Can Denis Villeneuve Keep His Winning Streak with Dune: Part Two?

Can Denis Villeneuve Keep His Winning Streak with Dune: Part Two?

Photo by Courtesy of Warner Media – © Warner Media

Frank Herbert’s Dune was and still is a progenitor of classic Sci-Fi storytelling. Many classic films could be seen as thinly veiled rip offs of the general Dune mythos. Yet, I’ve always had my issues with the story of Dune. Many of those issues were still present in Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 release of Part One of his adaptation. Beloved by so many, I wasn’t all that bowled over by Part One. It’s not a bad film, but I find it to be highly overrated and falls into many pitfalls that are just part of Dune as a whole. Now Part Two is upon the world. Does the follow up create a better experience?

Picking up where Part One left off, Paul and Lady Jessica (Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson) are still traveling across the desert lands with The Freman. While Paul’s besting of their warrior Jamis has curried them favor with The Freman, their fate is still up in the air. Lady Jessica needs to convince The Freman that Paul is indeed the chosen one that has been prophesied to bring freedom to the “Freemen.”

Paul is still unsure of how he wants to be seen though. Being a prophet isn’t what he wants. His love of the Freman Chani (Zendaya) is what he thinks about most. Still, he finds ways to ingratiate himself into their culture and join their fighting ranks. Meanwhile, the treacherous Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) is conjuring up new ways to rid Arrakis of The Freman. And he hopes to do so before the Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken) sticks his head into their matters.

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Photo by Courtesy of Warner Media – © Warner Media

While the story still can feel unfinished and thin at times, Dune: Part Two is a revelation compared to the first installment. That is a sentiment even the most diehard Part One fan will agree with. Part One received many kudos for its cinematography. While it was no slouch in that department, it often gets more recognition than it actually deserves. Visually, Part Two is leaps and bounds more impressive than Part One. The grand scale of Arrakis is laid brilliantly across the screen whilst never losing the focus of the characters traveling its sandy dunes.

The action is also more engaging and gripping, even if there isn’t tons of it. It may come down to most of the lore being delivered in Part One, but Part Two is lighter and swifter on its feet. It does begin to drag once the film introduces Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler). It does pick back up later on, but the lag can be felt heavily at times. Some clever small cuts could have done wonders. The feeling is similar to that of watching Beau is Afraid, which could have benefited from a few edits to make the middle portion move at a better pace.

Dane Part Two 2

Photo by Courtesy of Warner Media – © Warner Media

Another issue that lends to the slow pacing at times comes down to the biggest issue with Dune: Part Two. The story editing is atrocious. Large swaths of the film are dedicated to following one set of characters. Investments in the first hour of Part 2 are spent only with our main characters. Then they finally introduce Feyd-Rautha and it feels like another film has all of a sudden started. 

More inconsequential sections of the film also tend to move too fast. Paul starts his training with The Freman and it cuts from the introductory scene of his initiation, straight to a future moment where he is already part of their fighting forces. It isn’t hard to understand what is happening, but it is abrupt and off putting at first. There needed to be a better plan for crossing all the story points they jam into Part Two. Some people may not care, but it is still a fact that it is an awkward trail from start to finish. 

Dune: Part Two is almost a revelation compared to Part One. It still isn’t the end all be all of Sci-Fi that many fans make it out to be. But it is a joy to see on the big screen.

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Photo by Courtesy of Warner Media – © Warner Media

Final Grade: B+

Check out more of Matthew’s articles. 

Here’s the trailer of the film. 

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