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Film Review - Dune: Part Two

Kelaru & Fulton rating: ★★★★★

Available in cinemas | Runtime: 2hrs 46mins

This is one of those films that come once in a generation. Similar to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the Rings, it does justice to the books and stays true to what a cinematic experience should be: good story delivered well. Its sci-fi genre only amplifies its impressiveness, showcasing a respectful adherence to the original books while navigating the temptations of an estimated $190 million budget that could have easily led to an over-reliance on visuals, CGI, and action sequences.

None of that happens in Dune Part Two.

Instead, we get a more focused approach than part 1, with the spectacle and CGI taking second place and prioritising story and characters. Despite its lengthy runtime of 2 hours and 46 minutes, the film never loses its narrative clarity or succumbs to excessive visual effects. The epic battle scenes, when they occur, are impactful because the character development is already firmly established, making the audience invested in their outcomes.

In Dune Part 2 we pick up right where we left off with Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) now comfortably in the hands of the Fremen, decisively in love with Chani (Zendaya) and with the peace of mind of a person that has found his place. All he wants is to become a Fremen and spend the rest of his life with Chani on the dusty planet of Arrakis. But that is not his fate, and somehow he knows it. His mother, Jessica Attreides (Rebecca Ferguson) is convinced that he is the chosen one, Kwisatz Haderach, a super-powerful being that can see into the future and is destined to rule the universe. This is all part of the Bene Gesserit order grand masterplan of manipulating and controlling the powerful houses in the galaxy to fulfil this prophecy. Paul quickly finds himself at a crossroads between the simple, happy life and his urge to avenge the destruction of his house which can lead to further deaths and fulfilment of his prophetic fate.

Jessica Atreides is only one of the multiple supporting characters that are allowed enough screen time to develop and make the audience understand the reasons behind their decisions. The religious Fremen fanatic Stilgar (Javier Bardem) is convinced that Paul is the chosen one, even though he faces resistance from his own people. The Emperor (Christopher Walken) is torn between past decisions and the future of the empire with his daughter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) at the centre of it. And ruthless Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) has to decide between a life of comfort under the shadow of his father Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard) or step up and usurp him.

The underlying themes here are very important. We are looking at a coming-of-age story, but not just any. Paul is a youngster thrown into the harsh politics between the houses, which forces him to grow up, but what he grows up into is something much more sinister, and we can see this on the screen. The film shows very well the power of a prophecy, especially when it is so skilfully propagated and sometimes enforced by the mysterious Bene Gesserit order. History has seen many prophets come and go and never have the actions of one left behind a better world. Paul has to navigate this fate and take control of it before it’s too late.

And then there’s sandworms. We only see a bit of these legendary creatures in the first part, but this time, we get to see them in all their glory. We learn of their ways of being, the way they navigate the sand and how the Fremen live and thrive under the threat of the ever-shifting sands.

This film is perfectly balanced. It has the right mix of character development, drama and spectacle to make 3 hrs feel like 30 minutes. It sets the standards to very high for future adaptations and continues to remind me of the great job that Peter Jackson did in adapting the Lord of The Rings trilogy. It is not 100% faithful to the books, but it does them justice by understanding what they are about and delivering on it. It has never been clearer to me when a masterpiece reveals itself and this falls nicely into that category.

I wonder what Part 3 will bring.



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