Dune 2 Is A Cinematic Triumph Of Epic Proportions

Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson excel in the all-star cast of Denis Vileneuve's sci-fi epic 'Dune 2'.

Dune 2 Is A Cinematic Triumph Of Epic Proportions

Image: Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve’s second instalment of the Dune saga, a whirlwind adaptation to Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel of the same name, is a fever dream that stuns and excites, bound by the thunderous soundtrack from returning composer Hans Zimmer that sinks its audience within the enduring sands of the desert planet of Arrakis.

In a word, Dune 2 is a masterpiece.

We re-enter the expansive and unforgiving world that Villeneuve has created immediately after the curtains close on the opening act. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), the Duke of Arrakis, is left to lick his wounds after escaping the siege on his royal house by the Harkonnen: the slimy Baron Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgård) and his maniacal nephews, Beast Rabban and Feyd-Rautha, played by Dave Bautista and Austin Butler.

Image: Warner Bros.

Paul has found refuge amongst the Fremen, the native tribespeople that live amongst the sands of Arrakis with his Bene Gesserit mother (Rebecca Ferguson) and learns quickly he must assimilate to survive.

At first, the young Duke’s presence caused tensions amongst the Fremen; for some, such as the enigmatic leader Stilgar, played by the jovial Javier Bardem, he was the realisation of a centuries-old prophecy, a messianic leader that emerges from the outer world; for others, he’s nothing more than a foreigner lost in a barren land.

The first part of Dune 2 explores Paul’s coming-of-age in the desert, learning to walk the sands like a Fremen and not the drunk toddler that the Fedaykin, Chani, played by Zendaya, believes he is. As Stilgar commits his life to training the young pretender, Paul must learn the ways of the sand people to survive… unfortunately for the young duke, that involves riding a colossal “Grandfather worm” that barrels through the dunes like an unforgiving freight train.

Image: Warner Bros.

Villeneuve’s space opera will likely draw comparisons with the iconic Star Wars ennealogy. Both series are set in a faraway galaxy, where opposing factions are seeking control, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. From the opening scenes in the sultry desert-scape to the explosive crescendo, Dune 2 is a tragic triumph; a cinematic spectacle that violently floors you throughout its 166-minute runtime dragging us through imperialism, religion, poverty and romance.

Timothée Chalamet will take the plaudits for his towering performance in the leading role, and rightly so; this isn’t the same Paul Atreides first seen in the first part of this story.

Of course, this is somewhat of a coming-of-age story for Paul, rising from a foreign ruler to Muad’Dib, the messianic liberator. Chalamet is transcendent as the young Duke hellbent on revenge, igniting fear and reverence amongst the people who once made up his royal family’s sprawling empire to avenge his father’s death.

Image: Warner Bros.

But it’s Rebecca Ferguson’s piercing portrayal as the propagandist Reverend Mother that steals the show; her sinister blue eyes perfectly capture her dark ascension to facilitate her son’s rise to power, spewing the very poison that she’s forced to drink in the opening scenes.

“Your father didn’t believe in revenge,” Paul’s mother says to him. “I do,” he replied.

The pair’s ominous path is a reflection of the film’s overarching lust for power amongst the dunes, as they both ascend within the ranks of the Fremen to fight off the prevailing threat from the Harkonnen and the Emporer.

One of the criticisms levelled against Denis Villeneuve’s first Dune instalment was that it felt as though it was no more than a 155-minute-long trailer for Dune 2.

But as the second act picks up immediately after the brutal events of the first, with the violent Harkonnen massacring House Atreides in the dead of night, the strength of Villeneuve’s conquering on-screen adaptation is in its effective storytelling, tying up loose ends from the first act whilst simultaneously pulling on emerging threads.

Image: Warner Bros.

Dune 2 wraps up the final moments of Frank Herbert’s original 1965 material with confidence and cinematic flair; Villeneuve is our wandering guide in the desert, leading the audience through the harsh transient sands of the Northern part of Arrakis with his signature lens. If he’s vying with Christopher Nolan for the best contemporary directors of our time, then this is Villeneuve’s Dark Knight trilogy.

From the epic introduction of Austin Butler’s haunting portrayal as the villainous Feyd-Rautha in the raucous arena to the vast travelling convoy of the planet’s litany of giant sandworms, the director cements his legacy as the master of scale.

With each passing frame, you truly feel as though you’re witnessing a distant war in a fairway cosmos set 20,000 years into the future, of a power struggle amongst flawed heroes all challenging for position. Denis Vileneuve’s Dune 2 is a gut-punch of a movie; it’s a masterpiece; a cinematic triumph of epic proportions.