“Dune Part Two” 4K UHD and IMAX Review

Dune

Dune: Part Two

 – for sequences of strong violence, some suggestive material and brief strong language.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Walken, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Dave Bautista
Running Time: 2 hours, 46 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: March 1, 2024
Blu-Ray/4K Ultra HD Release Date: May 14, 2024 (Amazon.com)

Plot Summary

Paul Atreides unites with Chani and the Fremen while seeking revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. (from IMDB)

 

Film Review

As someone who has never read the original Frank Herbert novel this film series is based on, my first viewing of 2021’s Dune was largely unfavorable. Pairing Denis Villeneuve’s artistic vision with a brand new sci-fi world for me to enter into, I was pretty lost during my first viewing. I also found Hans Zimmer’s booming score, although brilliant, to drown out a lot of the dialog, leaving me even more in the dark. After a follow-up viewing at home (with subtitles on), and after having a friend who’s a fan of the book give me a rundown of the story (as well as my watching the home release special features which explained even more), I finally could appreciate what Villeneuve accomplished with the movie. It’s a truly impressive feat.

Dune
The long-awaited sequel, Dune: Part Two, is finally out, after having been delayed from its late 2023 release to early 2024 because of last year’s writers’ and actors’ strike. And while I can’t say I’ve exactly been chomping at the bit for a continuation, I have to admit, it’s been worth the wait.

Dune: Part Two picks up where Part One left off… almost immediately. We pick up Paul Atreides’ story right after he’s joined the desert people, and they’re still carrying the body of Jamis on their way back home. Meanwhile, we get to finally meet the long-talked-about Emperor (Christopher Walken) and his daughter (played by Florence Pugh). It’s pretty much imperative to rewatch Part One before seeing Part Two (which I’m grateful I did), since there isn’t really an exposition dump to recap events so far, even though some references are scattered about for you. Much of Part Two assumes the viewer knows the events of what came before, so I definitely don’t recommend going into this one without doing your homework.

Villeneuve seems to feel much more comfortable in this world, as does Timothée Chalamet, who really comes alive in this chapter as Paul. I initially felt Chalamet’s portrayal was pretty dry and lacked charisma in the first entry. Chalamet is much more confident this time around, and it lends greatly to the overall story. Zendaya’s character, Chani, who was really only teased in the first part, has a major role this time around, but I kind of feel she may have been miscast in this part. She does okay, I suppose, but considering how absolutely important she is to Paul and his journey, Zendaya just kind of keeps channeling her moody MJ role from the Tom Holland Spider-Man trilogy, and she doesn’t really seem to fit into this world so well. I’d really be interested to see an actress with more range and personality in such a meaty (and emotional) role. Even Rebecca Ferguson’s return as Jessica is about as intense as you’d expect from the actress. She’s an incredible performer, and she really keeps the audience on their toes as to where exactly might her character’s allegiance lie. Getting a beefier role this time around, too, is Javier Bardem’s Stilgar, who only had minutes of screentime in the previous film. He’s fantastic here, and brings some needed levity to the proceedings.

Dune
I have to say the special effects are also absolutely incredible. Where many movies rely heavily on CGI to create characters and scenery and can often look more cartoony than realistic (the upcoming Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire immediately comes to mind), Dune: Part Two‘s effects are near perfect. There was really only a moment or two where it looked like a character is set against a green screen, but in most cases, everything blended so well that it really leant to the immersiveness of this visual world.

The overall story of Dune deals largely with the idea of there being a “messiah” / “chosen one” that has been prophesied about. Many parallels can be drawn to Christianity or Islam, but I’m hesitant to say it’s done in any kind of directly blasphemous way. Given its fantastical, other-worldly setting within a universe not much like our own, it feels more like a fairytale than something that conflicts with our own beliefs. But, with that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the frequent references to Paul being a messiah and sort-of “savior” to the Fremen makes some believing viewers uncomfortable. I’m not sure if Frank Herbert was using his book Dune as some kind of religious commentary, but I wouldn’t be shocked either way if that was his intention or not. (I also haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how the story concludes in relation to this subject matter. I can only judge the story these movies are presenting.)

Dune
Much like the first film, Dune: Part Two is pretty rough when it comes to violence. Director Denis Villeneuve does seem to make an effort to hide some of the more gruesome visuals from the screen, but he also doesn’t in a few startling scenes. One that immediately comes to mind is when Austin Butler’s Feyd-Rautha tests a new knife blade by slicing behind him in an unexpected motion, slitting the throat of a woman standing by his side. We see quite a bit of blood running down her neck before she collaposes. He then turns to stab another one multiple times, but his body blocks our view of the graphic details. Later, there’s an arena knife fight between Feyd-Rautha and three bare-chested men. Thankfully, Villeneuve allows any bloody cuts or stabbings to be hidden by the action or the way a victim falls. We still very much get the gist of the violence here in both sequences, but he makes sure not to show us the bloody results. During the climax of the film, and some of the violent moments leading up to it, we see varying degress of victims with blood on their faces and such, while a brutal knife fight is surprisingly not so visually bloody, aside from some blood on the fighters’ faces. (We do, however, see a victim pull a knife from their body slowly and partially see the blade as it’s coming out.) Another character meets their demise with a blade to the neck, but it’s largely bloodless. There are also two disturbing moments where piles of dead bodies are set on fire with flamethrowers. A view of this is the first thing we see when the movie opens, and then we see it again near the end of the movie, bringing it full circle. For language, there’s almost nothing (especially for such a long movie), but there are 2 uses of the “S” word, 2 uses of “p*ss” (for urine, and one of them is written as a subtitle), and 1 use of “h*ll.” Lastly, there is a scene where we see Chani and Paul in a bare head-and-shoulders shot as she’s on top of him and they talk while out-of-breath, clearly taking place right after sex. It’s not graphic, but it’s also not too subtle what they were doing just moments before. (And I can’t say it was necessary to use that moment to showcase that dialog, but I can imagine Villeneuve just really wanted to portray how intimate and close these two are, in contrast to events that were soon to unfold.)

I had the pleasure of seeing this film on IMAX, and I must say it was worth it. The movie is optimized for IMAX and it’s got the kind of visuals that just beg to be shown on a large format screen. Sequences like the worm riding, battle sequences, and any number of beautiful desert shots are incredible on IMAX. Also, Hans Zimmer delivers another fantastic score, with every bit of Villeneuve’s work being enhanced by the mood-building that Zimmer provides. Yes, sometimes the clarity of the dialog is compromised, but it happens infrequently, and the rest of the movie certainly benefits from the intensity of the sound.

Dune
If there’s anything that detracts from Dune: Part Two, it would be its near-three-hour runtime. While we do live in the age of binge-watching hours of a favorite TV series – so long viewing is not foreign to many – sitting in a movie theater for 3-plus-hours straight (when you take previews into account), can certainly be a challenge. The length of Part Two never feels frivolous, as there is a lot of character development to be made, and story to tell, but it did feel a little like it could have ended sooner than it does (especially since it sets up an eventualy Part Three). With that in mind, an at-home viewing of the movie will definitely be more convenient. The other detractor would be some of the violence and the dark nature of the film. To each their own, of course, but Dune is hardly Star Wars (which I know has its own inspirations from the original Dune book); it’s much more mature in nature and themes, and the violence is more gritty. Also, some of the spiritual content is a bit dark in nature too, which will certainly unsettle some viewers.

When all is said and done, Dune: Part Two is a cinematic triumph. It’s rare to get a movie this epic in scale and that has such strong acting, artistic direction, a memorable and moving score, and a story that sticks with you. While it certainly isn’t a perfect movie, it’s still a truly great one — even if rewatching it may call for some serious dedication of your time in the end.

– John DiBiase (reviewed: 3/1/24)

 

4K UHD Special Features Review

The 4K UHD release of Migration includes the feature film in 4K and bonus features on disc, along with a 4K MoviesAnywhere digital copy and a Blu-Ray disc. The 4K quality of the film is fantastic. The clarity is crisp and certainly lends to the amazing cinematography. I definitely recommend this movie in 4K UHD.

The Extras on the 4K iTunes Digital Copy (and 4K disc where noted) include:

Inside Dune (Digital Only)
Spice Harvester Attack (5:40) – This is the first of three scene breakdowns. This one covers shooting the attack on the spice harvester and the multiple effects layers used to bring the scene to life. It shows the production crew and actors shooting on location in the desert with a large piece of the harvester leg constructed as a prop to help create a real shadow for the actors to interact with. They then added every other aspect of the harvester in post-production with CG. This segment also talks about creating new weaponry and such for this second installment.

Gurney Halleck’s Revenge (3:25) is about Gurney’s showdown with Glossu Rabban in the film. We see some behind the scenes footage of Josh Brolin and Dave Bautista practicing, and hear both of them talk about working together on the film (and how they’re actually good friends in real life despite being mortal enemies in the movie).

Fight for the Imperial Throne (5:09) details the climactic knife fight between Paul and Feyd, breaking down their fight moves and talking about all that went into it. Since the scene takes place at sunrise, the production team created a gigantic LED wall behind the actors to keep everything consistently lit for the fight. A bunch of the actors also reflected on how exciting it was for so many characters – and acting talent – to be assembled in one room as the fight took place.

 

EXTRAS

Filmbooks (Digital Only)
House Corrino (1:31) – I made it pretty clear before that I felt a little lost the first time I watched the first part of Dune. But I found that the “filmbooks” included on the Dune: Part One 4K disc release were super helpful for understanding the lineage and backstories of the characters and families. We have a few more of them here to add greater insight into the world of Dune. “House Corrino” dives into the history of the throne, the emperor and his family.

The Reverend Mother (2:08) – The Reverend Mother is the highest level of the Bene Gesserits. However, to become one, they need to survive drinking the Water of Life…

Water (1:44) – Oddly enough, this is just a copy-and-paste of the Water portion of The Reverend Mother segment before it.

Lisan al-Gaib and the Fremen Religion (1:33) – Here, they explain the prophecy clearly as a messiah, named Lisan al-Gaib, who will return water to the desert. However, the Bene Gesserits apparently created and encouraged this belief, and not all Fremen believe it.

Extras (Digital Only)
An Ensemble for the Ages (21:54) – This is the longest and most extensive featurette included. It goes through each main character, the casting, and oftentimes how they relate to each other. We see lots of great behind the scenes footage here. Many of the actors totally gush about Denis and what it’s like working with him. And several actors talk about how familial the set is, and how welcoming. (2 “bad *ss”; 1 “p*ssed off”)

 

Extras (4K Disc + Digital)
Chakobsa Training (4:52) is about the Chakobsa language and how they had to create a new language just for the movie. It’s fun to hear the actors, during their interviews, reciting lines in Chakobsa that they remember from lots of practice. (1 “p*ss” in subtitles; 1 “Oh my G-d”)

Creating the Fremen World (11:42) – Denis talks about artists who returned for this movie after their work on the first one. A lot of new set designs were made with actual sets built for the film. The set designer also talks about his inspirations for certain set designs. (1 “a” word)

Finding the Worlds of Dune (6:25) – The crew went back to Jordan to shoot on location, and Florence Pugh talks about how they used Brion Sanctuary in Italy for her character’s home.

Buzz Around the New “Thopter” (3:52) – For the second film, they built the front and back of the new “Thopter” ship. The design, this time, was inspired by a bumble bee, so it was bulkier and would look more intimidating. Everything else apart from the body of the ship was created with CG for the film.

Worm-Riding (9:23) – To capture the look of riding the worms, the crew built an outdoor wall of the worm’s skin on a gimbal. They strapped a stunt person – and sometimes the actor – to the skin wall, and to create the look of sand pouring over them, they shot huge fake sand at the actor that matched the color of the sand in Jordan.

Becoming Feyd (7:34) – After his Oscar-winning role as Elvis, Austin Butler joined the cast of Dune as Feyd. He trained for months before filming, and wore prosthetics on his head to cover his eyebrows and hair (and he wore black teeth). Other cast members talked about how much they enjoyed working with him, while Butler shared how welcoming everyone was. (1 “S” word)

A New Set of Threads (7:41) is about the wardrobe design for the movie, and how Denis brought back designers from the first movie. The costume designer talks about some of the symbolism and detail in the costumes as well.

Deeper into the Desert: The Sounds of Dune (13:00) – Apparently, Hans Zimmer never stopped writing music for Dune — even sending new music to Denis long after the first movie was done. Here he talks about making the Chani love theme and how, since he feels alien stories should have different sounds than normal human melodies, they made new instruments and sounds just for this soundtrack. It’s incredible. It’s clear that Zimmer is a musical genius.

– John DiBiase(reviewed: 5/12/24)

 

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary

. Sex/Nudity: We see Paul and Chani in a head-and-shoulders shot talking with each other while she is on top of him and they are both out of breath. It’s clear that they just finished “sleeping” together; Lady Margot Fenring seduces Feyd-Rautha. We see her sitting when she calls him over to her. It then cuts to the next scene where she tells other women that the bloodline is secure because she is carrying his child; Baron Harkonnen kisses his nephew on the lips. His nephew then kisses him on the lips in return; We see the baron’s nude backside as he’s rising from his bath, but it’s dark so we don’t really see the nudity.
. Vulgarity/Language: 2 “S” words, 1 “h*ll,” 2 “p*ss” (with one of those being written in subtitles)
. Alcohol/Drugs: The fictional spice in the story has a hallucinogenic effect; A couple characters drink a poisonous blue liquid.
. Blood/Gore: Some women with Feyd-Rautha apparently eat the organs of people. He uses a knife to slice one of the girls’ necks and we see quite a bit of blood on her throat before she collapse and he offers her, and another girl he stabs’, bodies to the other women to eat; Paul sees a vision of an atomic bomb going off and him holding Chani whose face is scarred badly and bloody; A main character has a lot of blood on his head during a one-on-one knife fight. The other character has blood on his mouth from under his nose; A kid stumbles out of a cave with blood all over their head and face; A captured woman kneels with blood on her face; Another character has blood on his head after an attack; blood is often seen on knives and swords.
. Violence: The movie opens where piles of dead, clothed people are set on fire with flamethrowers. We see this again later in the movie; Paul and Jessica fight and kill a couple of soldiers; A soldier is killed with a rock to the head/helmet off screen; The dead bodies of several soldiers are hit with injection devices that remove their body water; Beast Rabban slams a man’s head into a console repeatedly in anger; A woman is forced to drink a poison and we see her convulsing intensely on the ground. She ends up surviving; Several Fremen attack harvesters and blow them up. They also stab and slice enemy soldiers. Several Fremen are also shot and killed; Some women with Feyd-Rautha apparently eat the organs of people. He uses a knife to slice one of the girls’ necks and we see quite a bit of blood on her throat before she collapse and he offers her, and another girl he stabs’, bodies to the other women to eat; Feyd-Rautha fights three men in an arena, stabbing and killing all of them in the process; Ships attack a mountain, destroying the living space inside it; Large worms are ridden into battle. There’s a large-scale battle between two armies with lots of slicing and stabbing; A man stabs another man in the neck during a fight, killing him; Feyd-Rautha slices a man’s throat, but there isn’t any blood. He’s then carried off to be offered to his women who eat human flesh (which is never seen); A kid stumbles out of a cave with blood all over their head and face; A man drinks a poison and dies. He’s then brought back to life; A captured woman kneels with blood on her face (she’s then torched to death off screen); A man is attacked from behind and is left struggling on a flight of stairs. Another man approaches him and stabs him in the side of his neck, killing him; A main character has a lot of blood on his head during a one-on-one knife fight. The other character has blood on his mouth from under his nose. A character is stabbed in the side and we see the handle sticking out of the impact. They struggle over the second knife and a character is stabbed and killed while the other has the other knife sticking out of their shoulder. The survivor slowly pulls the knife out of the wound (which we see); and quite a bit of other sci-fi action violence.

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