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El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

“Dune: Part Two” raises the bar for the sci-fi genre

Director Denis Villeneuve’s long awaited sequel innovates with breathtaking visuals
Chani, played by Zendaya, embraces Paul, played by Timothée Chalamet. Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

After the sci-fi film “Dune” — a movie adaptation based on the “Dune” novel franchise — released in 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many were unsure if a sequel was ever going to be produced due to the state of Hollywood movies and box-office reception during the pandemic. However, due to the raging success of the first film both in theaters and on the streaming platform Max, a sequel was confirmed. While the film was initially supposed to be released in November of 2023, it was pushed much further due to Hollywood’s SAG-AFTRA strikes. After four months, Warner Bros. Pictures theatrically released the film “Dune: Part Two” on March 1, 2024. 

The film begins immediately where its predecessor left off, following son and mother duo Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and Jessica Atreides (Rebecca Ferguson) after their newly formed alliance with the Fremen, the people of the spice-harvesting planet Arrakis. Paul forms a relationship with Freman Chani (Zendaya), a woman who shows up in his recurring visions, as she trains him to become one with the Fremen to avenge his family, the house of Atreides. Simultaneously, the rival house Harkonnen — led by the Baron (Stellan Skarsgård), his nephew Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista) and newcomer Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) — continues to attack Arrakis for its spice. While dealing with rising tensions among their people, the Fremen prepare to face off against the Harkonnens in a multi-galactic war.

Characters Jessica, Chani, Stillgar and Paul played by Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem and Timothée Chalamet, prepare for battle in the Arrakis desert. Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

“Dune: Part 2” transports the audience right into the gleaming orange, spice-enriched deserts of Arrakis, as viewers find Paul and Jessica fighting for their lives against Harkonnen soldiers. The film provides a minimal recap of the previous film, “Dune,” which was heavy with exposition and world-building as it introduced the conflicts between the various empires. To a certain extent, the film expects the audience to be caught up on all of the lore from the previous film, putting newcomers to the Dune franchise at a disadvantage. However, for original fans, the film wastes no time on unnecessary repetition of old plotlines and utilizes its 160-minute runtime to the fullest. 

In “Dune: Part 2,” director Denis Villeneuve once again teams up with cinematographer Greig Frasier, whom he worked with on the previous film. To say that Frasier has composed some of the most beautiful shots in recent cinema history is an understatement. The film utilizes scale to emphasize the enormity of the numerous worlds portrayed in the film. The powerful shot composition pays immense attention to detail in each world, from the alluring deserts of Arrakis to the thrilling battle arenas of House Harkonnen and even the backs of sandworms, a method of transportation in Arrakis and a beautifully visualized part of the film. The visual effects are impeccable, emphasizing the immersive experience of the movie.

Graphic by Sagnik Nag Chowdhury

Furthermore, sound design plays a large role in the film, complemented by a mesmerizing score by Hans Zimmer to create a strong auditory experience. The sound effects and background score bounce off of each other to enhance both soothing, heartfelt moments and heart-pounding action scenes. On an IMAX screen, where the movie is intended to be seen, the shaking seats during intense scenes create a captivating theatrical experience, producing a sensory overload in the best manner possible. 

Many fans complained that the first film did not have enough action or exciting moments, and in response, Villeneuve said, “Hold my beer.” The film contains a healthy balance of large-scale fighting scenes and precise and gripping hand-to-hand combat scenes. Many scenes containing large ships and explosions, especially for battles between the Fremen and the Harkonnens, are a sight to see on the big screen. On the other hand, we get unique fight scenes that are simplistic and stylish, with a final fight scene between Paul and Feyd-Rautha being one of the most memorable combat sequences in recent memory. 

The use of color plays a large role in the movie as well, contributing to Villeneuve’s attention to detail. The stark contrasts between the bright yellow and orange tones of the desert and the dark, grayscale tones of the Harkonnen empire are elegantly portrayed on screen, helping viewers understand where they are. On top of that, a recurring theme of the color blue representing life, whether it be through seas, the blue eyes of the Fremen, or the blue “Water of Life” that serves importance in the story, comes to fruition.

Feyd-Rautha, played by Austin Butler, mercilessly kills one of his opponents on the Harkonnen battlefield. Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

The film shines technically, but it doesn’t falter in any other aspects. Writers Denis Villeneuve and John Spaihts take worldbuilding to a whole new level, introducing us to a wide array of new settings and characters. The story simultaneously breaks new ground with new characters such as the antagonists, Feyd-Rautha and the leaders of House Harkonnen, while also going more in-depth into pre-existing characters like Paul, Jessica and Chani, who is especially important as it satisfies many fans who complained that she had limited screen time in the first film. The complexities of all these characters are unraveled in their character development in such a simple but essential way, all while the plot moves forward seamlessly. No specific subplot is glossed over or spent too much time on, especially the romance plotline with Chani and Paul, which is the cherry on top of the emotional aspect of the film.

“Dune: Part Two” offers many career-defining performances, from both the supporting and main characters. With so much depth given to each character, every single cast member demonstrates control over their characters and shines on screen, specifically the lead trio: Timothée Chalamet, Austin Butler and Zendaya. Chalamet allows the audience to see Paul in his moments of power but also his moments of vulnerability, which he beautifully displays during two of his powerful monologues in the third act. Zendaya portrays a range of emotions to portray her character, Chani, in-depth, most notably her soft side seen in her chemistry with Chalamet. Last but not least, new addition Austin Butler portrays one of the best villains put on screen, with an unsettling demeanor and unique dialect that bodes well with his character’s Harkonnen heritage. 

Overall, “Dune: Part Two” doesn’t miss in any aspect, and has something for fans and haters of the first film alike. With breathtaking visuals, state-of-the-art visual effects, profound performances and a strong storyline, the movie proves Denis Villeneuve to be one of the best directors of the time and sets up the “Dune” franchise to be as iconic as the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, making for one of the best sci-fi movies of all time.


About the Contributor
Sagnik Nag Chowdhury
Sagnik Nag Chowdhury, Opinion Editor
Sagnik Nag Chowdhury is currently a junior and an opinion editor for El Estoque. In his free time, he likes watching TV, biking with his friends, trying new foods and discovering new places in Cupertino.
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