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Dune - Part Two Review - It's in the oddities that Timothée Chalamet's sci-fi epic finds its soul laced with visual grandeur

Dune: Part Two is Denis Villeneuve finding his voice where most of it lands and some of it doesn’t. 

3.5/5rating
Dune - Part Two Review - It's in the oddities that Timothée Chalamet's sci-fi epic finds its soul laced with visual grandeur
Dune 2 Review

Last Updated: 03.08 AM, Feb 29, 2024

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Right after the Fremen have accepted Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and ‘Duke’ Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), Dune: Part Two aka Dune 2 begins with Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) writing a diary about what happened. She feels her father The Emperor (Christopher Walken) is heartbroken after Duke Leto Atreides’ death, unaware of her father’s crime. Back in Arrakis, Paul is up for learning the Power Of the Desert and becoming a Fremen while being in love with Chani. Lady Jessica finds her part to fulfill her prophecy and the Harkonnens are doing all they can to have their hold over Arrakis. Between all of this unfolds Dune 2. 

Dune: Part Two: Review

Denis Villeneuve, with a firm belief and guts to adapt a series of novels written in the 1960s, walked into the Warner Bros office, and the world of cinema has not been the same ever since. His idea to look at a world that is about planets and an indigenous community that wants to save theirs is quite interesting because neither does it aspire to be the next Star Wars nor is there a desperation to look like The Lord Of The Rings. There is enough mettle in the source material to give Denis and the ones putting their money into it the confidence that the audience is happy to watch a movie where a limited number of things happen but the detail is immense. Dune: Part Two stood on a solid platform that Denis created with Part One. But does it manage to hold the position?

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Written by Denis Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts, adapting the second half of Frank Herbert’s first Dune book, Part Two is a movie that works well when it emphasizes its oddities. There are massive worms at the center of it that are now not just a threat for the humans who dare to walk in the desert but also a mode of transport for the Fremen. It’s odd but cinematically so massive that you will forget everything that is bothering you about this aspect. Of course, the questions that arise are how these worms are not eating up the Fremen, and how are the Fremen sure that there are only these many worms that exist? Like I said, the visual brilliance of it all makes you surrender.

And that is how Dune: Part Two works on the broad strokes. Denis is dedicating a whole lot of his film to ideas that you weren’t expecting him to invest in. Almost the entire movie is about Paul building a bond with the desert and trying to get a hold of it. But Villeneuve and Spaihts are clever enough to lace all of this with many conflicts. The best two are the rise of Feyd (Austin Butler) in complete Gladiator style and the look at fanaticism and blind belief that leads a world to oppression.

Both things are so odd that you don’t expect them to be the highlight. But the discussion around why Paul doesn’t want to become the Messiah, and how he knows power will make him a man he doesn’t want to be makes sense when you finally see him on the top of a mountain as he leads a troop of uncountable Fremen folks into a war with the Harkonnen and The Emperor. The prophecies begin to turn true slowly, some by themselves, some triggered by the greedy mother. However, the latter is given a lot of screen time but her eccentricity never has a reason and that does feel like a loose end..

While the first half takes its own time to find an anchor and is very much about how Paul is stuck between the dilemma of being The One and just a Fremen fighter, it is the second half that takes the movie to a level where it only sours higher. Hans Zimmer with a score that you will feel in your calves on an IMAX screen elevates this world with so much of his brilliance. It is a celebration of DOP Greig Fraser’s art and the production design and costume design teams’ eye for detail that Dune: Part Two gets a vibe of its own. The tone of the movie shifts to black and white in one sequence where there is a black sun (possibly on another planet, which is unclear), and the editing piques how.

However, the jump cuts in the first half of Dune: Part Two are very random and they feel incomplete. The way the scenes begin and take a leap to some other day is done quite well in some parts, but randomly in others. The dialogues though are very strong. When Chani says, “Repression only makes a religion flourish,” it echoes because it is true.

Timothée Chalamet’s casting back in the day was questioned by many, but it is the final moments of Dune: Part Two where you see why Denis and the team must have chosen him. The actor with a frame that is not the prototype to be a leader in a movie mounted on this budget proves why he is what he is and Paul gives a very strong performance. Zendaya as Chani continues to be a mystery and I say this because there is so much to her that is yet to be explored. Someone needs to make stickers out of her expression every time she is angry or pissed off with something. It is the love story between her and Paul that becomes the central conflict. However, while the endgame for it aches, it doesn’t pierce like it should because we aren’t given enough time with just the two of them.

Austin Butler as Feyd is brilliant in the screen time he gets but he is killed too soon and too abruptly. Florence Pugh gets the same treatment as Zendaya from Part One, only teased and a lot yet to come. Rebecca Ferguson is amazing in what she is given and the character transformation is done well.

Dune: Part Two: Final Verdict

Denis Villeneuve is trying to find himself in the books he is adapting by tapping into the odds. Most of it lands, some of it doesn’t, but there is so much to marvel at, that the worm ends up eating the cons because this time we also see their size!

Dune: Part Two releases in Indian theaters on March 1, 2024. For more reviews and content from the world of streaming and films, stay tuned to OTTplay.

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