Jon Spaihts
Based on Dune by Frank Herbert
Directed by Denis Villeneuve 
Starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin,
Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux,
Souheila Yacoub, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Javier Bardem

 

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