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  • Tyler Harlow

Dune: Part Two

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Based on the novel "Dune" by Frank Herbert

Picking up directly after the events in Part 1, Paul (Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Ferguson) have reached the Fremen and are making their way through the vast deserts of Arrakis. The Fremen leader Stilgar (Bardem) believes Paul to be the one who has been prophesized to rise up and save not only his people but the planet as well. Not all of the Fremen believe this prophecy to be real, especially Chani (Zendaya) who questions Paul at every turn. Meanwhile, Baron Harkonnen (Skarsgård) sets about taking full control of Arrakis, mining as much spice as possible. As Paul begins to learn the way of the Fremen and help them in their pursuit of stopping the Harkonnens, he and Chani form a deep bond and she slowly begins to think the prophecy might be true. As Paul embraces his destiny, the fight against the Harkonnens intensifies and leads to an all out war for Arrakis.

Long considered to be unfilmable, Director Denis Villeneuve set about making a comprehensive and large-scale adaptation of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic. Sure, there was David Lynch's attempt in 1984 but sci-fi fans would prefer to forget that critical and financial disaster. In order to do justice to the novel, Villeneuve rolled the dice and split the movie into two parts. However he needed Part One to be successful before the studio would greenlight Part Two. Given the history fans were wary when Part One debuted in 2021 in a controversial move that saw the film simultaneously released in theaters and on Max. Those worries were quickly dispelled and Part One was a hit critically and financially.

Originally scheduled to be released in October of last year, the anticipated movie was forced to be moved to this year due to the strikes. Finally, fans get to see the conclusion of the sci-fi epic that Villenueve teased in Part One.

It was very much worth the wait. And I will go ahead and say that Villenueve has made one of, if not the, best modern blockbuster (sorry not sorry Avatar). It's smart, well-written and filled with imaginative and vivid action scenes. Spectacle like this is what made me fall in love with the movies in the first place. Part One set up the events of this film beautifully and Part Two doesn't slow down at all. Yes, the plot is dense and there is a chance you might get lost in the chess match between Paul and the Harkonnens but Villenueve has created a film so dense story wise and visually taut you can't help but be along for the ride. The movie runs close to three hours and I was on the edge of my seat the entire way.

As I said, the movie is visually impressive. Filmed on IMAX, this allows Villenueve and cinematographer Greig Fraser a wider frame to pack all sorts of eye candy for us. This works the best in action scenes, like when Paul attempts to ride the Sandworm or during the final battle for Arrakis that features multiple sandworms attacking. I can't describe how giddy my inner child was watching those worms crash through the sand and a sea of bad guys on screen. The scale that is able to be created is just undeniably impressive. Even more so on a giant IMAX screen.

Part Two somehow has assembled an even more impressive cast than Part One, adding the likes of Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken and Austin Butler. Butler makes the biggest impression as the psychotic and menacing Feyd-Rautha. He gets one of the more memorable character introductions I've seen recently, not just because of the startling violence his character inspires but also due to the creative way Fraser and Villeneueve shoot the scene. Butler, and really anyone in the scene, are bathed in a filter that gives the film almost a photo negative-esque appearance. It makes you uneasy, especially once fireworks start going off. Its unsettling. Butler also does a great job impersonating Skarsgård's voice, realistically selling their familial connection.

Zendaya and Bardem, who were only really present at the end of Part One, get a lot more to do here. Zendaya, who consistently reminds you that she is one of the best young actresses working today, brings a lot of humanity to Chani. She and Chalamet have a decent chemistry but I blame Chalamet more for that relationships shortcomings than I do her. Chalamet is just simply miscast as Paul. I felt that watching (and rewatching) Part One and I still think that here. Is he bad? No. I just don't think he embodies Paul with anything that makes his transition to leader believable. Especially here, as Part Two really dives into his journey of accepting his destiny. Maybe that's just me though and realistically his performance didn't hurt my feelings on the film one bit. I was hooked regardless.

The movie leaves things open for another chapter and I honestly couldn't be more on board for more stories with these characters. Especially if Villenueve is driving things creatively. He takes big risks but also fundamentally understands what sci-fi fans crave for on the big screen. See this in IMAX!

Grade: A+


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