Keith’s Movie Korner: ‘Dune: Part Two’ is a spicy sequel

By Keith Walther | Rose Law Group Reporter

Three years after the highly successful sci-fi remake comes the much-anticipated follow-up, and it somehow exceeds the lofty expectations. “Dune: Part Two” does for the franchise what “Empire Strikes Back” did for “Star Wars,” takes it from great to legendary status. Combining extraordinary filmmaking with a complexly riveting storyline with memorable acting performances, this is a film that sets the bar high for 2024.

After the harrowing escape from certain annihilation in the first film, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) find refuge with Stilgar (Javier Bardem), Chani (Zendaya), and the rest of the Fremen. With the Fremen’s help, Paul learns how to survive the unforgiving desert world of Arrakis, while also assisting the Fremen in precision attacks against the occupying Harkonnens to hinder their spice trade. Frustrated by the heavy losses, the Emperor (Christopher Walken) sends assistance to Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) in the form of the psychopathic Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler).

As the tide begins to shift and the Harkonnens begin to regain control, Paul must confront his destiny and prophecy, making difficult decisions and sacrifices in order to save the people he’s come to respect and love. Reuniting with Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), Paul is reminded of his bloody quest for vengeance, but blindly following this path could lead him and his loved ones into certain doom. He must navigate a path to avoid a horrific future only he can see.

Oscar nominated writer/director Denis Villeneuve crafts an epic sci-fi sequel that tickles the imagination and explodes on screen in a visual spectacle. “Dune: Part Two” is not only a continuation of the masterful work he brought to the big screen in 2021, but it’s an evolution into something even greater. Villeneuve puts on a clinic for how to create a proper series of films. “Dune” was the foundational film that establishes the setting, the character development, and the basis of the story, thereby making it a necessarily slower paced movie. So, in this film he’s able to simply build on that foundation, weaving in a few new characters and plot twists, while maintaining a much faster paced film that makes the nearly three-hour runtime fly by. This is a director clearly comfortable in the sci-fi genre, receiving nominations for “Dune” and “Arrival,” but snubbed for his outstanding effort with “Blade Runner 2049.” He also should have been previously nominated for his earlier works, “Prisoners” and “Sicario.” One thing is for certain, he’s likely to receive his fourth nomination for this film.

Had “Dune: Part Two” been released this past November as originally intended until the industry strikes foiled that plan, it’s likely it would have stolen a few Oscars from “Oppenheimer,” especially in the technical categories. For instance, the achievement in sound for this motion picture is astounding, matching the incredibly large scope and enhancing the heart pounding action. Likewise, the visual effects are stunning, transporting the audience to this barren wasteland of danger and gigantic worms. Even the cinematography is exquisite, shifting the camera style to match the feel of the scene like switching to a black and white format for the Giedi Prime scenes to depict the ruthless nature of its people.

To top it off, this is a star-studded cast that lives up to their billing, bringing this multi-layered story to life. Timothée Chalamet is on a hot streak playing the lead role in these “Dune” films and having brilliantly portrayed Willy Wonka just recently. Much like this film, he grows in this role, progressing his character from being driven by vengeance into a reluctant leader falling in love. Similarly, his co-star Zendaya has been on fire, having previously starred in the past three “Spider-Man” films as well as riveting performances in the hit TV series “Euphoria.” She matches Chalamet’s intensity, challenging him consistently in their scenes together that enhances their on-screen chemistry.

With a supporting cast as deep as this one, it’s difficult to stand out, but two performers clearly do just that. Rebecca Ferguson provides one such performance, exhibiting such power in her matronly role that transitions into a religious leader. This is easily her most compelling performance to date. Austin Butler is responsible for the other stand-out performance. His transformation from the Oscar nominated portrayal of “Elvis” to this fiendishly psychotic killer is sadistically delightful. He’s unrecognizable in this villainous role, showing a surprising depth to his acting ability that extends beyond an Elvis impersonation.

This movie lives up to the hype and beyond, and it is an early contender for best picture of the year. “Dune: Part Two” is a masterpiece of flawless design that will have audiences clamoring for the third and final installment. Do yourself a favor and watch this massive and highly entertaining production on the biggest and best screen you possibly can.

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March 2024