DUNE 2 Hits Every Beat

17th Dallas International Film Festival

You will feel every moment, if you let it take you. Feel your muscles as they tense.
Harsh environments, relentlessly knocking, wait for an answer. DUNE denies humanity. But only this planet allows a universe to exist. And the people know its truth, with every heartbeat and every BOOM. 

ᑐ ᑌ ᑎ ᕮ.  Is rhythm. Like a beat you want to understand but also keep at an arm’s distance, as to have it too close would be … dangerous.
Denis Villeneuve creates Dune 2 in a seemingly ultra-raw, purely from scratch, nothing like you’ve ever seen, birth that can rise from sand, experience. But Hans Zimmer gives the breath of life to revive an alluring, exotic awakening to science fiction that has been missed in many years passed. He makes science fiction big again. And Dune 2 is science fiction in the biggest way. The story is big. The setting is big. For three hours you will live on one big barren planet. Your creators intend to carry out one big mission. To put the planet’s inhabitants, and audiences, in a trance.

Creators lead by Villeneuve's wife Tanya Lapointe, spent more than a year perfecting a design of the Shai-Hulud, or the super-sized worm creatures thriving on the planet DUNE.

Hans Zimmer was 14 when he read Dune. He explains the rambunctious emotions of a teenage boy exploring science fiction written far ahead in time by Frank Herbert. Why were films like Space Odyssey scored with 19th century orchestras? Dune had to be different. The Dune novel shakes fragile ground of there being any significance to humans more than for the water they contain. Raging against other men with dubious agendas, one must rage against the unforgiving power of heat and sand. But its sand holds that precious thing the humans there cannot live without. Melange spice. It might be fun to imagine Zimmer loaded up on spice facing these aggravations (see above) as he choreographed multiple teams to create ALL the sounds you hear. But no, it is a man returning to the wild exhilaration of imagination after Dune’s impression made its mark. And how does a boy think, certainly not with any sort of predicted percussion. None of that predictable stuff here. Wild dangerous and new is what you will find in the sounds of voices, ships, in background, and of course in the inhospitable nature of the planet Arrakis. Adding to interest in Hans Zimmer’s quest to create a unique stamp for Dune is the fact that he has never seen the 1984 version nor the TV series. Also, he passed up Oppenheimer to do this film. Just saying.

Not sure who to praise more here but the cast fits every character. No other player could fit any of these roles.

The film is more than sound. If you have read Herbert’s novel you will find a caldera load of information missing. Much omitted that I celebrate, but much is left out which gaps understanding. Who are these people? Why? How? What the…? But whether you know the story or not, Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, Prisoners) gives you just enough of what you need to enjoy a true IMAX experience. Shot in Budapest with desert scenes from Arrakis found in the UAE and Jordan to feel and believe in what you feel as heat boiling at the surface. Oh yes, all that is unforgiving will be explicitly understood. The French/Canadian director has stated that this film was made to please himself first. He was also a lover of the novel at the age of 13. His most important intention was to capture the intriguing light in a waterless world. The film has a huey dimness from shifts in location to fully lit scenes. You never escape the haze. An intentional cause, maybe, pursuing a theme of mysticism to carry weight of oppression. All part of the dream and seduction. 

Lady Jessica created by the lovely Rebecca Ferguson.

Our hero is Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet; Willy Wonka, Little Women) who decides to give up a peaceful life in a green world to complete his father’s plans. To do this he endures the greatest of conflict, with doubt fear and hate focused in his direction. A format not so special– or out of the box as they say. It’s a recurring theme. What compares 2024 to 1984 is essence emotions. Have you tried to watch older movies, I mean most of them? Lines are read but characters are only pages. Dune 2024, especially this second installment, is full of humanity. And intensity. Star Wars of course mingled the two concepts, and small doses of silliness survive the climate, but Dune maintains a much more serious tone. 

Another variation from the 1984 David Lynch’s version has to do with its path. Here, instead of a force-fed plot, rather, someone holds your hand. A guide. And you must follow. Don’t grip at hinges but allow doors to open and accept the ability to fill in the story with your own intelligence. With more than three hours in front of you, you will appreciate artistic cuts. If you still feel lost, read the book.

At its core with struggles of life beating you senseless, you need performances to reflect the pain of people. And this dream sequence full of nightmare never slacks on its amplification of character. When actors know what they are doing and how to move the camera, make it obey, audiences do the same. True talent leaves critics at a loss of opinion. Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and all, dominate with ease by being vulnerable and wise in their craft. The writer’s detail in dialogue has much to do with knowing these people. But the cherry picked and stylistically edited scenes by Villeneuve set up their performances for victory. Bien Sur!

Who, wait, is that Austin Butler? Whoa. I think now it might be his calling to become permanent resident villain.

Villains make the best of stories, or make the best of heroes. Terrible beings give rise to the great. They are tools for contrast. For a time, villains have been given too much coddling. Any handful of bad-guy films from the last twenty years and we keep trying to define their evil; for instance, they had a tough childhood, mommy issues, daddy issues, issue issues. Because Herbert wrote this in 1965, the story prevails with evil being just that: pure evil. Dune 2 delivers the sinister unhuman-like Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen played by Austin Butler. Let’s just say, ewe. Yikes. Scary. He played this so well he may be stuck in evildome forever. Hopefully him along with his uncle Baron Vladamir Harkonnen. Wink. 

There is a special lighting effect throughout all, but it changes to more black and glaring white during a certain scene. Glazed and clear where the enemy is more defined here while the harshness of surrounding lands remains a constant sienna. Villeneuve it seems has mastered the light he sought to create. Be sure you carry a water into your movie, hopefully on an IMAX. The scenes will make you very thirsty. 

To be less serious. I find it difficult to believe a planet not hospitable at all in any way could manage so large of a population. Can someone explain this to me? It is the only visual that wakes me up out of Dune’s dream world. Part 3? Can you explain?

15th Dallas International Film Festival