LAUREN’S REVIEW: ‘Dune: Part Two’

By Lauren Bradshaw
Lauren’s Review

I won’t be the first or last person to say “Dune: Part Two” joins the pantheon of elite movie sequels, right there with “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” “The Dark Knight,” “Aliens”… you get my drift. Throughout the film, I caught myself looking at my watch, not because I was bored and wanted to see how much time was left, but quite the opposite; I was dreading the film ending. Writer/director Denis Villeneuve provides the best cinematic experience I have had in a long time, from the stunning visuals that seamlessly combine CGI and practical sets, to the edge-of-your-seat action, and of course the masterful performances from an all-star-caliber cast. “Dune: Part Two” is going to be talked about for decades to come and is a powerful reminder that the theatrical experience is the best way to experience films, especially ones as beautifully shot as this.

Picking up soon after “Dune” ended, the House of Atreides has fallen at the hands of the Harkonnen, who have reclaimed the lucrative spice production on Arrakis. The emperor (Christopher Walken) is alerted to this shift in the balance of power. However, his daughter, Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), suspects the Atreides heir may still be alive.

Back on Arrakis, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), who narrowly escaped their own deaths, are attempting to ingratiate themselves to the local Fremen. Some of the Fremen believe Paul and Jessica are spies, while others, particularly Stilgar (Javier Bardem), believe Paul is a leader foretold in their prophecies. Over time, Paul begins to fall for Chani (Zendaya), who helps him better understand the language and local customs, including riding sand worms.

But as Harkonnen raids become more deadly at the hands of Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler), stripping Arrakis of its resources and creating an existential threat to the Fremen, they know it’s time to escalate the resistance. But it’s going to take some serious planning, wit and manpower for the Fremen to stand up against their brutish rivals, and they’re going to need to create a unified resistance front. If only they had a prophesied leader to bring everyone together…

There are no weak moments or performances in the film. But Rebecca Ferguson and Austin Butler are the true standouts, with the latter being a more showy villain role and the former having a measured intensity that jumps off the screen. Butler’s arc as the sinister Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is a showcase that actors dream about. The fact that he went from charismatic crooner Elvis Presley to a dark-souled villain like Feyd-Rautha in the matter of a year is one for the ages. Ferguson, on the other hand, is more restrained; you never know exactly what her character is going to do next. With her new power as a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, can she be completely trusted? Something maniacal is lingering under the surface, with Ferguson’s blue-tinted eyes threatening to pierce through your soul and decimate anything in her path.

Chalamet does an incredible job fully coming into his own as Paul Atreides. It’s amazing how much epic-level character development is fit over the two “Dune” films, but by the closing scene, Paul is a completely different person than he was when we first met him, and that is a testament to Villaneuve’s script and Chalemet’s multi-layered performance. I also loved that the script enabled Paul and Chani’s relationship to come to the forefront without getting bogged down in melodrama. Apart, they are strong, independent, ambitious warriors. Together, they are the beating heart of the film.

You will be doing yourself a disservice if you do not see “Dune: Part Two” in the biggest, loudest theater you can. Shot in part with IMAX cameras, the film is best experienced in true IMAX, but because there are so few theaters that are able to screen the film in 70 mm, a local IMAX or Dolby theater will still do the trick. I saw it at a Dolby theater and could literally feel the reverberations of the thumper, as well as Hans Zimmer’s score rippling through the theater. And honestly, you are going to want to be in a loud theater so your fellow audience members’ oooohhhs and aaahhhhsss will be drowned out by the incredible sound.

This is not a movie you should wait to watch at home. It is one you should fully take advantage of and see several times in theaters to revel in a perfect cinematic experience. I imagine this film will have staying power, and you will be excited to brag to your kids/grandkids that you were at the opening weekend of “Dune: Part Two”!

My Review: A

Lauren Bradshaw grew up in Courtland, graduated from Southampton Academy and double-majored in foreign affairs and history at the University of Virginia. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area and can be reached at flickchickdc@gmail.com.

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