Screen Anarchists On DUNE: PART TWO

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
Dune2HYS-banner.jpgBack when we created our ScreenAnarchy top-10 list of 2021, I lamented the fact that I didn't rally our troops to make a group review for Denis Villeneuve's Dune. Because even though the film topped the leaderboard that year, opinions among us sure were divided.

Will 2024 see a repeat performance by Villeneuve, now that we get the second half (or second third) of his science fiction epos? Its reception, both critical and at the box office, dwarfs the first film. So I did not make the same mistake again: this time, I asked everyone for their opinions, to make a gallery of them! So here are nine mini-reviews. You can click on the small pictures or on the arrows to move between them.

As always, the writer of the original review can start the article, and this time that is Kurt Halfyard. Instead of settling for a quote from his Dune: Part Two review (or even his Dune: Part One review), he wrote a new piece to accompany it. But check out the others as well, because to mis-quote Paul Atreides: Long Live The Writers!

Kurt Halfyard, Paz O'Farrell, Niels Matthijs, Matt Brown, Zach Gayne, Kyle Logan, Olga Artemyeva and Jim Tudor contributed to this story.

Kurt Halfyard, Contributing Writer

Forgive me if I get a bit philosophical here. Film criticism, at its essence, can be boiled down to two questions, “What is the film about?” And “How is the film about it?” Frank Herbert’s Dune is operatic, analog and weird, political, and religious. Dennis Villeneuve’s Dune is barely half those things. Somehow, the inciting incident for the plot itself, conflict between the Emperor’s plans within plans, and the Spacing Guild’s desire to maintain the flow of the substance that runs their transportation business model, is either left to the third part, or removed from the story altogether. That seems like a major storytelling oversight, and the absence undermines much of the conflict we watch unfold. Why are string-pulling, terrifyingly advanced human space-folding brain-slugs excised from the story?

Dune is a gorgeous display of Hollywood resources, one of the finest looking modern blockbuster spectacles, but it still manages to under-deliver on the weirdness or analog, and barely the opera. It is more, as fellow critic Adam Nayman put it so succinctly “a feat of project management,” than the fever-dream, drug addled game of thrones cum jihad of the source material. In our current digital, expedient iPhone existence, it is, I suppose, the movie for our times. That evokes more melancholy than excitement. I wanted dreams, even nightmares, not content. Especially so, given that there is another, recent, expensive desert epic from the same studio, Mad Max: Fury Road which accomplishes just that: a great story with unhinged glee and mania.

Do I want the handsome, and straightforward cultivated aesthetic offered here? Do I want merely stylish iconography, when I have tread the wild, unwieldy, nightmare fuel, tangled forest, of both Herbert’s original novel, and David Lynch’s not-quite-faithful (but somehow more faithful nonetheless) box office fiasco? In short, an adaptation, in my humble opinion, should be more Zardoz, and less Star Wars.

Dune is the modern, ultra-trendy, and instagram ready restaurant which everyone wants to dine, but where the actual food is lacking, well, Spice.

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