Dune: Part Two (Denis Villeneuve, 2024, USA/Canada/United Arab Emirates/Hungary/Italy/New Zealand/Jordan/Gambia)

Dune: Part Two is the biggest cinematic spectacle of 2024 so far, and an impressive achievement. Denis Villeneuve has proven himself in the league of large-scale commercial filmmakers who can deliver thought-provoking and idiosyncratic works - like Christopher Nolan. Despite being a major tentpole based on a preexisting IP, Dune: Part Two nevertheless feels like a Villeneuve film - the visual imagery alone harkens back to works like Enemy and Arrival, while thematically the film bears more than a few similarities to the director's cartel movie Sicario. He is a director interested in power and how power is maintained, and Dune is no exception.

Dune: Part Two is visually more expansive than the first film, and has more memorable set pieces. While the set pieces involving the sandworms are incredible, many unique visual set pieces in the film will be new experiences even for the most jaded filmgoers. While the first part of the franchise focused more on Paul Atreides' inner world, in this film the world opens up, and we have a firmer understanding of the stakes involved, as well as Atreides' somewhat reluctant rise to power. Added to this is his budding romance with Chani (Zendaya), and his rivalry with his cousin Feyd Rautha (Austin Butler).

Butler is one of the highlights of the film, a figure with sociopathic charisma who comes off as threatening and intriguing. He is the most memorable in an ensemble that is a who's who of young Hollywood, from Florence Pugh to Anya Taylor-Joy in a brief cameo. It seems almost a necessity that there will be a third installment in the Dune franchise, and the parallels between Part Two and The Empire Strikes Back are obvious. It will be interesting to see if Villeneuve can maintain the standard of quality of the first two films.



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