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29th Feb 2024

Dune: Part 2 is the perfect cinematic experience

Simon Kelly

Dune: Part 2 review

See it as soon as you can.

It’s rare to call any film ‘perfect’. Every film has flaws, misses a few beats or makes a wrong decision here or there.

And, while Dune: Part 2 is no different, coming out of the screening for the long-awaited sequel, it was hard to recall a cinematic experience quite like it.

Director Denis Villeneuve has managed to condense an incredibly complicated book into an action packed sci-fi behemoth, bursting at the seams on such a grand scale, it’s almost hard to fathom. It’s as close to perfect as you could get on the big screen.

Dune: Part 2 is the perfect cinematic experience

We continue where we set off from 2021’s Part 1, with Paul (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) bedding in with the nomadic Fremen on Arrakis in the aftermath of the downfall of the House Atreides.

Alongside him are Fremen warriors Chani (Zendaya) and Stilgar (Javier Bardem), as he champions an uprising of religious zealots and guerilla resistance to take on the empire and the brutal House Harkonnen.

The casting is a particular strong point across both Dune films and the sequel’s additions only makes it stronger. Christopher Walken as the Emperor and Florence Pugh as his daughter, Princess Irulan, excel in their minimal roles.

Any questions of whether Chalamet can grow into a charismatic and fearless warrior leader are brushed aside, as his performance as the increasingly authoritative but ideologically torn Muad’dib is astounding.

Zendaya pulls off a heartbreaking performance as Chani, who perfectly mirrors Paul’s internal struggles, injecting palpable tension into their growing relationship.

That tension is outwardly driven by fanatical Fremen, headed by Bardem’s Stilgar, and Lady Jessica, the supernaturally gifted Bene Gesserit, who is dead set on selling Paul’s prophecy to the native population – something Chani isn’t so convinced on.

The standout addition for Part 2 however is Austin Butler’s psychopathic creep Feyd Rautha, the nephew of Stellan Skarsgard’s Baron Harkonnen.

The disturbing challenger to Paul’s uprising is involved in the most beautiful and grotesque scene, set inside a monstrous gladiatorial colosseum and shot entirely in black and white, showing the sterile ghoulishness of the House Harkonnen.

The scale that Villeneuve is able to portray in Dune: Part 2 is staggering. It was a high point of the first film, but now the stakes are raised even higher. There’s more action, bigger set pieces and, most importantly, more sand worms.

Frank Herbert’s dense and complicated novel mirrors real-life history in a way that’s relatable, but doesn’t hold your hand. Villeneuve’s adaptation is similar in its attitude towards viewers.

But the director manages to gracefully walk over any potential landmines where the sci-fi elements could get too stodgy for the audience, using visuals so smartly that we’re never questioning the logistics of life on Arrakis.

Everything makes sense, while being incredibly alien at the same time.

Dune: Part 2 is a generational sci-fi behemoth that will no doubt be the new benchmark for any future heavy-hitters of the genre.

Call in sick, get a babysitter, turn off your phone. Don’t waste a minute getting yourself to a massive screen and enjoy the (worm) ride.

5/5 stars.

Dune: Part 2 releases in Irish cinemas on Friday, March 1.

If Dune isn’t your thing, another movie coming to Irish cinemas this week is Lisa Frankenstein. Check out Stephen Porzio‘s review for the comedy horror below.

Another solid option for cinema goers to check out from Friday, 1 March is Lisa Frankenstein, a romantic comedy horror from Oscar-winning writer Diablo Cody (Juno).

Set in the ‘80s, it centres around Lisa (scream queen Kathryn Newton, Freaky) – a goth teen left emotionally and mentally damaged by the gruesome axe-murder of her mother a few months before the start of the movie.

Struggling to fit in with her new image obsessed step-mom (Carla Cugino) and step-sister (Liza Soberano), as well as in school, Lisa finds an escape from these tribulations by spending time in a nearby, allegedly haunted graveyard.

When lightning strikes a tombstone in the cemetery, a young man (Cole Sprouse) who died in the Victorian era is brought back to life. While initially terrified by his Frankenstein-esque appearance, Lisa and ‘the creature’ wind up forming an unlikely bond.

At first, Lisa Frankenstein feels like a stylish if derivative homage to similar genre period pieces – the lead character’s struggles in suburbia recall Edward Scissorhands, actor Joe Chrest is cast in a similar role as a detached dad to what he played in Stranger Things.

The movie quickly develops life of its own, however. This is as it takes a darker turn with Lisa and the creature’s activities becoming more and more criminal. Particularly impressive is the way Cody and director Zelda Williams, amidst all the fantastical elements and carnage, do effectively capture the feeling of being an outcast as a teen.

While the film’s tonal shifts won’t be for everyone, we can see this attracting a cult following in the years to come.

4/5 stars.

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