Movie Review: ‘Dune: Part Two’ continues the dystopian dream of ‘Part two’

Dune: Part Two centers on Paul's wrestle with this messianic destiny. Like “Lawrence of Arabia,” he's a white protagonist from the West (or “Outer World”) leading a dark-skinned revolt against oppressors he has close ties to in a Middle Eastern-like desert.

Some historians believe the alt-right misunderstood Herbert's metaphor-filled novel for its racist politics. Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts' script, which references this tradition and the white-savior stereotype, seems aware of it. As in many of these two films, imagery and movement are key to the story.

The Harkonnens—white, bald, and violent—represent colonialism. The film features the Harkonnen prince Feyd-Rautha (a hairless Austin Butler who looks too much like 1995's albino protagonist “Powder”) in the midst of “Part Two,” who is the reverse of Paul. He could command Arrakis.

The picture loses momentum when Villeneuve changes to Feyd-Rautha's story instead of Paul and Chani. The comparison is instructive. Feyd-Rautha brutally fights three Atreides survivors in a gigantic colosseum, bleached in monochrome like “Triumph of the Will,” supersized.

This film confronts the power dynamics of the source material and prior Hollywood depictions of first-and-third world conflicts. Everyone is doubtful, too. The movie's perspective comes from Charlotte Rampling's exhausted, hooded visage as the matriarch of the Bene Gesserit (again, the names!), a mystic organization that controls “Dune”'s cosmic politics. She plays with “no sides” and raw calculation.

As “Part Two” gathers everyone for the finale, it loses steam. The Emperor (Christopher Walken) and his daughter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) appear sometimes to discuss Arrakis' affairs. While Walken's companionship is always welcome, he may be too warm for “Dune”—too much of Earth yet appearing on his own world.

Even if Hans Zimmer's score and Mark Mangini and Theo Green's sound design are excellent, the finale's limpness is deeper. I think Villeneuve excels at invocation. He may be sloppy at drawing conclusions, but he's great at conjuring doom, a spacecraft, and a sandworm. Even greater than those serpentine sand creatures (the runaway stars of “Part Two”) is that pounding before them.

The Motion Picture Association rates Warner Bros.' "Dune: Part Two" PG-13 for severe violence, suggestive content, and brief strong language. Runtime: 165 minutes. Three stars out of four.

stay turned for development