Opinion — I haven’t read the book

‘Dune: Part Two’ movie review
Opinion — I havent read the book

As Alia Atreides says, “You are not prepared for what is to come.” Denis Villeneuve’s second installment of the sci-fi series comes to theaters and goes home with its audience. Between the immaculate cinematography capturing endless desert to Hans Zimmer’s percussive and sultry score, ‘Dune: Part Two’ disappoints no one. The movie trailer teased fans with Timothee Chalamet riding a sandworm, and after nearly three hours of content, I can safely say he does it a lot. 

I was nervous to go into this movie remembering how convoluted the first one was. I thought if the first installment was dense with thousands of years of world-building lore, then the second installment that builds upon that must really require a lot of viewer attention. To my surprise, ‘Dune: Part Two’ was incredibly followable. Partly because it flawlessly both regards and respects “the hero’s journey” trope while also being creatively distinct from it. Many have tried and failed to make Frank Herbert’s novels into cinema because of its density, but Denis Villeneuve is so concise and deliberate with his stylistic and structural choices that even as someone who has never read the books, I was captivated and entertained from beginning to end. 

That being said, blockbuster movies in the past year have had a terrible habit of being too long. With a running time of two hours and 46 minutes, I required an intermission that did not come. Luckily, there are a few lulls within the film complimented with stunning imagery to give viewer’s minds a moment of rest from the stimulation of explosions and hand-to-hand combat. 

With the introduction of new characters also came surprising arcs of existing ones. Watching the characters evolve and change their minds throughout the film added complexity that is often lost in plot-driven stories like ‘Dune.’ The rising tension between those who believe Paul is the messiah and those who are apprehensive, to say the least, has the audience questioning what they themselves believe. I had my mind made up; Timothee Chalamet is my Jesus.

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The movie envelops the viewer in the intensity of submission and manipulation, the heat of faith and the power of fear. It is obvious that this was first a book, because some of the one liners are downright biblical. The casting for Feyd-Rautha, the rising heir of the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, was flawless. His pleasure in cruelty is captured in the nuances of his mannerisms as well as his grandeur acts of violence. Austin Butler puts on a devastating performance to emulate the volatile nature of his character. 

Who I was not impressed with, however, was Zendaya. According to my brother, who has read the books, Denis Villeneuve took the creative liberty of changing Chani’s character from a dedicated supporter of Paul “as it is written” in the book to an adversary to the prophecy that Paul is the messiah. Their weird little love scenes took me out of the movie, and felt incredibly out of place. Every time Paul disagrees with Chani it is met by her looking angrily at him, using the power of CGI to express the intensity of her stare with edited-in blue spice eyes. 

The character that really stole the show for me, without spoiling, is the baby worm. Yes, there is a baby sandworm, and I’m obsessed with it. The Fremen harness the baby worm’s blue goop for “the water of life,” and only have to tap the sand with their hands to summon it. This alone makes up for Zendaya’s shortcomings. I’m interested in reading the novels both to test the accuracy of the films and to understand the complexities of the fictional universe’s political climate. Baby worms aside, the film is successful in any film adaptation’s goal to make the viewers want to read the book. I left the theater last night invested and entranced in Frank Herbert’s world. 

While ‘Dune: Part Two’ has plenty of action, war and dramatic duels, this is not the end. It is entirely set up for a next installment. All of the fun of sword fights, mystic visions, Florence Pugh scenes and funky stillsuits, will follow us into Dune three along with Paul’s responsibility of unrelinquished power.

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