peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2024 04 15 Dune

Dune (2021) and Dune: Part Two (2024)

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I needed a refresher on the first part as it's been about two-and-a-half years since I saw it. It strikes me now as mostly pose and expound but even so is an improvement on its successor. Notionally I was watching the second part for Florence Pugh but she has an inert, almost nonspeaking role. Christopher Walken does too and yet somehow out acts Chalamet despite being powerfully, frailly immovable at 80 or so. I felt Flo was as poor a choice for princess material as Rebecca Ferguson was as a concubine but at least Ferguson got to move a bit.

Again the cast is vast and sometimes well used. However the whole show is very derivative of the last few decades of mega movies (I'll spare you an enumeration). It's lengthy and squanders that length with excess repetition; the dream/forecast sequences could've been trimmed down which would've left more room for general story/character/whatever development or a toilet break/intermission. Javier Bardem repeatedly entreating Chalamet to slay him really resonated with me: let's get this over with! Josh Brolin again did what he could with a numpty character; how did they make his smuggler so much less than Han Solo? Austin Butler may yet grow up to be Ryan Reynolds. Dave Bautista is so completely unmodulated it must have been the fault of director Denis Villeneuve. Stellan Skarsgård phoned it in; if they'd got Tom Cruise back into a fat suit instead it would've been worth every penny.

Leaving so many loose threads dangling only make sense if there's going to be a third part. (The scowl on Zendaya's face at the end says there obviously must be a third part.) Introducing mega actresses Léa Seydoux and Anya Taylor-Joy in brief almost-cameos would only be worthwhile if they have larger roles in a third part. There's going to be a third part.

At this point I'd say David Lynch's effort was superior. The main failing here is with casting Chalamet as the lead: the producers needed a Paul who was a bit fruity like Peter O'Toole or Kyle MacLachlan (or Sting without his shirt) or a man who doesn't look so childish next to Brolin and Jason Momoa. Jostling with that for first place is the mythology of the spice which we're shown none of: Bardem, despite having partaken of it all his life, is now a broken-down man, while the Jedi mind tricks of the female cult are acquired by training not (just) drugs. The visions (including those of Paul's sister) are a long way from the spectacle of 2001 or The Tree of Life. And so on and on.

Widely reviewed of course. A critic's pick by Manohla Dargis. Dana Stevens: "each really constituting one-half of a full story arc" — I don't think so! She mistakes gesture for foundation. If the book is from 1965 it is obviously drawing heavily from Lawrence of Arabia. "Like Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga..." — please, let's keep it polite. Jake Wilson: "Neither a zippy adventure nor a metaphysical mind-bender, this Dune has the heaviness of an old-fashioned Hollywood epic." And a partial enumeration of lifted materials. Jason Di Rosso interviewed Melbourne-born cinematographer Greig Fraser (and I don't remember a thing). And so on. Overall it's just that it's new.