Dune: Part Two plants seeds for more sci-fi to grow

Wed. February 21, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Are you feeling burned out on award-season fodder and looking for something fresh at the cinema? Dune: Part Two will provide an oasis on the deserted plain of lackluster films usually released at the beginning of the year. Not only does it improve on Dune: Part One, but it doesn't leave new viewers stranded in the dark for long.

Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune is a complex story that has gone through several adaptations starting in the seventies after the book's release with several failed attempts over the years. Eventually, it was brought to life by director David Lynch in 1984 but was viewed as a box office bomb and infuriated critics. With the lengthy source material Lynch wanted to create two parts much like director Denis Villeneuve did in 2021 and now in 2024.

The epic story is set on the desert planet Arrakis thousands of years in the future where spice is harvested to assist in space travel for a group called the Sardaukar. Timothee Chalamet plays Paul Atreides who trains to be a possible savior to fight invaders in this spice world. This talented actor does much of the heavy lifting while training in part one and then rises to power in part two where he fares much better.

Dune inspired the saga of Star Wars in many ways such as a desert planet and the search for Spice Melange. Unlike the George Lucas franchise, Dune delves much deeper into the subject matter of ecology, religion and politics. Science fiction writers borrowed ideas from each other all the time during Herbert's high point so it's difficult to say who inspired whom.

Part deux is well crafted though thanks to Villeneuve and his team of co-writers. Viewers shouldn't feel obligated to do homework like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it's easy to catch up to speed without being too confused. Ticket holders can immersive themselves in a futuristic environment that doesn't seem long despite the lengthy running time. An intermission would have been a welcomed break for a movie longer than Gone with the Wind though.

The ensemble cast contains immeasurable talent and could have suffered as an overabundant mess of egos. Instead, the actors are well-suited for their individual roles and have time to shine as the storyline rolls out.

Zendaya continues to astound with her grounded portrayal of Chani and Josh Brolin brings a strong confidence to military man Gurney Halleck. Javier Bardem is a standout as Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen tribe and new cast members Austin Butler and Florence Pugh both do formidable jobs.

The battle scenes need to be seen in a theater and the visuals are simply out of this world. The giant sandworms are nightmare-inducing and the well-choreographed fights have to be watched on the big screen.

Exploring an age old conflict between northern and southern regions while mixing in religion still resonates today and will continue well into the future. Dune: Part Three is in the works and based on the second novel Dune Messiah and the prequel Dune: Prophesy is slated for Max later this year.

Is Chalamet the Jesus that the population needs in this holy war? Only time will tell. Like sands through the hourglass, these are the Dunes of our lives.

Seek out Dune: Part Two on March 1, 2024, at an IMAX movie theater and prepare to be shook!