4 March 2024

Dune: Part 2 is among the best sci-fi movies ever put to screen

| Jarryd Rowley
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Timothee Chalamet and Austin Butler battle it out for the future of Arrakis in Dune: Part 2

Dune: Part 2 will be talked about as one of the best films of the year, says Jarryd Rowley. Photo: Warner Bros.

Finally, finally! 2024 has given cinema-goers something to write home about.

It’s fair to say that there have been some disappointing releases so far this year. I was beginning to forget how to even write a positive review. Thankfully, Denis Villeneuve has brought to us what might be the best sci-fi movie since the original Blade Runner in Dune: Part 2.

Like the first film released in 2021, Dune: Part 2 follows Paul Attredius and his quest to avenge the massacre of his family house by recruiting the native people of Arrakis, the planet he has been sent to govern. Unlike the first film, there is far less talking and a lot more action, as this film adapts the second half of the Frank Herbert novel from 1965.

While most critics and general audiences loved the first film, myself included, there were some complaints that the film moved too slowly. Too many characters are introduced, too many tracking shots of landscapes, and too many quiet moments with complicated dialogue. While this was fair criticism in some respects, all of the facts needed to be laid out to deliver the absolute spectacle in Part 2.

The setup of Part 1 is done, we now know the characters and their motivations, and we now know what’s at stake. The chess pieces were placed on the board in Part 1 so the game could begin in Part 2 and good heavens, was the game brilliant!

From the first couple of scenes of the film, I could tell this was something special.

Picking up minutes after the end of the first film, Paul and his mother Jessica have joined the local Fremen people but are ambushed by the Harkonens, the House that killed Paul’s family. The reason I highlight this scene is because it quickly informs audiences of what’s to come. Paul and Jessica are out of their element on this sand planet while the Fremen have lived there for millennia. The Fremen make quick work of their invaders with tactics similar to guerilla warfare.

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The direction and cinematography of scenes like this elevate it to more than just a typical action scene. Villeneuve is an incredibly clever filmmaker; his use of one cut takes means the action or in some cases lack of action, is always on screen. It is something to marvel at. There are no quick cuts that cause the action to become confusing or disorienting; it is all in camera and it is glorious!

I am good at picking how a scene is shot. So when a scene involving a massive sandworm took place (I won’t spoil what happens) and I couldn’t come close to figuring out how it was put together, my jaw dropped before quickly moving into a massive wide-eyed grin.

The editing and sound design help elevate the cinematography, making it one of the best looking and sounding movies ever, benefiting from the fact it was shot with an IMAX camera.

The cast is also stacked with each member bringing their A-game. Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Florence Pugh, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgard, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista and even Christopher Walken all make appearances and for a lot of them, it’s their best work in years. The standout for me though was Austin Butler as the brutal Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen.

Despite how much praise I’ve given the film so far, I can see some viewers really disliking this film. Sci-fi isn’t for everyone and Dune is no different. There are a lot of religious themes, deep politics and story beats that some could consider leaning too closely toward a ‘white saviour’.

While I can understand why people could struggle with this, I do think the film does a decent job of showing the grey area of these issues, leading it to be more of a debate about politics, religion and war, and not a statement.

Dune: Part 2 is the Empire Strikes Back of this generation and if the next film – yes, there will be a third instalment – continues to deliver the highs of the first two, the trio will be talked about in the same vein as the original Star Wars trilogy and the Lord of the Rings as some of the greatest sci-fi/fantasy films of all time.

I encourage everyone who loves movies to see this film. It is high-budget filmmaking at its very best and I can’t wait to see it again in IMAX next week.

Original Article published by Jarryd Rowley on Riotact.

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