“Dune: Part 2”

 “Dune: Part 2”

By Lucas Battista

In Theaters – Starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya Coleman, Rebecca Ferguson, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Stellan Skarsgård.

Denis Villeneuve’s spin on the 1965 science-fiction novel “Dune” has made for an enthralling two-part epic that realizes the heroic rise-to-power and revenge of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) on the silver screen. (Admittedly, I haven’t read any of Frank Herbert’s books, so I am ignorant of the movie’s source-material.)

The majority of “Dune” is set on an Arabesque, sun-kissed sand world known as Arrakis, the surface of which is composed of spice — a narcotic substance crucial to navigation within the “Dune” universe. Although the book (and the movie by proxy) are both an epic and a space-opera, do not let this fool you — despite all the intrigue, conniving, and plots-within-plots, the movie derives a good deal of strength from Paul Atreides gallivanting across Arrakis and assimilating into the culture of its denizens, the Fremen. I could watch ten hours of the Fremen sucking water from corpses with these strange spindly devices, quarrels over antiquated and dying traditions, prescient moments of clairvoyance mixed with heat waves, and a constant tread between the dangers of the Fremen’s own home world and its Harkonnen invaders.

“Dune” at best builds and visualizes a world in living color that while seemingly alien is entirely familiar to us humans, picking from various Earthly inspirations. The cinematography is just brilliant, and like Villenueve’s other recent endeavors, is touched by flat, wide, open, and minimal visuals. Speaking of the bald Harkonnen, both Part 1 and Part 2 present our villain as the calculating Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (played by Stellan Skarsgård, who you might remember as Scherbina in HBO’s “Chernobyl”). There is something uniquely terrifying about this large “Elmer Fudd” looking figure as he hovers around via “suspensors.” (A luxury yet to be afforded to most shoppers at Walmart). Both movies succeed in rolling together a massive, star-studded cast and cleverly presenting them in a way that doesn’t destroy the immersion of the audience, with the exception of Christopher Walken as Emperor Shaddam IV. As much as I love him, his appearance stands out so bad that it entirely rips at the big denouement of Part 2, with Mr. Walken “giving away” the handful of scenes he is in.

That being said, my biggest gripe with “Dune: Part 2” was its at times annoyingly hagiographic depiction of Paul Atreides at the very end, with one victory montage over the next rolled on top of the audience, wave by wave.

Of course, both “Dune” movies are populated with a considerable amount of action, some of which is executed well, and some of which consists of a giant mosh pit with guys running into each other with swords. The choreography for the super personal fight scenes is terrific, and the final face off at the end of Part 2 (which I won’t spoil) was done fantastically. Stilgar (played by Javier Bardem) is hilariously charming, serving as the hype-man any time Paul Atreides appears.

Wrapping things all together, both movies, and I imagine the original novels, intend to convey a simple narrative- in a spartan, unforgiving, and violent setting, any hope is not seen through zealous, deaf idealism but by overcoming one’s own fear. Unfortunately, I am unable to overcome the fear of them making any more “Dune” movies, I’d prefer they just wrap it up here in a neat bow.

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