Monday, April 22, 2024

Movie Monday: Dune and Dune, Part 2

My husband's all-time favorite book is Dune by Frank Herbert (the best-selling science fiction novel ever and winner of the first Nebula award in 1966). He's read it several times, he's read many of its sequels, and he's seen the 1984 movie adaptation. He was so excited when the recent Dune movie adaptation was released in 2021 and really wanted to see it on the big screen, but we missed it (I'm immune compromised, and theaters were still off-limits). He watched it by himself on TV when it hit streaming. When we heard that Dune: Part 2 was coming out this year, I told him I would watch the first movie with him at home, so we could see the sequel in the theater (I wear a mask). That's just what we did recently! We both enjoyed this fast-paced, epic sci fi adventure.

This is a complicated science fiction universe, so bear with me here--my husband will help me with a simple description (and of course, I will avoid all spoilers)! Arrakis is a desert planet, set tens of thousands of years in the future. It is the native home of the Fremen, people who live in harmony with the environment. But the huge sand dunes contain a powerful drug, melange, which is known as spice. Spice has many uses, including allowing people to travel faster than the speed of light, so everyone wants to control Arrakis and the spice mining and trade. The Emperor has given Arrakis to the House of Atreides to run, though the evil House of Harkonnen wants to control it. Duke Leto, played by Oscar Isaac, and Lady Jessica, played by Rebecca Ferguson, are the heads of House of Atreides, and their son, Paul (played by Timothee Chalamet), is set to inherit it. Lady Jessica is a Bene Gesserit, part of a matriarchal organization whose members possess almost superhuman mental, physical, and sensory powers. The Reverend Mother, played by Charlotte Rampling, comes to test Paul and discovers that his powers are quite strong (due to a combination of genetics and training). Paul has visions of a frightening future, but he doesn't understand them. Paul sees a young Fremen woman named Chani, played by Zendaya, in his visions, and he meets her toward the end of the first movie. The sequel picks up right where the first movie ended (no spoilers), and much of it takes place among the Fremen, where Paul and his mother are hiding.

OK, that was tough, but I think I managed to describe it in simple terms (my husband and Wikipedia both gave me way too much information! ha ha) and without any spoilers. So, clearly, my husband is  superfan and knows all about this universe, and I was coming into it 100% cold. I was very glad we watched the sequel just a few weeks after seeing the first movie. And we both enjoyed it! It's a complex world, yes, but the movie leaves out some of the background detail of the books. I was able to follow the plot and characters without a problem. It's basically a story about the battle for the planet Arrakis between warring Houses, so there are similarities to stories like Game of Thrones (though that is fantasy and this is science fiction) or Star Wars. But I wouldn't call it a war movie. Like those other TV/movie worlds, it is complex story-telling, filled with in-depth characters you get to know, with drama, love, and hate between them. It is also thought-provoking, as it deals with environmental issues and native people's lands being invaded by outsiders. And it's all set against this fascinating, unique world. The cinematography is amazing, and it's definitely one to see on a big screen if you can. Oh, and it has huge, monstrous sandworms! The acting and writing are excellent, and the human dramas have as much impact as the battle scenes. As a superfan, my husband loved it, which I think is high praise, as we all know that some adaptations of our favorite books don't turn out so well. And I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well. From the way Part 2 ended, it is clear there will be another sequel, and we'll be watching it from our recliner seats in the theater!

Dune is available on Hulu, YouTube, and Max, with a subscription, and for $3.99 on many other services, including Amazon Prime.

Dune: Part 2 is still available in some theaters (recliner seats have been game-changers for me!) and for $24.99 on several streaming services, including Amazon Prime.

See where it's playing near you:

Go Fandango!

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