Sunday, March 17, 2024

Dune-Part Two


Based on the novel by Frank Herbert, Dune-Part Two is the sequel to the 2021 film adaptation that follows Paul Atrides forming an alliance with the Fremen along with his mother and others from House Atrides to fight back against the forces of House of Harkonnen for the control of the planet Arrakis while there is some scheming behind the scenes from political forces in the universe. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and screenplay by Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts, the film follows the second part of Herbert’s epic novel as it plays into a young man accepting his fate and role as a leader in order to free the people who had been enslaved in their own home planet. Starring Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler, Souhelia Yacoub, Florence Pugh, Lea Seydoux, Stellan Skarsgard, and Christopher Walken as Emperor Shaddam IV. Dune-Part Two is an astonishing and gripping film from Denis Villeneuve.

Following the fall of House Atrides on Arrakis in the hands of House of Harkonnen, the film follows the aftermath in which Paul Atrides (Timothee Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) join the Fremen in an act to reclaim the planet with other allies while also uncovering a conspiracy involving the Emperor Shaddam IV as well as revelations about Paul’s roles for the Fremen. It is a film that explores a young man who doesn’t just deal with loss but also a role that he is unprepared for as some see him as a messiah that would help the Fremen but the forces that oppose him become more uneasy as the Emperor as well Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard) deal with what he might bring. The film’s screenplay by Denis Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts definitely plays into Paul Atrides’ reluctance to be the messianic figure but also visions that he keeps seeing as he struggles with what might bring and such with his mother believing in this prophecy about Paul as she is also pregnant as she would rise into power of her own.

The first act plays into the Atrides being invited to the Fremen by its leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem) despite the fact that they’re outsiders yet Stilgar sees Paul as someone who could be this figure that could lead the Fremen into reclaiming control of Arrakis based on a prophecy that he believes in as Lady Jessica chooses to play into it when their ailing reverend mother is asking Jessica to replace her. Upon drinking the Water of Life, Jessica awakens her unborn daughter Alia whom she would communicate with as they decide to play into the prophecy and win over skeptics giving Stilgar more allies despite the skepticism of Chani (Zendaya) who believes that the prophecy is a lie created by religious fanatics. Still, Chani helps Paul in teaching him the way of the Fremen as they become lovers though Paul remains troubled by visions about him being this messianic figure while he helps in the rebellion against the Harkonnen who would be overwhelmed once Paul’s mentor Gurney Helleck (Josh Brolin) joins the fold having become a smuggler.

The second act serves as an introduction to the baron’s nephew Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) whom the baron would bring in to replace his older brother Glossu Rabban (Dave Bautista) who had failed to keep spice production going on due to the Fremen. Feyd-Rautha is a psychotic figure that proves to be just as dangerous as both his brother and uncle as he is observed by a Bene Gesserit maiden in Lady Margot Fenring (Lea Seydoux) for the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling). It is in the second act where Gurney is re-introduced as he would learn about Paul’s actions as he joins the Fremen despite not believing in the prophecy as Paul becomes more troubled by the expectations of the Fremen just as the conflict with them and the Harkonnens intensify due to Feyd-Rautha’s new leadership. Paul would learn about the Emperor’s involvement as Princess Irulan Corrino (Florence Pugh) believes that Atrides is alive as she begins to question her father’s motives into the attack of House Atrides. It would all lead to revelations in its third act as well as a lot of political scheme and fanaticism with Chani becoming more troubled into the role that Paul has to play.

Villeneuve’s direction is grand in the way he presents this world of intergalactic conflict with a planet filled with sand as spice being the center of the universe as well as the source of this conflict. With scenes of Arrakis shot on location in Jordan and Abu Dhabi with additional scenes shot on location in Budapest, Villeneuve opens with Princess Irulan narrating about the events in her journal as she sees her father becoming troubled by what happened although the princess believes that Paul Atrides is alive. Much of Villeneuve’s direction includes a lot of wide and medium shots to play into the scope of the locations as well as maintain a sense of intimacy in scenes involving character interaction. Yet, the caverns, mountains, and cliffs do serve as major characters as it is a place where the Fremen live in hiding with a pool of water filled with the Fremen who have died. Villeneuve brings a sense of intrigue as well as the world that explore those who believe in this prophecy that Lady Jessica would exploit upon drinking the Water of Life as her unborn daughter would help play into this exploitation as she would later appear as an adult in one of Paul’s visions.

The dreams that Paul would have are these abstract and surreal visuals that showcase not just Paul’s fears of the future but also what it could be as it all plays into his reluctance into being this messiah for the Fremen. While Lady Jessica would able to get the reach of fanatical fundamentalists to support Stilgar’s cause against the Harkonnens and the emperor, Villeneuve does reveal a whole lot more as it plays into the fallacies of power with the emperor becoming someone who is losing influence on all of these houses as it becomes a source of contention he would have towards House Atrides. Villeneuve also plays into this sense of thrill as it relates to the sandworms that the Fremen are known for riding as it is something Paul would master and gain the respect of the Fremen as he would also learn how to travel towards south of the planet as it is a place that the Harkonnens couldn’t reach because of its sandstorms. Villeneuve also plays into this intrigue into the introduction of Feyd-Rautha as well as the Harkonnens’ home planet where it is shot largely in black-and-white as it is a stylistic choice but one that showcases why the baron favors him.

The film’s third act is about this eventual confrontation between the Fremen against the Harkonnens and the forces led by the emperor as the latter two would be unprepared for what they would face. Yet, there is a lot more happening as the Harkonnens meet with the emperor as there is not only this power struggle between the two but also other things that the princess would discover that would make her uneasy over this conflict. Even as the climax that involves Paul confronting his enemies as it would also lead to some uneasy compromises that would affect many as it also plays into what power corrupts and how those who engineer schemes and conspire are forced to watch their own fallacies but also face the actions of something much bigger that they unknowingly played a role in. Overall, Villeneuve crafts a riveting and astronomical film about a young man seeking revenge as well as becoming a messianic figure for a group of people in reclaiming their home planet.

Cinematographer Grieg Fraser does incredible work with the film’s cinematography from the stylish usage of black-and-white for the Feyd-Rautha fight at the Harkonnen’s home planet to the usage of sunlight for many of the exteriors and scenes in the cave along with usage of available light for some of the scenes in the morning as it is a highlight of the film. Editor Joe Walker does brilliant work with the editing with its stylish usage of jump-cuts, slow-motion, and rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense and action as well as some of the surreal montages in the film. Production designer Patrice Vermette, with supervising art director Tom Brown plus set decorators Zsuzsanna Sipos and Shane Vieu, does amazing work the look of the water pool inside the Fremen’s cave as well as the home of the fundamentalists and the design of the places at the Harkonnen home planet. Costume designer Jacqueline West does excellent work with the costumes from the ragged and sandy clothes that the Fremen wears as well as the clothes that Lady Jessica wears when she becomes a Reverend Mother for the Fremen and the clothes of Princess Irulan.

Hair/makeup/prosthetics designer Donald Mowat does fantastic work with the look of the Harkonnens in their pale-white skin as well as the makeup that Lady Jessica wears as the Reverend Mother. Special effects supervisor Gerd Nefzer and visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert do sensational work with the visual effects in the design of the sand worms in using prosthetics and CGI as well as the design of some of the weapons used in battles as well as the devices for Baron Harkonnen as he floats. Sound editor Richard King and sound designer Dave Whitehead do phenomenal work with the sound in the way some of dialogue is presented in Paul and Lady Jessica communicate in silence as well as the effects for some of the devices as well as the way the sand worms emerge as it is a highlight of the film. The film’s music by Hans Zimmer is tremendous for its usage of bombastic orchestral arrangements along with synthesizers and snarling guitars as it adds to the sense of chaos throughout the film that also include these wailing vocals that features work from Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance while music supervisors Peter Afterman, Deric Berberabe, Alison Litton, and Carmen Murlaner add some ambient and electronic pieces as the whole music soundtrack and score is another highlight of the film.

The casting by Francine Maisler is superb as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Roger Yuan and Babs Olusanmokun reprising their roles as two House Atrides officers who are forced to fight Feyd-Rautha as well as Souhelia Yacoub as Chani’s friend Shishakli who is also a skeptic over the prophecy, Dave Bautista in a superb role as Feyd-Rautha’s older brother Glossu Rabban who becomes overwhelmed by the Fremen attacks, and Lea Seydoux in a terrific small role as a Bene Gesserit nun in Lady Margot Fenring who seduces Feyd-Rautha in order to observe him in the hopes he can take down the Fremen. Christopher Walken is fantastic as Emperor Shaddam IV as the leader of the universe who was one of the figureheads in the attack of House Atrides as he copes with his fading leadership but also new threats as Walken is surprisingly restrained considering that the character could’ve been a bit more camp.

Charlotte Rampling is excellent as the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam who is also a mentor to Princess Irulan as well as someone who has played a key role in the attack of House Atrides as she sees Paul as major threat as well as displaying a sense of ambiguity over what is to come. Stellan Skarsgard is brilliant as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen as the head of House Harkonnen who is eager to take advantage of controlling Arrakis yet becomes troubled by the Fremen rebellion as well as who is leading them. Josh Brolin is amazing as Gurney Halleck as Paul’s mentor and former military leader for House Atrides as he had become a smuggler as he would aid Paul in this rebellion yet is not fond of this religious fanaticism but chooses to stay silent as an act of loyalty towards Paul. Javier Bardem is incredible as Stilgar as the Fremen leader who sees Paul as this messianic figure based on a prophecy as he becomes a mentor and later be someone who would gather many allies believing that it would help the Fremen.

Rebecca Ferguson is sensational as Lady Jessica Atrides as a Bene Gesserit nun who becomes a Reverend Mother for followers in Arrakis as she would help gather many followers in playing up this prophecy as she brings an ambiguity into someone that would gain power but also at the extent of her son’s well-being and humanity. Austin Butler is great as Feyd-Rautha as Baron Harkonnen’s youngest nephew who is this psychotic figure that is beloved by the people in his planet as a skilled fighter as well as someone who is eager to prove him to himself as a leader where he finds a formidable opponent in Paul as Butler definitely brings a lot of nuances to the character but also an unexpected humanity that makes him unique. Florence Pugh is tremendous as Princess Irulan Corrino as the emperor’s daughter who records in her journal over what happened at Arrakis while believing that Paul is alive as she begins to question into what had happened and why where she also questions the motives of both her father and her mentor in Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam.

Zendaya is spectacular as Chani as a Fremen rebel who is becomes Paul’s lover while is also troubled by people making him into a messiah as she is the film’s moral compass as someone who gets to know Paul as a human being but also is forced to watch him accept a role he doesn’t want but needs to play. Finally, there’s Timothee Chalamet in an astonishing performance as Paul Atrides as the son of that late Duke Leto Atrides who is eager to get revenge over what happened to his father but also learn about the ways of the Fremen. Chalamet’s performance also has a complexity of a man that becomes conflicted into the role he is asked to play where he also has to deal with surreal dreams and sacrifices where he would accept this role of rebellion but would also facing a future of immense uncertainty over what he might do.

Dune-Part Two is a magnificent film from Denis Villeneuve. Featuring a tremendous ensemble cast, ravishing visuals, a story of rebellion and the struggles of being a messiah, Hans Zimmer’s visceral score, and immense technical work. It is a film that isn’t just this great follow up to the 2021 film but also help book end the novel both films are based on as well as create a sci-fi epic that is willing to challenge audiences as well as showcase a world that is astonishing. In the end, Dune-Part Two is an outstanding film from Denis Villeneuve.

Denis Villeneuve Films: August 32nd on Earth - Maelstrom - Polytechnique - Incendies - Prisoners (2013 film) - Enemy (2013 film) - Sicario - Arrival (2016 film) - Blade Runner 2049 - Dune-Part One - (Dune: Messiah)

Related: Dune (1984 film) - Jodorowsky's Dune The Auteurs #68: Denis Villeneuve

© thevoid99 2024


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm glad you liked this too! Can't wait for part III, which I'm sure is still many years away.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-I did read a sypnosis on Dune: Messiah as I hope Denis Villeneuve does some unique changes to the narrative as there are going to be some interesting turns in that story.