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The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Cinema with Sam: ‘Dune: Part Two’ among greatest films of century

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“Dune: Part Two” serves as an epic sequel to its predecessor. (Photo courtesy of IMDb)

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to get into an early screening of Denis Villeneuve’s new science-fiction epic “Dune: Part Two” (2024), the sequel to “Dune” (2021).

The film stars Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson and Austin Butler and adapts the second half of Frank Herbert’s 1965 book. “Dune: Part Two” picks up right where the first film ends, with Paul (Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Ferguson), venturing off into the desert to seek shelter with the Fremen, including Chani (Zendaya) and Stilgar (Javier Bardem).

Paul also seeks revenge on those who murdered his family. With “Dune: Part Two,” Villeneuve has created his magnum opus and the cinematic experience of a lifetime.

With the first film being critically acclaimed and winning six Oscars, many people, including myself, had high expectations for this new film. Villeneuve does not disappoint. The film explores the themes of faith, religion, oppression and love, which are all very well-done and poignant.

Herbert’s original vision of the novel was to convey a cautionary tale about the dangers of ambition, religious fanaticism and power’s corrupting influence. “Dune: Part Two” successfully adapts these visions onto the big screen. This film also gives a whole new meaning to the word “Messiah,” which is different from the one depicted in “Dune.”

“Dune: Part Two” is very much an ensemble piece, with some of the biggest movie stars today participating in the film. Chalamet, Butler, Zendaya and Florence Pugh all give fantastic performances, but Chalamet’s is a career-best. The range he shows in the movie is awe-inspiring and, at times, he took my breath away with his sheer power and presence on screen.

Zendaya also gives a stunning performance, hooking the audience with Chani’s confidence and charisma. Her chemistry with Chalamet is also very authentic and genuine. When Butler is on screen as Feyd-Rautha, you cannot take your eyes off him. He is utterly captivating and terrifying.

Javier Bardem as Stilgar gives a perfect performance portraying the blind faith that many have regarding religious messiah figures and is often the comedic relief in the film. Lastly, Ferguson, like always, is fantastic and takes Lady Jessica and her differing allegiances to new places.

Cinematographer Greig Fraser, after working on “Dune,” “The Batman” (2022) and “Vice” (2018), has somehow created his best work. Each frame is beautifully composed with jaw-dropping colors and landscapes. The production team’s on-location filming in Jordan and Abu Dhabi makes the film’s main planet of Arrakis feel otherworldly but familiar.

Hans Zimmer surpasses his “Dune” score with this one, sometimes vibrating my seat with drums. The score also is expertly incorporated with the sound design. “Dune: Part Two” is truly a feast on the senses and must be experienced on the largest screen possible.

The action in “Dune: Part Two” is a tremendous step up from the first film. Villeneuve and co-writer Jon Spaihts have the Fremen fight a guerilla war against their enemy, the Harkonnens, for the majority of the runtime. Most, if not all, action scenes in the film consist of excellent camera work and fight choreography and have a purpose to the greater story being told.

Overall, Villeneuve manages to create a film that surpasses all other versions of Frank Herbert’s epic and has created the sci-fi masterpiece of my generation. “Dune: Part Two” is not just one of the greatest sequels ever made but one of the greatest films of this century. If “Dune” (2021) was my “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977), then this is my “Empire Strikes Back” (1980).

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About the Contributor
Sam Cohen, Movie Columnist
Sam Cohen (he/him/his) is a junior majoring in Film and Media Studies. He won the Special Grand Jury Prize for his Comedy short film “The Gum Run” at the 2019 Montclair Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers Competition. Sam writes weekly reviews of recent TV Shows and Movies while occasionally reviewing older, forgotten classics. When not reviewing, discussing, or watching films, Sam is also a part of many extracurriculars on campus, including being a co-captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity, and an officer of the Film Society.

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