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‘Dune: Part Two’ movie review: Denis Villeneuve’s sequel is an epic, planet-levelling conclusion event

Timothee Chalamet in a scene from “Dune: Part Two.”
| Photo Credit: NIKO TAVERNISE

The sandworm sequences in Dune: Part Two are apparently director Denis Villeneuve’s favourite. They were, however, just that wee bit underwhelming. Dune (2021) only teased these mighty denizens of the desert much like the mean shark in Jaws where we saw the circling tail fin and heard scary music forever till it came out of the water to chomp up Robert Shaw.

That is not the case with Dune: Part Two as we still only see sand gushing like a geyser as the gigantic worms move and their gaping mouths with many teeth like a sea anemone; we do not see its eyes or the ‘legs’ that propel it at warp speed. How does the sandworm move? Does it have legs or does it move like an earthworm? Or, does it burrow in the sand, though even for that it would need legs. Maybe it ate the sand and expelled it and thus moved forward?

A scene from “Dune: Part Two.”

A scene from “Dune: Part Two.”
| Photo Credit:
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Let us not get distracted with the movement mechanics of the sandworm, which as Villeneuve has rightly said, author Frank Herbert (whose 1965 sci-fi epic the two films are based upon) did not provide adequate information on. We have a film to review. Dune: Part Two picks up the action where Dune left off.

After the cowardly attack on the House Atreides, Paul (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), have to face the suspicion of the fremen, the native people of the spice-rich Arrakis. Though a desert, Arrakis is important to the empire as it is the only place that produces spice, which is necessary for interplanetary travel and to remain forever young.

Dune: Part Two 

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Javier Bardem

Runtime: 167 minutes

Storyline: Paul meets his destiny, while walking the tightrope between desire and duty

There are power struggles between the all-round bad guys, the Harkonnen — led by the corpulent Baron (Stellan Skarsgård) and his nephews, Rabban (Dave Bautista) and the psychotic Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) — and the Emperor (Christopher Walken), who might or might not be involved in the dirty deeds. His daughter, Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), also has stakes in the power struggle.

The shadowy order of the Bene Gesserits is embedded in every part of the empire; Jessica is one of the order as are the emperor’s truthsayer, Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling), and friend Lady Fenring (Léa Seydoux). Though initially resistant, Paul finally comes to accept his role as the leader of the fremen. He is mentored by Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), a former military leader of House Atreides, and fremen leader, Stilgar (Javier Bardem). Paul also finds love in Chani (Zendaya), a fremen warrior, much to his mother’s dismay as she wishes him to make a politically relevant marriage.

Austin Butler, left, and Lea Seydoux in a scene from “Dune: Part Two.”

Austin Butler, left, and Lea Seydoux in a scene from “Dune: Part Two.”
| Photo Credit:

The meditative aspects of Dune have been eschewed for a conventional sci-fi war movie, with a spot of romance and a suitably epic, martial score by Hans Zimmer. As with all Villeneuve projects, Dune: Part Two is visually arresting and the battle sequences leave one gob-smacked. The transport vehicles, whether the dragonfly-inspired ornithopters (Herbert does not describe them either, but they are extraordinarily well-realised in the movie) or the huge carriers, are awe-inspiring.

One cannot get a handle on Paul and Chani’s relationship as it struggles to find a balance between a teen romance, planet-leveling emotion and a saas-bahu saga. The philosophical concepts of the cult of messiah and the environmental impact of greed are touched upon. Acting-wise, Butler has a rollicking time as Feyd-Rautha (he looked to sharks and Mick Jagger for inspiration!) while Ferguson continues as Elsa Faust brooking no nonsense from Hunt, Harkonnen or her son.

Dune: Part Two has all the hallmarks of an epic event movie, from the costumes to the battles and language — Game of Thrones language creator David Peterson and Villeneuve created the fremen’s language, Chakobsa. If only one could have seen the sandworms better, we would not have to stare into the night wondering how they move. Guess we might have to wait for Part Three based on Dune Messiah.

Dune Part 2 is currently running in theatres

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