‘Dune: Part Two’ is the movie of the year

By George Schroeder | LTVN Executive Producer

I know a battle for spice, the “Lisan Al Giab,” riding giant sandworms and a weird, bald Austin Butler may not sound like a classic recipe for success in the film industry, but that combination delivered the best movie of the year in “Dune: Part Two, and it’s only April.

In an era of blockbusters falling flat, stale writing, agenda-seeped storylines and Hollywood controversy, moviegoers were just given what they deserve — and it’s shocking what they’ve been missing.

“Dune: Part Two” likely won’t win Best Picture (but man, I hope it does) because Hollywood is full of pretentious “critics” who prioritize showing off how much they know about cinema rather than the things that actually come together to make an enjoyable movie. That being said, it may be the best movie released in my lifetime. It is simply phenomenal.

Over the past few years, so many movies have fallen short of the expectations of the budgets they command. Films like “The Flash,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” didn’t quite feel like the multimillion-dollar blockbusters they were supposed to be.

“Dune: Part Two” does not have that problem. First, credit goes to Frank Herbert, the original author of the Dune series, for the creativity it takes to produce such a fantastical, compelling world. But director Denis Villeneuve has brought his universe to life in spectacular fashion.

This movie was created on a $200 million budget, and you see every penny on the screen. The cinematography, visual effects, music, sound design, practical sets and incredible acting give the viewer what they paid to see, and it has been well rewarded at the box office … and by yours truly.

At this point, I have seen it five times. I paid to see this movie five times. I have never seen one individual movie in theaters five times. You would think by the fifth viewing, parts of the movie would be uninteresting to me. That wasn’t the case at all, and it has everything to do with every element of filmmaking I just referenced.

If you don’t believe me, ask Steven Spielberg, who told Villeneuve, “You have made one of the most brilliant science-fiction films I’ve ever seen.” If that doesn’t convince you, fine; it doesn’t need to. Let the box office speak for itself. Worldwide, “Dune: Part 2” just surpassed $660 million.

Spielberg is right. It is easily the best science-fiction movie released in my lifetime and truly one of the best of all time. Regardless of whether you agree with that take, at the very least, it is one of the greatest cinematic experiences of all time — if not the greatest.

And before I go any further, let me address one thing. I really don’t like people throwing “The Empire Strikes Back” around when comparing this movie to others. George Lucas not only helmed one of the greatest sequels of all time, but he did it by literally revolutionizing the film industry through Star Wars, and the Dune franchise hasn’t done that, … but it is still an absolutely astonishing achievement.

That being said, while I am clearly entirely bought into the ‘Duniverse’ (clever, right?), even on a fifth viewing of the film in only a few weeks, there is still a scene that has literally given me goosebumps each time I saw it: Paul Atreides riding the sandworm.

Maybe it was the 18 miles of eco-friendly road built in the Jordan desert to find the right sand dunes to capture the perfect cinematography. Maybe it was the fact that they built a 90-foot by 24-foot set piece for the sandworm to combine with stellar visual effects. Maybe it was the absolutely magnificent score from the legendary Hans Zimmer.

Whatever it is, it captivates you. You are there. You believe it. The visuals, effects, sound, music, acting and pacing are enough to shoot a shiver down anyone’s spine in the best possible way.

My experience in the cinema during my first viewing of that scene was unlike any I have ever had in the theater, and the feeling grips you from the very beginning until the very end of the film.

I have never sunk deeper into a franchise so quickly. An outstanding cast simply becomes the characters they portray. Personally, Rebecca Ferguson and Stellan Skarsgård are my favorites, but Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Austin Butler, Javier Bardem, Florence Pugh and, yes, Christopher Walken are just so, so good as well.

Zimmer’s music for the franchise is some of the most striking, bold and moving of any movie I have seen in a long time (and it won him an Oscar for the first film). By the way, “Kiss the Ring” is now one of my favorite pieces of film score. Cinematographer Greig Fraser — who also won an Oscar for “Dune: Part One” — once again delivers a beautiful, calculated piece of art.

Every aspect of Villeneuve’s universe is perfect in its place and only pulls you deeper and deeper into the story.

It may sound corny — a story about religious space prophecies, giant sandworms, floating galactic dictators, blue-eyed sand people and the Bene Gesserit (What? I know. Just watch the movie.) — but it is seriously compelling and strikingly phenomenal.

The movie’s ability to consistently deliver the same experience is its triumph. It is really a work of art. I’ve barely scratched the surface, so maybe I’ll end it right there.

As of now, “Dune: Part Two” is headed back to IMAX for an extended run beginning on April 19 and is still playing in your local theater. Don’t miss it.

Consider me the Lisan Al Giab, your “Voice from the Outer World,” and this article as the sign of my coming when I tell you this: Go see “Dune: Part Two” in theaters. It’s not too late. You don’t want to miss the movie of the year or the cinematic experience of a lifetime.