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Film Review: Dune: Part Two

Welcome back to the blog readers. I do apologize for the hiatus, but there have not been too many juicy films to be able to sink my teeth into to start 2024. That has all changed now, though, as we finally return to Arrakis. I very much enjoyed Dune (2021), but not nearly as much as certain people. With the hype surrounding this sequel, would I join my boy in paradise, or would it all come crashing down like an atomic blast? Stick around to find out.

Dune: Part Two is directed by Denis Villeneuve from a screenplay by him and Jon Spaihts. The film sees Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, and Javier Bardem reprise their roles from the first film, joined by Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Christopher Walken, and Léa Seydoux. In the film, Paul Atreides continues his journey to take revenge on those who destroyed his family. Now united with the Fremen of Arrakis, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can predict.

When initial reactions and reviews came out for this film, I thought they were too good to be true. People were thanking their gods and their lucky stars to be alive at a time where a film like this could come out. Some hailed it as one of the greatest films ever made. Others called it a cinematic achievement (I call nonsense, you cannot call this a cinematic achievement when we have Meg 2: The Trench (2023) and Madame Web (2024) right here!). With that being said, and all joking aside, I do not agree with these sentiments. However, I do agree that this film is fantastic and a massive step-up from the first film. Stunning visual effects, cinematography, sound design, score, and performances all make up a sci-fi epic that is sure to thrill even the harshest doubters (that are not my family).

I want to start this review by giving the ultimate praise to my boy. Timothée Chalamet acted his ass off in this film. Since I saw him (and fell in love with him both figuratively and literally) in Little Women (2019), he has done nothing but impress me. He gives possibly his best performance in Dune: Part Two as the Duke of House Atreides, the Muad'Dib. Chalamet delivers a fire I did not think him capable of, but his scene in the Fremen war council absolutely shocked me to the core. It may be early in the conversation, but I truly believe he should get an Oscar nomination next year. Being able to act circles around Christopher Walken of all people should warrant it. And it is all deserved for the next Daniel Day-Lewis.

The next performance I want to praise is that of Austin Butler. Butler roared into the mainstream with his performance in Elvis (2022), which was my favorite performance of that year (and one that got him an Oscar nomination). For the role of Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, he delivered a darkness even I was not aware he could deliver. He was built like an absolute badass and he completely flourished as the psycho addicted to pain. Just the gladiator scene alone convinced me he will be a hell of a character actor for decades to come.

The final performance I want to talk about is that of Javier Bardem. Bardem had a small role to play in Dune, but his role is expanded in Dune: Part Two. And Bardem takes what he has been given this time around and absolutely runs with it. You can believe in his belief of Paul as being the Lisan al Gaib, with a power and a confidence that only Bardem can deliver. This may be one of his better roles in the past decade, and I am happy that he is getting the love he so clearly deserves. Possibly a contender for Best Supporting Actor a year from now?

The next source of my praise absolutely will go to the cinematography of Greig Fraser. There are shots in this film (and some of them are in the trailer so you know about them) that absolutely blew me away. The big explosion seen in the trailer, the fight between Paul and Feyd-Rautha was shot beautifully, pretty much almost everything is shot with the reverence and love that Villeneuve has for this world and these characters. Fraser is the odds-on favorite a year in advance to win Best Cinematography, and he would absolutely deserve it.

Oh, golly. The sound on this film is stunning. I do not know who is leading the sound team, and I honestly do not care. Find whoever it is and mail them their Oscars right now. We don't need to present that category. When we look at the sound design, look no further than the scene where Paul rides the sandworm. When the thumpers are placed, we hear nothing but the thumpers, and when Paul runs to land on the worm, the sound is completely in your face and you feel it in your chest. I have not felt that since the Trinity Test scene in Oscar-champion film (and my personal champion film) Oppenheimer (2023). Like I said, mail them their Oscars now.

The next thing I want to talk about in this review is the visual effects. In fact, I will go one step further. Mail THESE guys their Oscars while you're at it Academy. The visual effects are absolutely stunning in this film. Go back to the aforementioned explosion before the final fight. Go to the Harkonnen's home world. Go to the flashforwards. Everything is again treated with reverence and love, and that is something that cannot be underestimated when it sweeps all the technical awards next year.

The final thing I want to talk about is Hans Zimmer. That's it. But seriously, Hans Zimmer has leveled the fuck up when it comes to Dune. Every track is epic in scale, the drums are glaring, the trumpets and horns are snaring, it is literally just perfection. I will echo the same sentiment that I did for the last two paragraphs: just fucking mail Hans Zimmer the Oscar. I cannot see anyone else matching this.

In conclusion, Dune: Part Two is a major level-up of the first film with better acting, cinematography, visual effects, score, and a story that is mostly faithful to the original novel. Thank you all for reading, and I will see you for the next post.

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