The Conqueror Worm

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My first thought after seeing the first installment of Dune in October of 2021 was that any audience willing to sit through a sand drenched space opera for 160-minutes would be willing to sit through the same for four hours.

Theater and studio economics aside, roadshow engagements like the ones that existed in the 1960s are not feasible today. We should just be thankful that the sequel aptly titled Dune: Part Two rolls out before star Timothée Chalet (Paul Atreides) turns 30.

Any film that corrals Christopher Walken into a normal performance sans inflection laden dialogue deserves a look-see.

Dune: Part Two continues the story from Dune, same director, same studio. No doubt it will be lost on most audiences that the same corporate entity that was being lambasted for suppressing a Road Runner/Coyote movie (Coyote vs. Acme) for a tax write-off two weeks ago will release a box office goldmine later this week. Advance IMAX screenings are already sold out days in advance.

Dune: Part Two is more engrossing than the first installment plus there’s a bittersweet ending that adds a layer of poignant retrospection to everything that has come before.

My favorite sequence was the gladiator style duel to the death between Paul and Feyd-Rutha (Austin Butler looking like he stepped out of a Mad Max flick).

Dune Part 2 has a serious sci-fi feel and retrograde texture, and while not comparing the Lynch 1984 version this sequel avoids some of the kinky pitfalls in which other sci-fi franchises dwell.

The Lynch version from 1984 has its own peculiar charm. After all who can’t get behind Patrick Stewart with sides running with the royal dog, a pug, under his arms during an invasion. There’s also the unrealized Jordorowsky version but that’s another kettle of fish.

By contrast director and co-writer Denis Villeneuve concentrates on the seriousness of what is going on. Yet, unless you’ve read the six books that constitute what author Frank Herbert wrought you have to ask yourself what exactly is it that’s going on with Dune?

There are desert worms that are huge, bigger than the one in Tremors.

Fortunately a handful of my colleagues more knowledgable than your humble scribe were able to educate me after the press screening as to the nature of the proceedings.

You see, there are multiple families from different worlds that are involved in the whole affair taking place on Arrakis.

Arrakis while not a home planet to the warring clans is the source of spice. In the cosmology of Dune spice is the most valuable commodity in the universe.

There’s also select breeding of the families and how that relates to Paul. The marriage of his father (Duke Leto played by Oscar Issac who got killed in Dune) and mother (Jessica played by Rebecca Ferguson who got killed in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning) in of itself procreates a royal lineage from two different planets. Mama Atreides is either a savior to the desert people or the Madalyn Murray O’Hair of the tenth millennium.

One film critic casually mentioned having read the book three times. Wow, I read all of Dostoevsky instead of Herbert or Heinlein and once was enough.

Dune: Part Two offers something for everyone. Cynics will applaud a cast of would be messiahs and prophets achieving nothing less than a Pyrrhic victory. Believers will see the layers of genre stacked like a canyon of shale, limestone, and marble. Impressive production values and flawless cinematography boost the heroic antics to spectacular results.

Which is not to say that even at the best of times Dune: Part Two decidedly marches to its own idiosyncratic beat.

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