Dune: Part Two

Dune 2 is the story of how a plucky band of desert people, armed only with invincible super-dragons and nuclear weapons, took down an evil group of bald men. It tells this story through the medium of having the Harkonnen and Sardaukar troops lose not only every battle, but every skirmish within every battle too. Also, the good guys have a man who can see the future and lasers that can cut through machines of any size. Although this takes from dramatic tension, the director compensated with very loud music.

Dune 1 made the bold choice to employ only two colours; visual brown and emotional grey. That’s how you know this is a serious movie for adults. Life is tough, let’s get real, let’s get brown. Dune 2 adds blue highlights and also black and white in the awesome Giedi Prime. Sorry red, yellow and green – you’ll have to wait for future sequels. You’re just too “childish” – go hang out with the Teletubbies, adults are watching space arabs camp on the back of giant planet-crossing worms as an allegory for, like, Jesus or Mohammad or one of those guys.


Lady Jessica (henceforth Jess) and Paul Atreides (henceforth Space Lawrence of Arabia) are taken in by the Fremen and discover a world of intrigue, magic potions and prophecies. Jess actually goes pretty hardcore here, transitioning from religious sceptic to face covered in tribal tattoos faster than a 20-year-old empath becomes a life coach. Space Lawrence of Arabia also has a native girl show him the way, setting up the romance and checking the box marked “Pocahontas/Ferngully/Avatar” on the list of 5 currently allowed Hollywood movie plots.

Unlike Dune 1, whose gastropodal pacing belied a world which lacked plot, emotion and plausibility, Dune 2 has generally stronger characters, a far faster rhythm, a plot, genuinely cool visuals and a plot. The world feels implausible and inconsistent but much more fleshed out. Dividing the 400 page novel in two sections of 10 & 390 pages, meant there was a lot more stuff happening this time – I saw very few people writhing on the cinema carpet attempting to end their life due to the interminable bleakness of what should have been science fiction but was in fact the colour brown.

Does Dune 2 explore interesting themes? Well perhaps, it certainly begins to examine the oft considered hypothetical of a messiah character arising on a world of giant worms. Some of the debate around the utility of religious fervour in achieving an end seems relevant but could have been fleshed out. Still, I’ll give it 4 Sartres for effort in the moody philosophy category. I imagine there were producers spitting boiling coffee at each other protesting the inclusion of any philosophy – lest the filthy poors lose interest, robbing them of sequel profits by way of having made people think. Dune’s lauding as relatively cerebral, adult entertainment is only by way of comparison to the ever-bloated pig-trough of Hollywood. The bile demons shoveling our gaping maws with Haliburton-approved superhero remake propaganda did indeed allow a particle of reality to slip through, a crime for which a body will presumably turn up in a river somewhere.

Dune 2’s serious tone is compromised by the implausible fight scenes that leave even stormtroopers looking like marksmen and undermine the integrity of the universe. You would not build such enormous harvesters on a planet in which a hostile force has lasers capable of easily cutting through them. The dangerous, fearsome sandworms transform into a planetary bus system by the end, robbed of much of their mystique, undermining the earlier reverence and rituals we witnessed. None of the good guys die or are ever even in serious danger at any point – the plot armour is so strong that I am only watching the visuals of such scenes, taking me out of the action and putting me in a Marvel movie, despite Dune’s attempt to engage more than one neuron. The visuals though, do deliver, with the Giedi Prime sequence being particularly memorable.

The most memorable line in the movie is uttered by Space Lawrence of Arabia after delivering two sick punches to the psychopath Harkonnen dude “Atreid’eez for your daughters hand in marriage”, after which the Emperor’s daughter gives stink eye to Chani, a person she became aware existed 3 seconds ago. Chrisopher Walken plays the Emperor playing Christopher Walken and is introduced somewhat later in the movie. His sudden appearance is jarring, he blends in about as well as Donald Trump would in a hushed theater.

You’re either making a movie for adults or you’re making a fantasy about a bunch of unkillable plot-armour friends riding around on giant worms like a magic bus system. Dune never really picked. It’s not a terrible movie, it had something to say but mumbled it.



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