Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Dune: Part Two: 8 Amazing Moments From the Sequel

Dune: Part Two finally hit theaters after an eternal wait. Thankfully, the Denis Villeneuve movie lives up to the hype as a jaw-dropping spectacle that needs to be viewed on the largest screen possible. Time will tell if the picture goes down as a classic sequel alongside the likes of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Aliens, The Godfather: Part II, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Dark Knight, but for now, I feel comfortable labeling it an enormous cinematic success, mainly due to several memorable scenes that stick with you long after the credits roll.

Wondering which scenes left a lasting impression? Grab your sandworm and ride the dunes of this list to uncover the standout moments.

Hans Zimmer’s Score

Right off the bat, I need to give a shout-out to Hans Zimmer’s incredible score. As with the original Dune, the iconic composer doesn’t deliver a traditional soundtrack filled with heroic themes. Instead, his music mixes with the sound design, producing interesting sounds that thrust you into this strange new universe. While I don’t think his work on Dune: Part Two tops Part One, it’s still a unique achievement in and of itself, defying conventional norms and benefiting from its unorthodox approach.

Paul Rides a Worm

From the moment we saw that dude surfing atop a sandworm at the end of Dune: Part One, I’ve wondered how Villeneuve would tackle Paul’s first ride without making it silly. The sequence could easily dive head-first into camp or, worse, provide an avenue for simplistic Marvel-style humor, during which characters would undermine the moment with meta jabs at its absurdity.

Thankfully, Villeneuve steps to the plate and knocks the sequence out of the park. From the moment Paul ventures to the top of a giant dune with a pair of grappling hooks to the moment in which he turns a giant worm into the coolest surfboard on the block, Paul’s first ride engulfs the viewer with its incredible visuals, theater-shaking sound, and breathtaking action. To his credit, Villeneuve spends a lot of time teasing the set piece before delivering the goods, making it all the more satisfying.

Creepy Jessica

After her glaring look at Paul at the end of Dune: Part One, I figured Jessica would go bonkers somehow. Little did I know she’d spend the majority of the film talking to a fetus, drinking worm piss, and using that gnarly Voice power to keep her friends and enemies in check. Rebecca Ferguson ventured into evil territory in Doctor Sleep, where her character was charismatic and borderline monstrous. In Dune: Part Two, however, the actress dials up the creep factor, turning Lady Jessica into a dark soul driven by her cause to transform Paul into the Kwisatz Haderach.

Now, I know next to nothing about Dune lore, so I’m still curious if Paul truly is the long-prophesied ruler or a kid armed with a substantial amount of coincidence, but we do see Jessica pulling the strings behind the scenes, urging others to believe in her son. Her final conversation with Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohair (Charlotte Rampling, who I just realized was in that psycho Killer Whale movie Orca) is satisfying and alarming. (As a side, Paul shouting “Silence!” at the Reverend Mother likewise produced an equal dose of gasps and chills.)

Paul’s Transformation

I’ve seen Dune: Part Two twice, and each viewing conjured different emotions. On my initial watch, I thought Paul’s sudden (and shocking) transformation from kind, humble lad to tyrannical leader was cool — but, like, Michael Myers cool. He broke bad, and now it was just a matter of watching how far into the darkness he would traverse to achieve his goals.

On my second viewing, I found his entire story more tragic. Paul doesn’t do what he does to attain power. His goals emerge after his visions reveal a narrow way to achieve victory. Ultimately, he wants to free Dune and its people from the Emperor’s grasp, defeat the Harrkonens, and avenge his family. Unfortunately, a single path exists to accomplish these objectives, forcing him to resort to violence. In other words, he has no choice. Freeing Arrakis requires the ultimate sacrifice on his part, which in turn leads to his self-destruction.

Complex stuff. Am I the only one who felt Paul’s transformation put Anakin’s fall in Revenge of the Sith to shame? On that point, does Dune put Star Wars to shame? I kept picturing Paul running around with a lightsaber and could only lament what might have been had George Lucas (and Disney) taken better care of their product.

On a side note, the standout moment featuring Paul, cloaked in darkness, strolling through the desert with a sandworm leaping in the background is arguably the most breathtaking shot in the entire film. A close second is an overhead view of Paul navigating through the Fremen, captured as if he were seamlessly parting grains of sand. Absolutely mesmerizing visuals.

Stilgar’s Unshakable Faith

Dune: Part Two contains a surprising amount of levity, primarily thanks to Javier Bardem’s stoic but naive Stilgar. The Fremen leader believes Paul to be the prophesied Mahdi sent to free his people from captivity. Stilgar spends much of his screen time looking for validation of his beliefs to a comical degree. Every action or inaction from Paul somehow confirms his identity to Stilgar. At one point, Paul tells the Fremen that he is not the Muad’Dib, leading Stilgar to proclaim his humility as another sign. Of course, this unabashed belief leads to a terrible Holy War. So, while Stilgar’s antics are quite funny, they come with a terrible price.

Feyd-Rautha and the Final Fight

While underutilized, Austin Butler’s villainous Feyd-Rautha still gets enough time to strut his stuff. Notably, an extended gladiator sequence where he battles three men to the death and a climactic and violent confrontation with Paul. (His scene with the lovely Lea Seydoux is absolutely electric.)

On that note, said final confrontation is impeccably choreographed and very, very intense. Feyd gets the upper hand against Paul multiple times, but even his villainy can’t outshine the alleged prophecy. Paul wins by the skin of his teeth. Still, Feyd proved formidable enough to make us doubt Paul’s fate — a hard feat to pull off in a sci-fi epic other films have ripped off for decades.

Restraint Action

As promised, Dune: Part Two features a lot more action. Yet, to his credit, Villeneuve doesn’t allow the big set pieces to overshadow the characters. As in Part One, he presents efficient battle scenes that do their job without succumbing to outrageous CGI nonsense and shows a surprising amount of restraint where others might have turned their inner child loose.

In the final battle, for example, Paul arrives, fires off some nukes, launches a few sandworms, and then sends his men in to attack. We don’t see the entire battle, just enough to understand the logistics and strategy. I admire that, particularly in this day and age of effects-driven blockbusters.

The lengthiest action beat occurs early on and features Paul and Zendaya’s Chani taking down a Harkonnen spice thingy. Even this scene leans more on character than action and doesn’t bog down the story. Think of Dune as the anti-modern blockbuster — big on ideas, light on nonsense. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much.

Chani’s Choice

Finally, I dug the ending. I’m not sure what becomes of Chani and Paul. Fans of the books tell me she stands by his side through thick and thin, whereas Villeneuve seems to set up a final conflict between the star-crossed lovers. Overall, I understand why Chani leaves Paul, even if I disagree with her.

See, Paul spends the entire film running from his destiny. On multiple occasions, he tells Chani about his horrible future premonitions that reveal death and destruction should he give into his mother’s demands. At a certain point, following a disastrous Harkonnen attack, Paul gives in and does the only thing he can do: drink worm piss, gather the sight, and lead the Fremen into battle. He also ditches Chani for the Princess — I mean, it’s Florence Pugh! — and starts a Holy War, which Chani has no desire to participate in. She leaves Paul, calls a worm, and we cut to credits.

It mostly makes sense, even if her choice is driven more by emotion. Given everything Paul tells Chani throughout the picture, wouldn’t it make more sense to stick around to ensure he doesn’t fall to the Dark Side? Isn’t that true love? Instead, Chani acts rather impulsively, leading to one helluva cliffhanger.

I hope Villeneuve doesn’t turn Dune: Messiah into a battle between evil Paul and idealistic Chani. Hopefully, he goes hard on the tragic nature of Paul’s downfall and paints him and Chani in complex shades of gray.

As we await the next installment, the extended journey seems poised to be just as thrilling as the destination. Here’s to hoping Villeneuve continues to weave a captivating narrative in Dune: Messiah.

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