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Power over Spice is power over the box office

“Dune: Part Two” featuring sietches, sandworms and spice
(The Cavalier Daily)

The sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 “Dune” has made over 626 million dollars worldwide, and it begins with the sentence “Power over Spice is power over all.” Spice is the psychoactive drug unique to the fictional world of Arrakis that allows space travel by allowing some individuals to see limited futures and use that to travel through space.

This makes Spice imperative for space travel and has made it the most important resource in the galaxy.

On Arrakis also live the Fremen, a hardened people adapted to the deserts, who have blue eyes due to Spice exposure. These people fight like no others and better than any, and that point is driven home across the entire movie.

“Dune: Part Two” picks up right at the end of “Dune,” with Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) having just killed a Fremen warrior in ritual combat and joining the Fremen in going to their home in the desert. Paul and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), join the Fremen, with Jessica becoming a religious leader and Paul learning the ways of the desert.

Paul wrestles with his potential as a Messiah for the Fremen and the religious Bene Gesserit throughout the movie, at first denying he is eithers.

This conflict adds depth to Paul and helps us track his evolution, be it through his fears of provoking a war or his desire to conserve friends. Because prophets don’t have friends. They have followers.

In every respect, especially aesthetically, the movie is a masterpiece. The special effects are breathtaking, with the scenes of Paul riding giant sand worms sending shivers down your spine. The Harkonnen arena scene contributes to a sci-fi sense of awe, despite the old-school black-and-white color palette.

The costumes are magnificently realistic, transporting you to the world of Dune. Hans Zimmer’s music for the movie also lends a sense of awe and magnificence. The story follows the first “Dune” book very closely, with only a few minor details changed or left out. 

The casting is fantastic, with Chalamet playing Paul to perfection. The character Chani is the emotional core of the movie, a part actress Zendaya fulfills magnificently.  Austin Butler undergoes a fantastic transformation into the cold killer Feyd-Rautha, who is a kind of anti-Paul.

Returning cast include Stellen Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, the ruler of House Harkonnen, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, a member of House Atreides military and friend to both Paul and his father, Javier Bardem as a Fremen named Stilgar who recognizes Paul’s potential as both a warrior and savior, among others.

Newcomers include Christopher Walken as the Emperor and Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan, a cunning princess trained in the Bene Gesserit ways.

Something interesting was that Arrakis is continually referred to and shown to be a wasteland, where heat kills, if the worms don’t get you first, and most indigenous technology has been developed in the effort to conserve water. And yet it is the most desolate planet in the galaxy that is the key to incredible wealth.

The Fremen hope to turn it into a partial paradise, but they also wish to keep the desert, as its toughness forges them. No nobles want to live on Arrakis, but anyone would do anything to take control of it, demonstrating the paradox: Comfort is desired, but power is priceless beyond comfort, and power buys comfort, especially when that power is Spice.

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