“Dune: Part Two” on the Big Screen

#1 Dune2
Warner Bros. Pictures
BLUE STEEL: Zendaya (center) smolders as an alien freedom fighter in “Dune: Part Two,” the second half of the sci-fi epic.
Friday March 1, 2024 07:00 PM EST
Cost: $10-$13.50

For a film that won six Oscars and grossed more than $400 million, 2021’s Dune feels like a movie more respected than loved. Adapting the first half of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel, director Denis Villeneuve crafted a dense, lavishly-appointed depiction of palace intrigue with futuristic factions battling for control of the desert planet Arrakis. Compelling and technically impressive, Dune also proved surprisingly muted in both its visual sheen and its emotional content.

Dune: Part Two, opening March 1, improves on its predecessor by every measure. Villeneuve brings more passion, excitement, humor and thematic depth in adapting the novel’s second half. Did Villeneuve make the first movie more restrained so Dune: Part Two would hit harder? Or did the filmmaker correct his course following earlier critiques? Either way, Dune: Part Two’s sandy space opera engages both the heart and the head, telling a breathtaking escapist adventure that wrestles with challenging ideas.

When last we left Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), the aristocratic outworlders were two of the only survivors of an attack from the evil, greedy Harkonnens. The pair found sanctuary with a group of Fremen, Arrakis’ oppressed, desert-dwelling natives. Part Two takes up seemingly mere days after the first film ends as Paul works to win the Fremen’s respect. But some, like tribal leader Stillgar (a boisterous Javier Bardem), believe Paul could be the Fremen’s long-prophesied messiah, an idea that Jessica encourages to ensure her son’s safety.

The chilliness of the prior chapter gives way to warmer scenes as Paul, a capable but pampered rich kid, proves himself to the earthy Fremen, including young warrior Chani (Zendaya), who gradually falls in love with Paul despite her ambivalence about an outsider taking over their cause. Following the first film’s world-building and table-setting, Dune: Part Two has more room for thrilling action scenes of the low-tech Fremen outmaneuvering the Harkonnen’s shock-and-awe attacks. Greig Fraser’s cinematography shines like full daylight compared to the fog-of-war shadows of the predecessor.

Dune: Part Two’s derring-do has a moral weight that’s sharply different from, say, Luke Skywalker fighting the Empire. Paul experiences visions of embracing his messianic role and launching a bloody jihad across the galaxy. Chalamet’s performance slowly builds across the two movies as Paul grows from tentative teenager to consciously theatrical rebel leader.

It’s easy to read the novel as a white savior narrative on an alien planet, but the script by Villeneuve and Jon Spaights emphasizes the ethics of Paul’s dilemma. Is exploiting the Fremen’s belief system justifiable in fighting the planet’s brutal colonizers? Is Paul right to fear that absolute power will corrupt him absolutely? Chani emerges as the conscience of the film, with Zandaya movingly conveying the young woman’s divided emotions.

The film has occasional pacing issues, particularly when, an hour through, the perspective shifts for an extremely drawn-out introduction of Feyd-Rautha (Elvis’ Austin Butler), a charismatic Harkonnen heir built up late in the game as a rival to Paul. Fortunately Dune: Part Two resolves with a gigantic set-piece that, unlike most contemporary blockbusters, is not numbingly protracted.

Without spoiling any details, I’ll say that Dune: Part Two’s finale brings the story to a highly satisfying resolution that’s open-ended enough to leave you craving a continuation. It’s uncertain whether Villeneuve will go on to adapt Herbert’s sequel novel, Dune Messiah, but Warner Brothers would be foolish not to sign him up. Dune: Part Two operates on a level that leaves other epic fantastical films in the dust. — Curt Holman

From the venue:

DUNE: PART TWO Playing on the Big Screen at Aurora Cineplex

Premieres Thur., Feb. 29, at 7:00 p.m. with more shows Fri., March 1 week! Tickets on sale at Fandango.com

Experience the film in our Luxury Heated Recliner seats. Share this action packed epic thriller with friends and family on the Big Screen!

Area 51: Aurora Cineplex and The Fringe Miniature Golf
5100 Commerce Parkway, Roswell, GA 30076

Follow us at: https://linktr.ee/auroracineplex

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