New Film ‘Dune, Part 2’ Is A Must-See, Epic Movie Masterpiece


It’s time to say it. Dune, Part 2 is a masterpiece. Although I did enjoy the first movie, its abrupt ending annoyed me. It was several hours of subtle moves, ending with Prince Paul of the House of Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), a member of the super-secret Bene Gesserit cult, running for their lives and meeting up with a group called Fremen on the desert planet of Arrakis. And that planet is the only place in the universe where melange, a spice that allows space travel, long life and seeing the future, along with quick addiction, is produced.

This second film is different. There is plenty of action, enough for several very good movies. It starts off exactly where the first one ends. Paul meets Chani (Zendaya), a Fremen woman he has dreamed of for years, and he and his mother join up with her group, led by Stilgar (Javier Bardem). Paul faces many challenges, including riding the giant sandworms that roam the desert and provide the spice. But Stilgar believes that Paul will lead a great insurrection. Lady Jessica encourages that notion because she believes her son is the intended leader of a new order, but while joining in rites, drinks a poison that will provide memories of all the Fremen women leaders. Unfortunately, she is also pregnant, and we have the weird experience of hearing the daughter in her womb talking directly to her.

Things move onto a bigger stage as the evil Harkonnans show up. They include the overly large Baron Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgård), his nasty nephew Rabban (Dave Bautista) and most vital, his psycho nephew Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler). As the Fremen conquer Arrakis, the Emperor (Christopher Walken) and his sharp daughter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) bring all the forces of the empire against them. The battle scenes are brilliant.

Although some critics have argued that the whole thing is a glorification of the rise of a dictator, we actually see Paul fighting to avoid a messianic role. He would prefer a quiet life with Chani, but there are forces pushing hard for him to lead a revolution, one that will eventually cost millions of lives. Director Denis Villeneuve is wise enough to allow us to see that there may be many choices, and some may prove horrible.

The cast is superb. Chalamet has grown into the role. In the first movie, he was simply a kid forced to grow and face hard truths about life. Now, a bit older and more mature, he makes key decisions. Ferguson is strong as Lady Jessica, but the standout in the cast has to be Austin Butler. His Feyd-Rautha is a true monster. He was another possible leader in the Bene Gesserit plan, and there are more than a few people who would be thrilled to follow a monster. Bardem gets a lot more to do than in the first film, as Paul’s first religious follower. While presenting himself as smart and moderate, we can see the fanaticism rising. Both Walken and Pugh are good. They are new to the Dune universe and probably signify that they will be in a future Dune 3.

This is an epic story from the mind of master writer Frank Herbert. It mixes family, loyalty, vengeance, spirituality, conquest and fate. And it does it through the characters, not through narration. That makes it stronger. The action scenes are so well done, it’s easy to forget that most of it is computer generated. The screen gets filled with enormous, exciting images. This is a movie made for IMAX. But action alone would not carry the movie if the characters and ideas were not strong. Yes, you will feel you were actually in a desert by the time the movie ends. But the details are so vivid: the immense landscapes, the sandworms, even draining the water from the bodies of slain enemies and friends because it is so scarce, add up. Yes, you can understand the desert better, but you stay interested because the characters are so interesting and vivid.

This is a sci-fi masterpiece. It will rank with movies like Star Wars and Avengers Endgame. If you like this genre, do not miss it. Even if you simply like brilliant movies, this one is for you. It took many months last year to get to the really brilliant films. This year, we got one on the first day of March.