DUNE PART TWO. Still Spectacular Even on the Small Screen

Denis Villeneuve’s epic adaptation packs a punch even on the small screen

For Dune aficionados I think the main sentiment upon walking out of Part Two was, “wow, he really did it”. Not just in terms of adapting Herbert’s tome, but also in not compromising on the tale’s commentary on imperialism and religious fanaticism. Couple this to a step up in scale, action, and emotion, and you have an epic for the ages.

The film picks up from where Part One ended without skipping a beat. House Atriedes has fallen after accepting the poisoned chalice of control of Arrakis, aka the titular Dune. A site of galactic importance as the source of the spice melange, a substance capable of expanding the mind and fueling interstellar travel. Slaughtered by a sneak attack by rivals House Harkonnen, the only survivors are the young heir Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), and his mother, the Lady Jessica (a dark and enthralling performance from Rebecca Ferguson). Cast adrift in the desert, they join a native tribe of Fremen, whose number include their leader Stilgar (the film’s MVP Javier Bardem) and a woman long glimpsed in Paul’s dreams, Chani (a captivating Zendaya). As the Harkonnen seek to purge the planet of rebellion, the Paul seeks to learn the Fremen ways, and join their cause in striking back against their oppressors. All while Lady Jessica stokes the religious fervor that surronds her son, to elevate his position, and give them an opportunity to not just hit back against the Harkonnens, but also Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (Christopher Walken) whose own machinations set in motion the fall of house Atriedes.

Part Two is bigger in scale and action, more expansive in therms of galactic intrigue, but also more emotionally resonant in terms of the character arcs and themes explored. At its core, the waging of guerrilla warfare and a burgeoning romance between Paul and Chaini, as they bond over their collaboration and inspiration of each other. Encircling them within the Fremen sietch, is a spectrum of believers, where the generational work of the Bene Gesserit order has preordained a savior, and various portents signify Paul to be this figure. Something that obviously weighs heavy on him, and must be reconciled with his own prophetic insights into the path he chooses, and the inescapable outcome of death and destruction. Beneath the comedic layers of Javier Bardem’s Stilgar theres a more perturbing figure, one emblematic of a blind faith, stoked over generations. Chaini serves as a counterpoint, a non-believer of the myth, but one who becomes devoted to the man. It’s one of the more significant changes from Herbet’s original text, and better serves the cinematic format, as well as in building a more empowered female character.

Part Two also spices things up (sorry/not sorry) with the introduction of new players, notably the Emperor’s daughter, Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh, who will be a notably part of Dune Messiah if it comes to fruition) and Paul’s counterpart over in House Harkonnen, the twisted nee Baron Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler).

As already alluded to, what’s most striking is the film’s tackling of themes encircling faith and fanaticism, as well as the use of religion as a tool, to suppress, control, or inspire a people, notably an indigenous one. Here, it’s the familiar elevation of a man and the myth built around him, as well as the pedestal his bloodline is placed upon (his Fremen name does mean “base of a pillar” after all). It’s bold fare for any film, and impressive that these films are so overtly woven into the rich tapestry of Dune. For writer/director Denis Villeneuve, Dune Part Two is the latest in a hell of a run of features, and further solidifies his status as a top tier director, storyteller, and cinematic visionary.

The Package

Dune Part Two is one of the most visually resplendent films you’ll see this year, and thankfully the home video release does it justice. Review covered the Blu-ray release of the film and it’s a benchmark release, which excels in terms of detail and depth of image. The textures of the Arrakis sands, still suits, weaponry and alien vistas all stand out. Colors have a strong punch, blacks are solid, notably during the Geidi Prime sequences. In comparison, the image lacks some of the depth and ‘pop’ of the 4K edition, but that’s to be expected for the more premium format.

Dune: Part Two contains the following extra features, all build into a more general “behind the scenes” featurette. Collectively, they run about about an hour. Each is well informative and polished, but with a film like this, you’ll always be wanting more.

  • Chakobsa Training: Crafting the language and lore of these tribes, and the real world inspirations behind the production work
  • Creating the Fremen World: Costume, culture, and communication!
  • Finding the Worlds of Dune: Introducing the new players/sights seen in Part Two
  • Buzz Around the New “Thopter”: A breakdown of the production design work to realize the new vehicle used in Part Two
  • Worm-Riding: How physical and computer effects combined to bring the worm riding sequences to life
  • Becoming Feyd: An Austin Butler-centric piece that dives into the approach to the character, and various inspirations fueling the performance
  • A New Set of Threads: The costume design is one of the standout features of the film, so it’s great having a piece focusing on that, and it’s not just the still suits that get attention
  • Deeper into the Desert: The Sounds of the Dune: A fun addition, where we get a look at what went into the score and sound effects of the film, including the unusual instruments and items used to generate a variety of sounds

Note, there is a Dune: Part Two Premium Digital Package available if you redeem the digital code, which contains a wealth of extra extra features, not on the physical release. This may speak to a more premium home video release coming down the line, and is a bit frustrating, but it’s still a notable inclusion:

  • An Ensemble for the Ages: The longest featurette here at just over 20 minutes, and one of the best, giving a good amount of time to speak to the variety of talent making up the cast
  • Inside Dune: Spice Harvester Attack: Focused on one of the early action set-pieces of the film
  • Filmbooks: In the same vein of those on the Part One release, brief exposes on specific topics, to help viewers get up to speed, or expand their knowledge a little. Topics here are; House Corrino, The Reverend Mother, Water, and Lisan al-Gaib and the Fremen Religion

    The Bottom Line

    Dune Part Two is not just one of the cinematic events of 2024, it’s one of the home movie releases of the year. A superb transfer and a wealth of extra features, back up this epic adaptation that sees Herbert’s vision brought to life in a truly impactful and awe inspiring manner, without losing any of the depth and texture of the tale.

    Dune Part Two is available on 4K-UHD, Blu-ray, and Digital now

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