Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Dune part 2 - Movie Review

The Movie: Dune part 2

The Director: Denis Villeneuve

The Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, Souheila Yacoub, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Javier Bardem.

The Story: Paul Atreides unites with Chani and the Fremen while seeking revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family.

The Rating: 7.5 / 10

The Review:
If you've seen the first movie, you've pretty much seen this new one also. The story pretty much rehashes the basic outline but going back the other direction in a way. No spoilers here so I can't really go into detail of what I mean but if you know the story and/or have read the book(s), you get the idea. One thing I will say because it's out there and not any type of secret is that there will be a Dune part 3 and, just like the first movie, this one doesn't really end as much as it just stops in a sort of cliffhanger fashion although it wasn't a big shocking moment, you just kind of expected it.

If I wanted to, I could probably copy big chunks of my review for the first movie and paste it into this one because I felt like I had pretty much the exact same experience. Visually, the movie is stunning and that's by far the best thing it has going for it, the cast is top notch, and the action sequences are the eye popping spectacle you expect them to be. The issue I have with both films is, in each, there is about an hour's worth of story stretched out to fit a nearly three hour run time and I felt every minute of it.

For me, the story isn't interesting enough to take such a long, slow burn approach, just get to it already. To each their own, I guess. I really enjoyed the deliberate pacing of The Eternals maybe because I'm much more of a Marvel fan than I ever have been of this franchise. I've never read the books and I barely remember the 1984 version that starred Kyle MacLachlan so the in-depth world building and acknowledgements of history don't have any relevance for me. If you are a fan of these stories, you will have a much greater appreciation for these movies than I do.

One thing that was very intriguing to me is the alternate take on the Messiah story, most famously used in Christianity but something that's been utilized over and over in our history, and how it leans much heavier into being a revenge tale a la Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds with author Frank Herbert asking what if Jesus didn't sacrifice himself for humanity and instead started a holy war for the ages. Director Denis Villeneuve takes a much deeper look at this aspect of the story than he did in the first, which makes sense because part 1 was really just laying the groundwork for all of that to take shape.

Javier Bardem does a great job of playing the religious fanatic, reminiscent of how Laurence Fishburn's Morpheus had such an unwavering devotion to the idea that Neo was The One in The Matrix, and as someone who would lead the spreading of the word to the masses that Timothée Chalamet's Paul Atreides character is indeed the chosen one as well. This also leads to the question of whether Paul is a protagonist or an antagonist in the overall narrative although maybe we'll have to wait for part 3 to see how that plays out.

I mentioned earlier that the cast is top notch and stacked with A-listers across the board with Zendaya of course leading the way. She's currently in that sweet spot of her career where she can do no wrong no matter what she does and I'm enjoying every moment of getting to see her amazing talents on display. And if that also means we get to see more of her cute relationship with Tom Holland with all the media coverage then so be it as well. I'm here for it.

Newcomers to the cast include Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, and Christopher Walken who are all more than capable in their roles except that it's always hard to see Walken as the character he's playing, I always just see him playing a character, if that makes sense. Him being in the movie took me out of that world in the same way Matt Damon did when he popped up in Interstellar. Not a terrible thing but it was hard to stay engaged when my brain is recalling Pulp Fiction and Saturday Night Live.

As you can tell, I'm pretty conflicted about this movie which is actually a good thing because it's better than complete apathy. There is a lot to like and there's some things that bugged me and the story is just so drawn out it's hard to stay engaged. I feel like my opinions are going to be in the minority with this movie. I'm sure a lot of people are going to enjoy it and the movie will have major success at the box office. The thing I do like is the attempt to create a dramatic science fiction story that isn't just explosions and action for the sake of doing that stuff. I just hope you're able to enjoy the movie more than I did.

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