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Dune, the two-part action franchise, delivers a bang for your buck with solid drama and swashbuckling action without compromising on crafty character development, writes Srivathsan Nadadhur


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


Despite multiple unsuccessful adaptations of Frank Herbert’s celebrated novel Dune across formats, Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve took a leap of faith to reinterpret the epic tale with a renewed visual aesthetic across two parts. If the prequel offered a glimpse of everything that’s at stake for the big battle, the ‘epic’ second instalment gives us all the meat it promised.

Dune has an ambitious canvas revolving around an underdog protagonist who takes charge of his destiny to avenge his past and bring peace to the world. It’s a tale of a young prince who holds promise and is grooming himself for the bigger stage. He’s unsure if he’s ready for the giant leap yet, is trying to win the confidence of the residents of a desert planet, as they fight a common enemy.

Though the stakes are raised, Denis Villeneuve retains the tale’s contemplative tone in the second part. The classic war drama narrative spans nearly three hours, diving into the psyche of its varied principal characters, providing an inward look into their persona and allowing the proceedings to breathe before the giants fight it out in a grandly staged culmination.

Beneath its epicness, Dune is a tale of a family with twisted power politics. It speaks of the price you need to pay to access the throne and builds a captivating futuristic universe where science, myths, superstitions and pragmatism collide. Paul and Chani’s romance is tender but driven by respect and their approach to power. Chani appreciates Paul’s disinterest in being a messiah.

Both Paul and his mother Jessica are handed over power against their will. The film is defined by what they do with it and the repercussions of their acts. There are intricately structured subplots around sandworms, a chilling backstory linking a poison (Water of Life) to Paul’s matriarchal lineage and his unborn sister Alia that add juice to the narrative.

The storytelling is focused but the languid pacing gets discomforting at times. Meanwhile, the primary antagonist – Feyd Rautha – is by all means a monster. He enjoys a raw display of his machismo and has a sadistic joy while seeing others in pain. A grand character introduction sequence makes no bones about Rautha’s assertive presence.

Austin Butler’s chilling performance draws you towards Rautha but strangely you don’t desert him too. He is after power, has his weaknesses and still has some class in the way he carries himself. The action choreography is as larger than life as it can get – Denis Villeneuve provides you with all the instinctive highs but the bigger battles are resolved through strategy and not warfare.

It helps that the creators don’t merely reduce Dune to a money-making franchise and stay true to the intent of its source material. Timothee Chalamet in a career-defining performance has a role whose trajectory coincides with his steady growth as an actor – from a capable performer to a star on the rise. Zendaya in the shoes of Chani is powerful and intense as a woman bringing groundedness to the story.

Rebecca Ferguson is quite riveting to watch when Jessica goes wild with her newly acquired responsibilities. Javier Bardem’s steely portrayal of a patriarch with old-world beliefs, Florence Pugh’s assurance as a princess with a clear head, Lea Seydoux’s laidback charm enhance its appeal. Hans Zimmer’s credentials are aptly utilised; the legend masterfully builds the brooding environment through his tense and occasionally pulsating score.

Setting up the dystopian ambience with its mythical subtext, Greig Fraser’s stellar cinematography captures the raw beauty and hope within the desert, the desolate atmosphere within grand kingdoms.


Dune Part Two is a classic slow-burn war drama charting the rise of a young prince in a dystopian backdrop with grandiose action, well-etched-out characters and solid emotional buildup. It takes time to grow on you, but it’s quite worthy of your patience.

Rating: 3.5/5