March 8, 2024

Dune: Part Two achieves the impossible, delivering the grandest space opera to date

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Anatolii Mishustin in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rating: filled star filled star filled star filled star filled star

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"Dune: Part Two" (2024) / Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Picture by: Warner Bros.

The second installment of Dune breaks all the boundaries of the sci-fi genre, resulting in one of the best sequels in the history of cinema.

Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel Dune has long held the status of an undisputed literary masterpiece, but at the same time was considered impossible to adapt to the big screen. David Lynch’s 1984 attempt was deemed a failure by both fans and critics.

A few years ago, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve was hired to direct Dune in two parts. Despite the fact that the 2021 Dune: Part One may not have been to everyone’s taste, sparking discussion of it being only ‘half-a-film’, I, as a fan of the book and a fan of cinema, fell in love with it. Critics agreed, and it won six Oscars, including best visual effects and best sound, as well as earning almost $435 million at the box office.

With Dune: Part Two and promises of more scale and action than the first film, I can confidently say that Villeneuve achieved the impossible, doing justice to Herbert’s novel and delivering a film that is sublime.

 

While both films could work as standalones thanks to the first few minutes of part two providing a subtle recap, you of course need to watch the first film to fully appreciate what’s happening on screen.

The story follows Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), who now has to adapt to the ways of Fremen on his path to revenge against the house Harkonenn and the Galactic Emperor (Christopher Walken) who conspired to eradicate his bloodline and control the spice flow on the desert planet of Arrakis, while Paul himself suffers from visions of horrid future where he leads millions to death and extinction.

Part two picks up right where the first film left with a story that is compelling and develops into a cautionary tale on prophets and promised messiahs and the role of human power and greed. Villenueve lets the viewer follow a canonical ‘path of a hero’ and on the journey makes the viewer understand that he (Paul Atreides) might not have been ‘a hero’ at all.

That plays out in the pure boldness of the film’s visuals. The scale of everything deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible, the same as last year’s Oppenheimer, and the most high-end stereo speakers so that the bass, and Hans Zimmer’s masterful score, will resonate through your bones the same way the voice of Bene Gesserit does.

The newest film is a testament to what the medium of cinema stands for, for the visuals that entice and immerse you in the world with its characters and let every fiber of your body experience the warmth of the sand on Arrakis.

That’s why the derivations from the book do not feel forced or wronged, but make the story better for the medium of film, elevating some ideas better than the original piece.

On all fronts, Dune: Part Two is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement and easily makes the case for the best science fiction film ever made.

Villeneuve, working with cinematographer Greig Fraser, fulfilled an undiscovered yearning for grandness and ambition, showing it with such audacity that I was left with the question: ‘Was what I witnessed on the screen even real? Could a piece of fiction look like that?’

And of course, the performances from the star-studded cast do not disappoint, but from my first impressions the most memorable one would be Austin Butler (Elvis) as the psychotic Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, the main villain in the film. Or contrary to that Timothé Chalamet, who portrayed Paul Atreides, showing off his full actor range solidifying his status as an A-list film star even more.

It may seem as if I’m over celebrating the film, but it almost paralyzed me with its unparalleled excellence: I was so immersed in the film that I spent over half an hour without moving a single muscle. And for that – Dune: Part Two receives nothing but the highest praise from me, and I encourage you to go and experience this for yourself.

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Anatolii Mishustin

Film critic

Kyiv, Ukraine | Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hailing from Ukraine, Anatolii was born in 2006 and now resides in Amsterdam while getting his diploma. Moving to the Netherlands was a decision first and foremost motivated by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Anatolii keeps his hand on the pulse of modern media and underground culture, that’s what grows his interests and ambitions each day. He joined Harbingers’ Magazine in 2023 to challenge himself in this area to explore cultural journalism, and quickly established himself as the lead film critic for the magazine.

His work also secured him an invitation to the first edition of the Harbinger Fellow programme with the Oxford School for the Future of Journalism.

In his free time, he enjoys basketball, watching films, and playing video games.

Anatolii speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English, and is learning Dutch.

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Justin Sau

Culture editor

Hong Kong, SAR

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