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The Student News Site of Berkley High School

THE SPECTATOR

The Student News Site of Berkley High School

THE SPECTATOR

Dune Part Two Surpasses the Original

Dune+Part+Two+Surpasses+the+Original
Warner Bros. Pictures

On March 1, the highly anticipated ‘Dune: Part Two’ hit theaters. The second part of the epic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic novel has been one of the most anticipated movies of the past few years. It has been three years since the Best Picture-nominated first installment was released, so fans have been eagerly awaiting the sequel. So does ‘Dune: Part Two’ live up to the hype?

No. It surpasses it.

This is one of the best science fiction films of the 21st century. Director Denis Villeneuve takes everything he did right in the first film and amplifies it to another level. The scale is bigger. The characters are more fleshed out. The shots are gorgeous. The production design is perfect. The story has multiple twists and turns that audience members will not see coming. It is everything that movies aim to be: epic, thought-provoking, emotional, and exciting.

One of the most interesting things that ‘Dune: Part Two’ does is the way it sets up expectations and subverts them. For example, stories like ‘Dune’ often use the template of the ‘hero’s journey’. The hero’s journey is a storytelling archetype that has been present since Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’. It is the template that ‘Star Wars’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and ‘The Wizard of Oz’ all follow: a character who lives in a mundane/regular world is swept away on an epic journey where they conquer evil and achieve greatness, becoming an unlikely hero. ‘Dune: Part Two’ seems to set up the expectation that it will be using the hero’s journey. Paul Atreides (the main hero) seems like he will be this messiah-like figure who has embarked on this epic journey to defeat evil, but the plot is more nuanced than that. Paul is not this purely good hero like Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker. He is manipulative. He helps defeat evil, but his motivations are selfish. While the prophecy of the so-called “Lisan al-gaib” (essentially Dune’s version of the Messiah) seems to apply directly to Paul, he rejects this idea until he realizes that embracing his role as the Lisan al-gaib can help him get revenge for the death of his father. He pretends to embrace the prophecy, when really, he wants to kill the Harkonnens and take the throne. This makes for interesting, complex characters and shows that ‘Dune’ wants to tell its story in a unique way.
The production design in this film is some of the best I have ever seen. Every single shot looks like it belongs in an art museum. The way that Villeneuve manipulates color and lighting is just unlike anything in every other movie. There’s a sequence in this movie that is in black and white. There are plenty of movies that use black-and-white, but ‘Dune: Part Two’ does it in such a unique way. This sequence takes place on the villain’s planet, which has a black sun. The black sun causes a color distortion so that every scene that is outdoors on the planet is in black and white. To accomplish this, Villeneuve and cinematographer Greig Fraser shot the sequence using infrared cameras, capturing the specific light and saturation that they were looking for. No film has ever done black-and-white like this, and it just makes ‘Dune: Part Two’ all the more impressive.

It goes without saying that all of the performances are great. Timothée Chalamet continues to prove himself as an actual actor instead of just being this teenage heartthrob. While the first Dune saw him as a relatively quiet character, the sequel sees Paul take a step forward as a leader, which translates into Chalamet’s performance as he radiates power through his performance. Zendaya also takes a step forward with a more serious performance. Veteran actors like Javier Bardem and Christopher Walken fill out a great supporting cast. But the easy standout and early frontrunner for the 2025 Oscars is Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha. Butler’s last major role was as the titular singer in 2022’s ‘Elvis’. This role could not be further from The King of Rock and Roll. Feyd-Rautha is our principal villain here. Butler is able to have this terrifying, psychopathic side to him but mix it with this interesting sense of honor and this subtle, unsettling charm. When an actor can make a character likable, scary, and charming, that shows skill.

The visual effects are also beyond perfect. In an industry currently dominated by bad special effects, ‘Dune: Part Two’ shows that it is still possible to have ground-breaking CGI. Because the environments, structures, and costumes are all practical, the visual effects are able to blend in seamlessly. Obviously, giant sandworms don’t exist, but because the sandworms are mixed in with the real sand and real people around them, it looks completely real. This film is a lock for a Best Visual Effects win at the next Oscars.

Overall, ‘Dune: Part Two’ is a must-watch film if you like sci-fi, action, or fantasy. There are things in this film that have never been done before. The story is epic, the characters are incredible and complex, and, if all else fails, the visuals, production design, and cinematography are worth the price of admission alone. If the first ‘Dune’ was nominated for Best Picture, I would not be surprised if this film surpassed its predecessor and won the big award.

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About the Contributor
Aiden Aronoff, Copy Editor
Hey everyone! My name is Aiden. I’m so excited to be your copy editor this upcoming year! I am a senior and this is my third year on the staff of the Spectator. I’m a huge movie nerd and Detroit sports fan! I have my own movie blog, Sweet n' Sour Movie Blog, where I do movie reviews. I love hanging out with friends, watching movies (obviously!), being active, and reading/writing. Can’t wait for this year!

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