Reviews

Dune: Part Two

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/14/24;
Warner;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $281.71 million;
$19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of strong violence, some suggestive material and brief strong language.
Stars Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, Javier Bardem, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, Souheila Yacoub.

Director Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the second half of the Dune novel delivers a powerful sci-fi epic grounded by compelling characters and eerily familiar politics owing to the timeless allegory of Frank Herbert’s original book.

Following the betrayal of House Atreides by the Harkonnens and Emperor Shaddam IV in the previous film, Paul (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), have retreated into exile on the desert planet Arrakis among the indigenous Fremen.

Picking up immediately where the previous film ended, the pair must quickly earn their place among the Fremen, which Lady Jessica hopes to accomplish by taking advantage of a messianic prophecy her religious sect, the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, planted among the Fremen centuries ago. All signs point to Paul as being that messiah, but the Fremen are split in their faith — older members of the tribe, who hail from the fundamentalist southern regions of Arrakis, tend to be more spiritual and accepting of Paul as their messiah. The younger Fremen, such as Chani (Zendaya) are more inclined to reject these religious leanings, and speak contemptuously of the Bene Gesserit manipulating the Fremen so that off-world interests could seize control of the planet to mine it for its valuable spice.

As Lady Jessica schemes to convince more people that Paul is the messiah, and thus grow their followers into a formidable fighting force capable of avenging their family’s betrayal, Paul is wary. Exposure to the spice has given him visions of a future in which his attempts to lead the Fremen result in their destruction and the deaths of billions in an interstellar civil war (essentially the storyline of the second and third “Dune” books). To avoid this outcome, he vows to stay away from the southern settlements, but the relentless pursuit of the Harkonnens forces his hand.

Presented with the potential for a massive army to carry out his vengeance, and fueled by his growing clairvoyance, Paul begins to wallow in the hype of his messianic reputation. His increasing willingness to take advantage of the Fremen’s religious beliefs for his own gain further isolates Chani, with whom he had fallen in love. She’s also not keen on the possibilities that Paul might have to marry Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), daughter of the Emperor (Christopher Walken) to restore the peace.

The film looks great, and uses some innovative photography, particularly in scenes shot in night-vision meant to take place on a planet under a black sun. However, the home video presentation offers a constant widescreen image that doesn’t take advantage of a variable aspect ratio for scenes shot with the Imax camera. Thus, what had scope and grandeur on the big screen likely won’t provide the same immersive impact on typical home theaters, thus putting more emphasis on the story and characters. Even so, the film more than capably delivers in this regard as well.

Meanwhile, the concepts of religious manipulation and holy wars involving people living in the desert will have real world resonance to anyone turning on the news.

The 4K and Blu-ray discs of the film include several behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about 64 minutes in total. The digital versions of the film include an additional eight featurettes totaling 43 minutes.

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