Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of February 26, 2024

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of February 26, 2024

Dune: Part Two
Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, brief strong language and some suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
In Theaters

Many of us were surprised upon seeing 2021’s Dune (based not iconic sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert) that the story wasn’t complete, and, if Warner Brothers would greenlight it, a second Dune would be on its way in a few years. Thankfully that happened, and now we have a finished storyline (kinda) about young Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mission to seek revenge for the near genocide of his people shortly after they arrived on the spice planet Arrakis. If you are even a bit fuzzy on the goings on of the first film, I would highly advise that you rewatch it before going to see part two, as this is an amazingly complex narrative that’s easy to get lost in. This sequel takes place immediately following the events of the 2021 film as Paul and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) attempt to join the Freman (the name given to the indigenous desert dwellers) in order to try to create a strategy to take on the people known as the Harkonnen, who, through a massive sneak attack, have managed to take over the spice operations of the planet. As a reminder, without spice, the universe grinds to a halt. So whoever controls the planet, the only source of that spice, becomes all powerful. Joining with Freman leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem) and falling for a young Freman warrior named Chani (Zendaya), Paul finds himself moving up in power, mostly because his very presence and training fit a prophecy long held by the people, that a messiah is coming to help them take back their planet. Again, this is very complex stuff. But it is certainly worth the time and effort to try to understand. The film, once again written and directed by Dennis Villeneuve, is a masterpiece of storytelling, as he takes a novel that has eluded filmmakers for decades and creates a spectacular vision for it. While it is long, the time flies by and manages to be one of the fastest-paced epics ever devised. The acting is terrific, with an incredible cast filled with both well-known actors at the top of their game and many unknown actors keeping up with them admirably. The special effects alone are almost guaranteed to add several Oscars to the six the first film won. And the score by Hans Zimmer (who also won for the first film) manages to top what we heard three years ago. This, in my book, is a perfect film, and sure to be a monstrous hit at the box office, rescuing theaters from the abysmal two months they’ve just suffered through. And the icing on the cake (and something no one is talking about yet): this is part two of three. Something I didn’t know until researching after seeing. While it ends complete enough, Villeneuve plans on bringing Dune: Part Three, rumored to be based on Herbert’s book Dune: Messiah, to theaters in the coming years. And we, the audience, find ourselves in a very lucky place indeed. A+

God Save Texas
Streaming on MAX

Based on the book by Lawrence Wright, this new documentary miniseries, told in three parts, follows three filmmakers telling stories close to their hearts and close to their hometowns. In the first episode, Oscar-nominated director Richard Linklater (Boyhood) goes home to Huntsville to discuss the multitude of prisons in such a small area, and the many problems with the death penalty. Episode two follows Alex Stapleton (Corman’s World) as she visits her hometown of Houston and the effects of the oil and gas industry on her black community that live very close to the refineries. Finally, Iliana Sosa (What We Leave Behind) revisits El Paso to discuss the crisis at our border, from the point of view of the Mexican immigrants who have spent their lives in the U.S. Attempting to show the many facets of what makes Texas Texas, the series does a good enough job of hooking the viewer and getting its points across with these very specific subject matters. By the end of the series, though, it does feel a bit incomplete. Maybe HBO will foot the bill for a few more episodes, exploring even more facets of the state and the issues we all face living here. But for now, the show is very much worth the time invested, especially since much of it takes place in our own back yard. B+