FILM REVIEWS: sandblast your senses with Dune 2, plus Lisa Frankenstein

Dune 2 is set to be this year’s biggest film to date, and the duty manager’s eyes at the refurbished Slug & Lettuce in Brindleyplace opened like saucers when I told him I was off to see it on Friday morning.

“I can’t wait to see that myself,” he said. “That’s one for  the big screen, not on your telly at home.”

Correct! And, luckily, Westside has four of the best screens in the entire Midlands in which to appreciate the sheer craftsmanship involved.

Odeon Luxe Broadway Plaza has iSense and Dolby Screen 3 among its 12 theatres. And Cineworld Broad Street has IMAX and 4DX – where your seat moves in tune with the action and delivers other sensory features too.

DUNE 2 (12A, 167 mins). Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario / Blade Runner 2049) dreamed as a teenager of turning Dune into a movie.  Now he’s finished the second part of a possible trilogy that looks as if it will be as timeless as the sand dunes on the planet Arrakis.

Adapted from Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, heartthrob Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides, helping the Fremen people to battle the House Harkonnen. The all-star but non-showy cast includes Rebecca Ferguson as Paul’s mother, Josh Brolin as Paul’s mentor, Gurney Halleck and Zandaya as Fremen warrior / love interest Chani, Christopher Walken as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, with Florence Pugh as his daughter, Princess Irulan.

Before the film begins we learn that controlling ‘spice’, a mineral which stimulates supernatural abilities, is key to success.

The verdict: **** Dune 2 works as a standalone movie and has more action than the first instalment in 2021. It’s somehow been rated a 12A, but be warned – there are multiple knife and violence-to-the-head scenes that would not be out of place in a 15.

As impenetrable as the marathon story is if you aren’t prepared to study it, the film is a relentlessly-watchable visual and aural treat regardless, with topical echoes of the current situation in Gaza, too.

Chalamet is terrific as the warrior torn between finding love, preserving humanity against a future only he can foresee and seeking revenge against those who destroyed his own family. 

But all of the character-first cast members shine by working with a director who clearly understands his craft and loves this subject in equal measure.

The cinematography is outstanding and the score by Hans Zimmer one of his very best – the main theme will have the longevity of the best blockbuster scores associated with movies like The Terminator, Titanic and Lord of the Rings. 

Some reviewers have said this is the Lawrence of Arabia of sci-fi movies. Sorry, no film on this scale has ever matched David Lean and Peter O’Toole from 1962 – but Dune 2 is better than Star Wars and Marvel combined!

Villeneuve’s visionary wide-and-close-up style echoes British brothers Ridley and the late Tony Scott. Like Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer), his giant scope is helping to replace water-obsessed action king James Cameron, sadly still missing on dry land 30 years after True Lies. Enjoy.

LISA FRANKENSTEIN (15, 101 mins). In this ‘romantic horror comedy / coming of rage story set in the 1980s, a Victorian-era corpse (Cole Sprouse) is unwittingly brought back to life by a lonely teenage girl (Kathryn Newton) whose mother was murdered. Written by Diablo Cody (Juno), Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Williams directs. 

The verdict: ** Zelda might be a Williams, but the inspiration here is clearly more Tim Burton than her genius late father, whom I had the pleasure of meeting three times in London over the years.

Like some of Burton’s own work such as Mars Attacks!, Williams’ movie is something of an acquired taste, hitting the button one minute and off target the next. But teenage girls with a gothic mentality will forgive its inconsistencies by enjoying the silliness.

By inventively seeking severed body parts to rebuild our new friend in all departments, Lisa Frankenstein is a bizarre cross between three recent, superior movies – The Promised Land, Saltburn and Poor Things.

Picture credits: Dune 2, Warner Bros;Lisa Frankenstein, Universal.


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