Movie Review – Dune: Part Two


Dune: Part Two does more than complete the Paul Atreides story. It also fleshes out Frank Herbert’s grimmest message.

Dune: Part Two Review: 7 thumbs-up and 1 thumbs-down
Snappy Movie Review | Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two Synopsis

Paul Atreides joins Stilgar’s Fremen warriors and wages guerilla war on House Harkonnen, while Lady Jessica ingests the deadly Water of Life and becomes the new Reverend Mother of the desert people. Though largely successful in their campaigns, Paul hesitates to engage the fundamentalist Fremen tribes of Southern Arrakis, knowing through visions that doing so would ignite a holy war in his name. Incensed by the many raids and Rabban’s inability, Baron Harkonnen dispatches his psychotic younger nephew, Feyd-Rautha, to deal with Paul.

Snappy Review

I watched this concluding episode about three Fridays ago and to prepare for it, I forced myself to finish reading Frank Herbert’s book. In doing so, finally completed what I set out to do some 30-odd years ago.

It wasn’t an easy read for me. With all due respect, Dune’s premise never interested me and anyway, I already “know” the story from watching the older movies and series.

That being said, reading the novel does affirm the incredible accomplishments of Denis Villeneuve’s cinematic adaptations. Made me realise what made the two-parter so great, too.

Story edits and condensations considered, Villeneuve’s adaptation deftly strikes the balance between action and rhetoric, mysticism and philosophy. Let’s be honest here, Arrakis is hardly the most visually intriguing planet in the sci-fi genre; desert planets have also been done to death by other pop franchises. Herbert’s renowned suppression of future tech in Dune furthermore forbids any attempt to use flashy weapons and dazzling light effects—the staple of sci-fi—to court audience attention.

But with sweeping cinematography and careful doses of introspection, mystery, and action. With Hans Zimmer’s foreboding, almost seismic soundtrack constantly reminding not just the threat of Arrakis but also the dooming stagnancy of mankind, Villeneuve weaves a majestic conclusion that embodies the grimest message of the Dune saga. That of the need for a galactic catastrophe to reboot humanity.

Everything in the three-hour run leads to that one grim declaration by Paul Atreides. “Lead them to paradise.” This is not an attempt to intensify the fanaticism of his fundamentalist followers. It is a tragic acknowledgment by the reluctant messiah of the disaster he is destined to spearhead. A summation of the fate he was born for and for which the entire tale is all about.

Coming to the man behind that reluctant messiah, i.e., Timothée Chalamet, I feel he injected a contradiction into the Paul Atreides persona, one that certain Herbert fans might require a lot of convincing to love. Despite all the epic wormriding and guerrilla action, not once did his Paul feel heroic to me, let alone messianic. (He came across as rather frail in the climactic dagger fight too) The punctuating moments of authoritative fury and cold introspection then work in tandem with this impression to complete the picture of a character who chooses to embrace ruthlessness, and self-fulfilled prophecies, to achieve spiritual liberation for all.

The supporting cast put up praiseworthy performances too. Zendaya’s fiercely independent Chani, while a revision, will surely appeal to modern generations. Elvis’, I mean Austin Butler’s Feyd-Rautha is a little too nutty and too uncharismatic to me. But as far as enlivening the middle chapters of Dune: Part Two, I feel Butler did an admirable job.

Christopher Walken’s Shaddam IV … how to put it? Some reviews criticised Walken for being way too sedated, rather lacking the tyrannical, imperial authority that Shaddam IV ought to represent. I don’t know. Yes, he feels a little too restrained but then again, that goes with the detail of Shaddam IV being emotionally broken by his role in Leto Atreides’ death, doesn’t it?

The emperor’s overt weariness when kissing Paul’s ring seems to suggest that he, too, has accepted the inevitable demise of his empire.

Watch the trailer here.

Dune: Part One review

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