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Legendary Pictures
“Dune: Part Two” is the newest installment of Denis Villeneuve’s retelling of the classic science fiction novel “Dune” by Frank Herbert. It was released in cinemas on Feb. 25 and has been more well-received by viewers than the first installment. Photo permission from Legendary Pictures.

[Review] ‘Dune: Part Two’ proves to be much more well received than the previous installment

The sequel to the first “Dune” movie was released on Feb. 25, 2024. The film came three years after the first movie, with minimal delays due to Hollywood’s writer strikes.

The “Dune” movie franchise is based on Frank Herbert’s science fiction novels of the same name. The original books were published in 1965, and a movie installment was released in 1984 but was widely negatively received.

“Dune” takes place in the Known Universe thousands of years in the future, where planets are ruled under a feudalistic system of government over which the emperor rules all. Bene Gesserit witches use their power, known as the Voice, to control most aspects of imperial government in the shadows. Two major noble houses—House Atreides and House Harkonnen—have fought for centuries over control of the planet Arrakis, a majorly profitable desert planet known for its production of a powerful drug called spice.

The film opens where the first part left off, with a young and gifted Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet, and his Bene Gesserit mother Lady Jessica, played by Rebecca Ferguson, trekking the desert planet of Arrakis with the Fremen tribe.

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The two are still reeling from the events that had taken place just before their joining of the tribe: the Battle of Arrakeen, in which leaders of the opposing House Harkonnen launched a surprise coup against House Atreides. This resulted in the massacre of the capital and the murder of Paul’s father Leto Atreides, Duke of Arrakis. Paul and his mother were able to escape to safety during the events of the coup and met with the Fremen. Paul was able to gain the tribe’s acceptance by winning a ceremonial battle against their leader.

Paul is considered by the Fremen to be a prophet known as the Muad’dib, a part of the religious ideology brought to the Fremen by the Imperium after their first infiltration. They believe he will fulfill a prophecy that will return their planet to the Green Paradise it once was, where water and plants are abundant.

The tribe is initially divided between the skeptical Northerners and the extremely religious Southern fundamentalists. Paul meets Chani (played by Zendaya), a Northerner who appeared frequently in his dreams and visions throughout the first installment. The two begin to grow together and their eventual relationship is prospected by the Fremen to allow the prophecy to be fulfilled.

The performances given by the two actors were equally well-done. The chemistry between Chalamet and Zendaya on screen made their characters’ relationship and struggles believable and real, which is often hard to accomplish in science fiction films. In many movies, such as the first three “Star Wars” movies, the dialogue was often overdone and unrealistic to the characters, with little of the nuance that makes dialogue great.

However, this was not the case with “Dune: Part Two.” The scenes are dramatized but the characters are believable for the genre they are in, and the dialogue generally does not feel forced. Villeneuve has mastered visual storytelling, which is especially hard to convey in a film drowning with specific events and terminology that the general audience is unfamiliar with.

The most notable performance of the movie was undoubtedly Austin Butler’s, who played Baron Vladimir Harkonnen’s nephew Feyd-Rautha Harkonen. A character in the first “Dune” book yet missing from the first film, Feyd-Rautha is the heir to the Baron’s seat and enters the film after Glossu Rabban (played by Dave Bautista) proved too weak to defeat the Fremen tribe on Arrakis. He is introduced in an arena battle in which he displays skills in battle that far exceed both the Baron and the Bene Gesserits’ expectations.

His performance stole the show immediately. Butler portrays Feyd Rautha’s sociopathic tendencies and demeanor perfectly, leaving the audience uncomfortable with his actions but ultimately satisfied in his character.

This particular scene took the production a year to complete—between set design, costume design and the semantics of filming. Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve wanted to convey the Harkonnen planet of Giedi Prime as an artificial and cruel environment. He considered grading the sequence in black and white, but eventually decided on shooting the entire scene using infrared light. This choice prevented them from using the original color of the set but proved perfect for the environment and story Villeneuve wanted to create.

What was instantly most notable about the new installment was the pacing of the film. For a movie with a runtime of almost three hours, it can be extremely hard to keep the audience’s attention for the entire film. “Dune: Part Two” was able to do just that with its action-packed sequences, tense character struggles and professional performances by every cast member.

The sequel was overall dramatically better than the first “Dune” installment, but the reason is clear and justifiable. Both “Dune” productions are based on Frank Herbert’s first novel of the “Dune” franchise. The first movie was primarily exposition for the events to come in the second installment, which proved to be much more fast-paced and action-heavy than the previous.

For fans of science fiction and artistic cinema, watching both installments of the “Dune” series is essential. Those who may not have enjoyed the first movie will likely be floored by the increase in production quality and storytelling in this second installment. Though a long movie in general, the runtime is not overextended and feels appropriate for a story of this magnitude. It will leave audiences fulfilled with spending three hours viewing an exciting and well-made production.

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About the Contributor
Ava Thomas
Ava Thomas, Multimedia Editor
Ava Thomas is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She plays guitar on the weekends and is an officer of Marjory's Garden Club and TV Club.
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