Dune 2

Starring . Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Javier Bardem , Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux

Written &Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Rating: ** ½

True confession: I didn’t think the first Dune was the Great Big Epic it was meant to be. And Timothee Chalamet for all his call-me-by-your-name charms, is terribly miscast as exiled emperor of the Atreides empire.A bit like casting Hrithik Roshan as Akbar.

Sure, Chalamet is intense. But he sadly over-spends his youthful charm. The softness of his performance makes it impossible to believe he is supposed to lead a whole nation. There is nothing messianic about Chalamet’s unimposing personality.

God forbid if anyone is complaining,least of all the Dune school students who will sit in rapt attention watching Chalamet do anything the script wants him to(except get Armie Hammer to lead the opposing army).

The post-apocalyptic world relies heavily on concurrent bouts of images straight from T S Eliot’s epic poem Wasteland. This is a world denuded of water resources . The lack of moisture is prevalent in the dry storytelling where every vestige of emotion is shunned.

There is this unintentionally funny moment when someone sheds a tear and the other person licks it quickly .

Can’t allow water to be wasted, can we?

Talent? Now that’s another matter, the second part of Dune saga brings in hefty actors who weren’t a part of the first film, like the veteran Christopher Walken who plays the King who must face the indignity of having to kneel and kiss the cool Duke of The Dune, Chalamet’s ring at the end, which I understand, is the equivalent of kissing ass in common parlance.

Before Chalamet’s Duke can announce his supremacy to the world he must fight his cousin, the evil Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen(warning: do not try to pronounce that name at home without proper assistance). The stage is set against a fantastic sunset backdrop.And this is as good a place as any to tell you that cinematographer Greig Fraser is the real hero of the rather arid desert spectacle.

Alas, again Chalamet looks far less warrior-like than his adversary played with a punkish pugilism by Austin Butler(who had played another kind of punk named Elvis Presley not too long ago). Chalamet is clearly unequal to his messianic task. But the script, woven almost wholly around his character’s journey from the deserts to the throne, won’t take a no for an answer.

There are many pushes and pulls in the screenplay that determine the ebb and flow of this masterfully assembled saga of aqueous hankerings.While the action is staged with suitable opulence, the heart of the matter is pretty vacuous. Is this what Shakespeare meant by sound and fury signifying nothing?

Oh, by the way the characters speak a alien tongue. Don’t try to find the language Google.The kingdom of Dune dances to its own tune. It is enrapturing only if you pretend to follow all the characters and their mysterious militancy,without looking for coherence or rationale.