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More maggots, more fighting, more love and sad looks.  “Dune 2” is Great Cinema

More maggots, more fighting, more love and sad looks. “Dune 2” is Great Cinema

I suspect that the conversation between Denis Villeneuve and his producers went like this: The first part made a lot of money, what more do you want in the second part? Worm, war or Zendai? – Yes. And here it is, “Duna 2” will arrive in cinemas in Poland in a week. If you liked the first part – and I did – the second one will take you even deeper into the desert.

Oh, by all the ancestors of Leto Atreides, what a movie this is! In the last ten, or maybe twenty years, there has been no series of this genre done on such a grand scale. The second part of “Avatar” may be hidden, and all the latest “Star Wars” movies may hide behind. In the second part of “Dune” it is clearly visible that Denis Villeneuve had complete freedom and much greater funds than in the first part. And since he made his film out of love, everything fits here. He is like Peter Jackson in love with “The Lord of the Rings”, like Burton who has been reading Roald Dahl’s prose since childhood, like Tarantino looking at Takeshi Kitano. In his “Dune” you feel everything that a 13-year-old feels when reading his First Most Important Book in Life, which will profoundly shape his thinking. Villeneuve had been working on this film in his head for forty years. That’s a lot of time to perfect each scene and imagine everything. If the first “Dune” was, as Chani warned at the very end of the film, just the beginning, “Dune 2” is an epic development and the culmination of an intrigue of galactic proportions.

“Dune 2” means more maggots, more fights, more Zendai

Anyone who has read Herbert or watched Lynch’s previous film adaptation knows perfectly well what to expect in this film. In short – the time to escape is over, the time to build the power to retaliate has begun. Paul gains the trust of the Fremen and learns their ways of surviving in the desert. Meanwhile, the Harkonnens are tightening the screws on regaining control over the spice-producing planet. The young Atreides is no longer satisfied with ordinary training, he must use the special abilities that awaken in him if he wants to protect his people. He knows that the only way to victory leads through a ritual, after which he will no longer be the same person.

Of course, a lot was lost from the book, which had (depending on the edition) 650-700 pages – even after being divided into two films. However, what remains is the desert essence, permeated with the fight for survival and religion that finds its messiah. At the same time, a lot of things were simplified so that there was no need to engage in philosophical considerations, which Frank Herbert was very fond of. What’s more, there’s a good chance that you won’t miss many of the things in the book at all. Villeneuve won’t give you time to feel their absence at all. It will dazzle you with new images and ideas for things that you could only see in your imagination so far (out of pity, I won’t mention Lynch’s kitschy, yet iconic version).

‘Dune 2’ Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Timothee Chalamet as Paul, suffering for the future, is perfect here in my opinion. This prince in the book was even more teenage and rambunctious than in the movie, but Chalamet’s casting was actually perfect. When he rejects the role of a prophet for half the film, you can feel his disagreement with the situation he is placed in. When he finally sees that he is running out of both time and options, he transforms into a deadly effective religious leader. Javier Bardem as Stilgar is great in the role of the First Faithful. Throughout the entire film, he seemed to be having the most fun on set. He was cracking jokes left and right, but one twinkle in his eye was enough and we knew he was about to shout “Lisan al Gaib!” – and we will believe in his faith. It’s a pity that although there was relatively a lot of him on the screen, in my opinion there was still too little of him – just like Josh Brolin (Guerney Halleck). Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica received far too little screen time. Shaky in the first part of the film, here she stopped sobbing in corners and became a real Bene Gesserit – focused on bending people to her vision of the world. In this vision, everyone follows Paul, who she sees as a savior. The fact that she lost her mind a bit was played brilliantly by Ferguson. Florence Pugh and Lea Seydoux shine, Charlotte Rampling is always wonderful.

Unfortunately, Zendaya is the weakest among the positive characters. The actress wasn’t allowed to cry (Fremen don’t waste water that way), which greatly limited her expression options – and yet where Florence Pugh or Rebecca Fergusson need a single look, Zendaya can only frown menacingly. Can you see her love for Paul? Not really. However, what Zendai is great at is pissing off the world. She’s great at this, but Chani wasn’t exactly like that.

Villains are a separate category in this film. Austin Butler is so evil and perfect that you actually root for him to be just a little bit more evil and crazy. His Feyd-Rautha should be not only cruel and a little more intelligent than his cruel and stupid brother Rabban – in the book we are dealing with a really very, very intelligent, evil and rotten to the core man. Austin Butler has less of this intelligence than his propensity for violence, but he is demonic enough to be terrifying. Much of the work here is done by the contrast between the agile Feyd-Rauthy and the hulking Rabban (Dave Bautista), but then Austin Butler speaks up and scares us even more. Stellan Skarsgård remains excellent in the first part. His baron has finally gained mobility, floating here and there, so that he is no longer just a disrobed corporeal mountain, immersed in strange fluids. And it is more cruel and disgusting than the abomination in Lynch’s version of “Dune” – and without the use of an additional layer of makeup.

Dune 2Dune 2 Niko Tavernise / Niko Tavernise

“Dune 2” is a movie to watch. There’s something for it!

It has long been known that film frames resembling paintings are Denis Villeneuve’s hallmark. Wherever you stop “Dune 2”, you have a picture ready to paint. This applies not only to desert landscapes, but also to interiors, fights, and close-ups of faces. Everything here is art, phenomenally lit (I would award Oscars in the “best lit set” category), an architectural gem. We will finally see more interiors than just the palace in Arrakeen and the three rooms in the Atreides headquarters on Caladan. Now Giedi Prime, the cruel mechanical planet of the Harkonen, with a color-devouring sun shining above it, takes on an additional role. Villeneuve has already mentioned in several interviews that when he was thinking about the appearance of other worlds, the idea of ​​a place stripped of colors came to his mind – so he only had white, black and shades of gray at his disposal. Giedi Prime with its colors (or rather the lack thereof) takes a worthy place next to the desert Dune, the water Caladan and the Mediterranean Kaitan. Each of these planets is different, their characters are presented in such a surprising but suggestive way that they tell us a lot about their inhabitants. This is due to the director’s sense of observation, collaborating with scriptwriters, set designers, and finally ordinary “finders” of interiors suitable for each planet. A modern Mediterranean residence became an imperial palace, the Origo studio in Budapest served as a place to build corridors on Giedi Prime, and Jordan’s Wadi Rum became Dune.

Costume designers were given even more scope to show off their talents. The team led by Jacqueline West undoubtedly had an even larger budget than in the first part. What was a bit squeaky in “Dune 1” (poor sewing of Lady Jessica’s flowing dress and the baron’s robe) no longer occurs in “Dune 2”. The subsequent elaborate robes of Paul’s mother can be analyzed endlessly, plus the intricately constructed costumes of Irulan, the Emperor himself, Lady Margot, the costumes of warriors from various factions… There is a lot to look at and if you enjoy watching such details, one viewing will definitely be for you not enough.

'Dune 2'‘Dune 2’ Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Can Hans Zimmer hear us? Because we average it…

All this is again accompanied by the music of Hans ZImmer. The first part of “Dune” could have been a solid shock for many – wild, primal singing, electric guitar, guttural sounds, drums and bagpipes are a truly fierce combination. In the second film, Zimmer seemed to have his amplifiers disconnected. Due to the fact that this time the film featured a “romantic” theme equivalent to the “action”, the composer constructed sounds that were pleasant to the ear, but not as memorable. If the first “Dune” won Zimmer an Oscar, the second one is unlikely to repeat this success. It’s still great to listen to, but you can feel the curse of the second parts, where the music has to be different enough from the first part to avoid repetition, but it also has to correspond to the first part. It is not without reason that Howard Shore was not nominated for an Oscar for the second “Lord of the Rings”. Perhaps, if we see the third “Dune” (Villeneuve announced it), then Hans Zimmer will again come out victorious on the stage at the Dolby Theater for his next statuette.

The press screening was traditionally organized in an IMAX cinema, so we could watch the film in the version in which Villeneuve would like to show it to everyone (for smaller cinemas, the image is adjusted and cut in proportion to the screen). If the first part was deafening many times, the second one – despite its much more action-packed content – is more subdued in this respect. But there was much, much more going on here. Attacking worms, fights, bombardments… To all this, Zimmer previously added a display of his skills. In “Dune 2” he seemed to lack power, and silence is not always effective in such films. The usual sound gems that were in the first film were also missing. This was the real power of the first “Dune” – the sound of a flying ornithopter, a shield switching on, singing desert sands, a bagpipe. There were very few new elements to listen to that “did the job” in the first film, adding realism to the places invented by Herbert.

But Mr. Villeneuve, who spoiled the ending for you…

If you liked the first part of the film from over two years ago, I have no doubt that you will also like the second part of “Dune”. However, I left the cinema with mixed feelings – all because of the last five minutes of the film. I’m not a huge fan of the book, so the lack of some scenes doesn’t really bother me. But the absence of one key conversation that should have happened in the last five minutes of the film, I consider a fundamental change in the relationship between the main characters – a negative change, an inexplicable change. This is not even explained by the need to create the so-called cliff-hanger before the next movie. I don’t want to spoil the viewing, so I won’t write directly what it’s about, but for Herbert’s followers it will be a profound and very visible lack. I don’t even know if I want to wait for the third part, although I will definitely watch it.

Despite this, “Dune 2” remains a spectacle tailored to our times, a spectacle that the generation that read “Dune” years ago could have been waiting for. I am happy with you that you have lived to see the moment when you can see a worthy adaptation of the novel you love on such a big screen. Because it is a worthy film adaptation, made without unnecessary haste, with love for every detail, with respect for the original. There will be no need for a remake of this title in the coming decades, because there really isn’t much that can be improved.

Source: Gazeta

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