Thursday, March 28, 2024

Dune: Part Two

Movie Name:
Dune: Part Two
Year of Release: 2024
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Charlotte Rampling, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgaard, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, Souheila Yacoub, Roger Yuan, Giusi Merli, Alison Halstead, Dylan Baldwin, Tim Hilborne, Anya Taylor-Joy
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9
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Synopsis and Review
Following the commercial and critical success of "Dune: Chapter One", Denis Villeneuve had the opportunity to finish the adaptation of Frank Herbert's iconic novel. "Chapter Two", though originally slated to premiere at the end of 2023, was moved to 2024 for audience purposes (and for the ability of the cast to properly promote the film), the film has turned out to be a resounding success (again, both commercially and critically). The narrative picks up right after where the prior chapter had ended. Paul and his mother Lady Jessica, are continuing their path with the Fremen, after Paul has defeated one of theirs. The leader of the Fremen group, Stilgar, believes Paul may be the prophet that has been predicted to come according to the Fremen lore. Lady Jessica is put through a challenge of drinking the Water of Life, therefore also becoming the new Reverend Mother in the process (the Water also impacts the fetus she carries within her). This Water is a fatal poison for males and the untrained. While a part of the Fremen group believes in the lore, Chani and her friend Shishakli, believe the prophecy to be something fabricated, without actual relevance in their actual world and the challenges they face. Paul and Chani in the meantime fall in love, while Paul also becomes increasingly knowledgeable and adept of the Fremen's habits. In the meantime, the Harkonnen's are also in motion, with the Baron replacing his nephew Rabban with the younger and more ruthless Feyd-Rautha. Feyd-Rautha orders an attack on Northern Arrakis, forcing the Fremen, including Paul, Chani, Stilgar among others to move South to meet with the larger contingent of fighters located there. In the meantime, the Emperor who engineered the destruction of the House Atreides', suspects Paul is still alive, and that in itself can be an enormous challenge to his ruling. Paul drinks the Water of Life, and everything starts to dramatically change after that. 
"Dune: Chapter Two" is a film that remarkably excels across a variety of levels that Denis Villeneuve and his creative team set out to fulfill. On one hand it's a deftly executed political allegory, one that illustrates that no sacrifices are too big to stay in power, or at least influence the direction of power. It's also a very pertinent illustration of the unbridled lust for political and economical power, and how that blinds the sense of humanity that inherently exists within individuals. On a smaller scale it's also a genuine love story between two individuals with different backgrounds, who while recognizing their differences, upbringings, and points of view, still have a communion of soul, based on who they are and where they've met in life. And finally it's also a rather interesting take on the power of belief, of creed, and how that in reality can move hordes and change the fate of so many (and in this case of an entire planet). It's a richly layered narrative, where there's a variety of characters who impart some influence on the main narrative, all of which are ripe with interesting key plot points, but that director chooses not to spend so much time with, since the film is ultimately an illustration of Paul's journey, and how his journey morphs with Chani's and the planet Arrakis itself (and finally the entire Galaxy which has been presented to the audience, and in which all these characters exist). These interesting but brief plot points, while adding to the context that is being built, also leave some of these characters somewhat underdeveloped, which is where the film falters a bit. The director chooses to spend time on the relationship that is blooming between Paul and Chani, and those other narrative aspects of the film end up losing some needed attention, but nonetheless, the way the momentum is kept and how all these threads merge into a coherent and exciting narrative is remarkably well done. Visually the film is impeccably crafted, continuing the remarkable aesthetic that had already been constructed for the first chapter. The entire production team is flawless, starting with the entire cast who uniformly creates compelling and memorable characters, particularly Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Charlotte Rampling. The cinematography by Greig Fraser, score by Hans Zimmer, production design by Patrice Vermette and costumes by Jacqueline West are all equally remarkable. It's a nearly flawless film worth watching and savoring.