Dune 2 review: Jaw dropping visual spectacle that lacks emotional depth

Sakshi Sharma
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Dune 2 review

Dune 2 review

Dune 2 review: There is no doubt that this film is a cinematic masterpiece, with each frame exhibiting a visual brilliance, but the emotional lack of connection makes it a bit hard to sit through for 3 hours!

When it came back in 2021, Dune Part One offered a futuristic world so expansive and carefully thought through and crafted that book lovers and non-readers both became equally excited. From the centuries of war between the House Arteides and House Harkonnen, a religious order of the Bene Gesserit (the planners), the planet of Arrakis, indigenous Fremen (Desert people), and their faith in Mahdi (messiah), the importance of spice production (a magical substance), sandworms, water retention suits, and so much.

Dune Part Two takes the story further ahead, where after the fall of the House Arterides, Paul (Timothee Chalamet) and his pregnant mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), take refuge with the Fremen and help them attack the Harkonnen mining business of the spices. Stilgar (Javier Bardem), a believer in the prophecy, believes that Paul is their messiah. In contrast, Chani (Zendaya), a non-believer in the prophecy, starts to connect and get closer to Paul as he learns to live like the Fremens. As Lady Jessica and her daughter in the womb together plan to ascend Paul to the throne and make the prophecy come true, Paul deals with the dilemma of being a young boy and the burden of leading the masses and avenging his father's death. Somewhere else, the other Bene Gesserit is busy bringing out the plan b and preparing Paul's nemesis Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler). 

If Dune Part One was the ultimate exposition and entrance into the universe of Dune, the second part joins all the dots of the puzzle left to be solved in the previous. And it would not be highly advisable to go for Dune 2 if you have not experienced the first part. Denis Villeneuve's osncreen adapatation of Frank Herbert's fictional world is unlike any other supernatural, sci-fi, superhero films. It demands your full attention and doesn't take a cliche, above-the-surface level storytelling approach. Villeneuve is one of those filmmakers who is a stickler for the source material and patient enough to develop each detail intricately. Making him a 'Lisan al-gaib' for the lovers of Dune and SLB for Indians! 

Also Read: Decoding 10 fascinating outfits from Zendaya’s Dune 2 press tour!

But just as this film deals with the burden of the messiah leading the masses, Villeneuve carries that burden of bringing the vast universe alive on screen. And sometimes, expecting too much out of one man leads to not-so-great results. Don't get me wrong, Dune Part Two is a cinematic masterpiece; every moment is visually enthralling. The camera work and the CGI-VFX with that lamenting background score are jaw-dropping and eye-gluing, definitely to be witnessed on a big screen! But so much of the time is spent building the entire world with sandworm riding and monochromatic Harkonnen that the emotional strength and power of the characters take a little backseat. 

The dilemma of being a messiah that Paul has to deal with is so big; just like his visions, you realize how little he knows. But after he drinks the water of life (poison of the sandworm) to gain knowledge about his past and decides to become the messiah, given that the entire film depends upon this, the effect of it is so limited. The same goes for Feyd, a manic, ruthless killer who doesn't care about anyone or anything. He isn't given enough space to develop as an unbeatable villain, and the last battle between him and Paul is nothing like an enthralling piece between two heroes like Chalamet and Butler fighting each other would have created. Whether done intentionally or unintentionally, the entire film's explanation and revelation suffer through this minimal effect which lowers the bar of pleasure you can derieve from such a film! 

Also, the women in the film, Jessica and Chani, are strong women who carve their paths, and both seem to be somewhere a little lost or undermined amidst all this. But as an Indian, the tussle between faith and blind faith, the idea of a messiah to save the world, especially Fremen, and take the masses towards green paradise, how all this a plan created by the trained controller's Bene Gesserit hits much closer to home. Javier Bardem as Stilgar steals the show with his comic relief timing, whether intended to or not! 

As expected from the first part, the dust-covered desert, organish tinge, the veil covering costumes, a massive, exceptionally talented star cast, and more land a lasting impression on your mind. But you can only go far with breathtaking world buildings and visual aesthetics! I get that Villeneuve has a way of storytelling where he can transport you to a totally different world yet stay connected with the world we all live in, his commentary on geopolitics of the western colonising middle east, white man savior, religion is apt, layered, and not on-the-nose. But when you build a vast and complex world, even a minute lack of emotional connection can make the runtime of 3 hours even longer! And I, for one, am left in awe of the film, wishing to witness it in 4D to get more out of the effects, but nothing more, which wasn't the case with Dune Part One

Dune 2 is currently running in theatres! 

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Zendaya Dune Denis Villeneuve Austin Butler dune 2 timothee chalatmet