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Spicing Up the Box Office: Dune: Part Two is a masterful combination of storytelling and cinematography

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Production
Striding across the desolate desert, Timothee Chalamet (Paul Atreides) makes his presence known as the “Lisan al Gaib” or messiah. In this second installment, Atreides transforms from a paladin-like hero to a tragic figure, putting to rest any theories that being “the chosen one” is only for the virtuous at heart. 

When Dune: Part Two first came out with a trailer, I was skeptical. The first film had drawn me in easily, but I was frustrated with the cliffhanger and, quite frankly, the lack of Zendaya, as she was marketed to be in the entire movie rather than the last thirty minutes. I hoped that the second installment would have a clear ending and a lot more Z. While Dune: Part Two did end in yet another cliffhanger, it was suspenseful and satisfying at the same time. Three things stood out in the film: the cinematography, the action, and the acting. 

To begin, the shots in the film are visually stunning. The care that went into each second of the film is impressive. There are a number of locations throughout the movie that are fantastical and realistic. Dune Part Two was filmed in Budapest, Italy, Jordan, and Abu Dhabi. These locations were important to the development of the world in which Dune takes place. The rolling hills of sand made for some breathtaking pieces of scenery with sweet sunsets and fast-moving winds. 

One of the best shots in the film is when Paul (Timothée Chalamet) is with Chani (Zendaya) on the top of a sand dune having a deep conversation. The sun is setting and the camera moves around them, allowing the characters and the backdrop to speak for themselves. A stark contrast to this is when the viewers are introduced to Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler) as he enters an arena to fight the last members of House Atreides. This moment is smooth, like the sand dunes, but colder and more grim. The way in which the cinematographer distances each location from another is the true driving force behind the movie.

Action is extremely important in a movie such as Dune: Part Two. With a number of back-and-forth moments of dialogue, the action sequences bring a sense of power into the world of Arrakis. The sandworms are brought more to the forefront in this second chapter with Fremen, including Paul, riding them into battle and as forms of transportation to the Southern part of the planet. When Paul is taught how to ride a worm, the scene is more epic than the viewer could imagine. 

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Something that particularly intrigues me is when the characters engage in physical combat. Sure, it’s a classic hand-to-hand sword fight, but there’s something about the way it is done in Dune that makes it all the more appealing. In a specific scene, Feyd-Rautha and Paul have a one-on-one battle near the end of the film. It is set in front of a setting sun and the movement of the actors is so fluid, despite it being a gritty scene to watch. The blades used create sharp, quick sounds alongside the grunts coming from the very different enemies. 

Like all films similar to the Dune franchise, acting plays a key role in the development of all of the shots and bits of violence. Without its stellar cast, Dune: Part Two would not have flourished in the way that it has. 

With concern and conviction, Zendaya (Chani) stands out among her contemporaries for her performance in Dune: Part Two. Chani is more than just a love interest for Paul Atreides, she has her own ambitions and goals. What is most refreshing about Zendaya’s acting is that her eyes practically put viewers in a trance and they must hear every word she has to say.

There were a few newcomers to the cast including Florence Pugh and Austin Butler, playing Princess Irulan and Feyd-Rautha. Pugh’s acting was en-pointe as usual, but the same thing happened in this movie like Zendaya in the first installment. Pugh was in virtually every public interview alongside Chalamet, Butler, and Zendaya, but she’s barely in the movie. This flaw has occurred twice now. It seems like an unhealthy marketing technique and just restricts the talents of great actors. 

Besides that misstep, the performances made are all-around incredible. Butler makes for a sadistic, but somehow charming psychopath. He commands the scenes he’s in and knows how to draw in the viewer with his physicality and his eyes. Chalamet delivers once again. His portrayal of Paul Atreides has gone to a completely new level. As his character becomes more aware of his purpose, he shows Paul’s mental transition into a mercenary and “prophet.” This level of development is something truly fascinating to watch. 

Returning cast members such as Javier Bardem (Stilgar), Rebecca Furguson (Lady Jessica), and Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck) added so much structure to the film, serving as various types of mentors for Paul. These actors go above and beyond in each role, but their gifts are brought to light in this film. 

The heart of the entire film is Zendaya. Her portrayal of Chani is something that no one else could do. She brings bravery, compassion, wisdom, and beauty to the character, showing her versatility and depth. Many camera shots are just of Zendaya’s face, and for good reason. Her expressions on the screen reflect numerous emotions at once. The viewer sees Chani’s deep care for Paul along with her dedication to her people. Zendaya’s performance was highly anticipated, especially because she was only in the last 15 minutes of the first movie. 

An exciting film all around, Dune: Part Two was a spectacular journey with breathtaking cinematography, flowing action scenes, and outstanding acting. The third movie is sure to bring all loose ends together, including the birth of Paul’s sister, played by Anya Taylor-Joy in Dune: Part Two. With an already entertaining cast, the addition of Taylor-Joy will be the icing on the cake for a story that shows how power in the hands of anyone results in corruption. Dune: Part Two is worth a watch for those in need of a complex tale of faith and greed. 

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River Ball
River Ball, Opinion Editor

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    SpencerMar 26, 2024 at 12:08 pm

    I agree that it was masterful