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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘Dune: Part Two’ shakes the senses with this year’s biggest sci-fi masterclass

Amanda Riha

The old adage “go big or go home” has long been co-opted by Hollywood as its approach of choice for sequels. Rarely does it work as well as it does for “Dune: Part Two,” which expands upon its predecessor with a fulfilling epic that manages to leave a little room for more to follow.

“Part Two” continues the journey of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), the young patriarch of the once-powerful House Atreides. He spends much of the film grappling with the prophecy that he is the “One” — a messiah figure who will save the people of Arrakis, the sandy planet from which “Dune” earns its name — as the evil Harkonnen family seeks to control the galaxy’s spice trade.

His story is one of almost biblical proportions, based on the 1965 novel of the same name, and the film leans heavily into religious undertones with a massive scale like no other.

Director Denis Villeneuve returns to the planet Arrakis with the same acute care for detail and rhythm that first established the arid landscape almost three years ago. But where the first film devoted more time to explaining how the “Dune” universe came to be, “Part Two” gets right into the thick of it with one action set piece after another, culminating in almost three hours of pure spectacle.

While on the subject, the action has been refined to a degree where “meticulous” is an understatement. The combination of choreography and sound design works wonders, creating moments of tension that help smooth over the more dense political developments adapted directly from the book.

Where the first film occasionally falters in its embrace of more “tell” than “show,” the action in “Part Two” provides complete immersion and plot progression in equal measure.

The ensemble cast may just be one of the best put to screen in recent memory. Chalamet leans into Atreides’ young wit and slowly growing dark edge, improving his screen presence tremendously. Opposite him is Zendaya, who earns significantly more screen time in “Part Two” as Chani — a member of Arrakis’ native people, the Fremen, and a fast love interest to Atreides.

But the script affords her plenty of time to oppose the idea of Atreides as a prophesied hero, which creates a surprising amount of nuance around the “white savior” archetype that “Dunes”’s narrative centers on. Though the novel touches on the problematic notions of God-like power in the hands of one person, having Chani represent this hesitation creates engaging conflict between the two.

Javier Bardem also expands on his role as a leader among the Fremen, who celebrates Atreides’ arrival with open arms, contributing much to the film’s humor and later moments of grace.

Austin Butler’s new villain, Feyd-Rautha, works to wisely mimic Atreides’ arc in “Part One,” though with much more sinister intentions. Rebecca Ferguson rounds out the principal group with full command of the film’s most disturbing sequences as Lady Jessica, Atreides’ mother and the main proponent to his savior complex.

The cinematography somehow tops that of “Part One,” incorporating even more creative framing and one of the best lighting showcases there is. There are just so many shots that practically beg for behind-the-scenes explanations, with a particular sequence atop an extra-large sandworm that is cinematic icing on the cake.

Across the board, “Part Two” is the result of a creative team operating at the height of their craft. Each department’s work blends with the next, culminating in sequences that, when coupled with the scope of an IMAX presentation, are second to none.

The film still leaves some open threads for an inevitable third installment, which does take away a bit of the emotional bite in the final 20 minutes. It’s a largely nitpicky point, but complaints about “Part One”’s seemingly unfinished narrative still linger as the credits roll on “Part Two.”

Nevertheless, in the wake of 2023’s “Oppenheimer,” which almost literally blew the doors off the competition on the subject of cinematic immersion, “Dune: Part Two” serves a well-rounded return that promises a healthy future for blockbuster action. Seek this out on the biggest screen possible.

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About the Contributors
Jack Muscatello
Jack Muscatello, Digital Managing Editor
Amanda Riha
Amanda Riha, Design Editor

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