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More Sand this time

Part Two is a spectacle that deserves the biggest screen possible.

   On March 1, Warner Bros. released the highly anticipated sequel to 2021’s Dune, “Dune: Part Two.” In the film’s opening weekend,  it grossed $81.5 million domestically and another $97 million dollars internationally, bringing the movie’s total opening weekend box office numbers to $178.5 million dollars. The film follows Paul Atreides(Timothée Chalamet) on a quest to avenge his family’s betrayal at the hand of the Emperor and House Harkonnen while also attempting to integrate himself within the Fremen natives of Arrakis. It is one of the best movies I have ever seen and, at least to me, was the true definition of a cinematic experience. I was glued to my seat for all 168 minutes, and even though it was very long, it was well worth it.

   The best part of the movie was, by far, the characters, as every one of them had a distinct part to play in the plot and their own motives to drive them like Paul and Chani(Zendaya) while the film also features some of the best visuals I’ve seen in a while.

   All of these components combine to make characters who feel real. Simply put, the character development is leagues above anything else I’ve ever seen in a movie. I think Paul’s development is great in this film as he fights incredibly hard to achieve revenge and help the Fremen while not traversing the path that leads to a holy war, but we watch as he loses this fight, and he ultimately makes the choice to ascend and become the Fremen messiah which leads to the war foreseen in his visions. The audience watches a tragedy in real time as Paul fulfills the future he tried so hard to avoid as a consequence of achieving revenge and a better life for the Fremen. Another great example of the development in the film is Chani, Paul’s lover. She is initially one of Paul’s few supporters within the Fremen rebel group and helps to teach him their ways, offering kindness in an ocean of sand. Her kindness is never repaid by Paul with him spending much of the movie telling her how he will avoid the prophesized future seen in his dreams while he ends up betraying her trust time and time again. Like a Shakespearian tragedy, the main characters do not get a happy ending, but that allows for an enticing sequel to complete the story. 

   Another highlight of the film is the cinematography, which made up a good portion of the movie’s $190 million dollar budget, making a planet of 90% sand and 10% rock come to life. There’s a shot I distinctly remember where the two moons and the sun of Arrakis all eclipsed which made for a very dramatic moment. Other cinematography standouts include a black and white gladiator fight on the planet of House Harkonnen and every scene with a sandworm is very awe-inspiring. The bad thing about the setting and cinematography is it gets very tiring on the eyes, especially when the movie cuts from dimly lit rooms to the bright desert.

   Despite all of this greatness, the one place I think the film falls short is the plot itself. Isolated from the rest of the characters, their respective performances and the lore surrounding the Dune franchise, this story wouldn’t feel too special as it is mostly a revenge story where the main character wins with religious and political undertones. I don’t consider this much of a slight to the film, but I think if the cast changed, the movie would significantly suffer. It’s not a deal-breaker for the film considering the character-driven nature of the movie but it also doesn’t help that some story moments are predictable. 

   Overall, I would give “Dune: Part Two” a 9.5/10 for great performances from every cast member, great cinematography and moving character development, at the expense of a plot that isn’t very rich on its own. “Dune: Part Two” is currently showing in theaters nationwide and should release on HBO Max after its theatrical run. Director Denis Villeneuve has reportedly written most of the script for the third film, while Hans Zimmer has already begun composition for a potential finale to the trilogy.

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