Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans

DUNE PART 2 *****


Directed by Denis Villeneuve.
Starring Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson.
Science-Fiction, US, 165 minutes, certificate 12.


Released in cinemas in the UK 1st March by Warner Bros


Once again, the vast desert sands of Arrakis shimmers and shakes as if in preparation for the galaxy shaking events that are about to unfold courtesy of young Paul Atreides journey to messianic figurehead. Taking place immediately after the first film we follow Paul and his mother Jessica further into the desert after their alliance with the Fremen, both parties aligning to take the fight back to House Harkonnen. Meanwhile Emperor Shaddam IV and his daughter worry about their part to play in the massacre of House Atreides being uncovered while the scheming Bene Gesserit sisterhood prepare for the coming of the Kwisatz Haderach, a plot to install a galactic figurehead that has been centuries in the making.


As this brief synopsis illustrates this is dense stuff. But Denis Villeneuve’s sure-footed approach makes all of this jargon heavy feuding and schemes within schemes with its otherworldly atmosphere instantly accessible to a mass audience, particularly after the excellent job he did with setting all of this up in Part 1. Perhaps the books weirder edges have been smoothed out; the complete lack of the Weirding Modules and the slug like Guild Navigator are still missed, but there is more than enough of an otherworldly atmosphere on offer here. Backing this up is a plethora of astounding visuals that demand to be seen on as large a screen as possible, at times the film feels like a live action component of the vintage sci-fi art that graced many sci-fi paperbacks or prog rock albums. Be it the dark spacecraft hanging silently against the burnt orange skyscape of Arrakis or the black sun that burns out all the colour of the atmosphere of Giedi Prime this is spectacular stuff even before you get to the giant worms and epic battle scenes.


The storyline and characters are also given more time to breathe and expand upon themselves here. Dave Bautista and Javier Bardem make the most of their expanded screen time, while Rebecca Ferguson’s motherly figure takes on a more zealous and scheming edge as her Bene Gesserit training transforms her into a space-age Lady Macbeth. The Shakespearean edge continues through Chalamet’s performance of Paul Atreides, where in the first film he seems fearful of his visions of a holy war that will slaughter countless lives across space and time, his seeming acceptance of this fate steers the character and films into a tragic and moral grey area that other films on this scale seem to shy away from. Special mention should also go to Zendaya, really stepping up to the plate here after her limited role in the first film, where she grapples with this in a way that gives the film such a gripping emotional core.


Also, worth noting and commending is Austin Butler taking on the role of Feyd Rautha, a character once immortalised in cinema history as nothing more than a ginger haired Sting in winged leather underpants from David Lynch’s fascinating adaptation. Butler pretty much obliterates that unfortunately goofy memory here with a truly sadistic villain without resorting to cheap theatrics, while his hulking uncle, Stellan Skarsgaard’s Baron Harkonnen, who is even more sadistic and imposing than before, looks on approvingly.


This does what a good sequel should do and then some. Delivering more visually while deepening on the themes and storyline, some of which have similarities to some of the more troubling events that are raging across our own world today. This is grand and dark, thrilling stuff that leaves the viewer grappling with its now tricky characters and themes while never forgetting to thrill with visuals and a storyline that has been plundered by many other lesser franchises over the years. While the wait and anticipation for this was high, helped by a months-long delay in release due to last year’s writers and actors strikes, the wait for DUNE MESSIAH will seem even longer and much more anticipated after watching this.


Iain MacLeod.


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