After Christopher Nolan Compares Dune: Part Two To The Empire Strikes Back, Denis Villeneuve Has Responded

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Written By Maya Cantina

When it comes to sequels, a comparison to The Empire Strikes Back is just about as good as it gets. After all, the Star Wars film is widely regarded as one of the best sequels of all time given its expansion of the original narrative, the way it adds layers to the characters, and its numerous iconic set pieces. For any movie to be put side-by-side with the 1980 classic is almost stupidly high praise – which is why its not all that surprising that Denis Villeneuve has a humble reaction to Christopher Nolan’s recent commentary about Dune: Part Two.

Earlier this month, Raiders of the Lost Podcast posted a video of Christopher Nolan likening the upcoming sci-fi epic to the beloved second film in the Star Wars franchise, and out sister site Games Radar recently followed up with the Dune: Part Two director asking how he felt about the comparison. As you would expect, the French-Canadian filmmaker didn’t immediately claim that his movie was superior to the classic, and instead was gracious about both the critique and its source:

It’s a comparison that I would have never dared to do myself. I think it’s a beautiful compliment because Empire Strikes Back is by far my favourite Star Wars movie. So, it’s like, coming from Chris [Nolan], an incredible compliment.

It’s a bit funny for Dune: Part Two to be compared to The Empire Strikes Back given that Frank Herbert’s Dune was massively influential in George Lucas’ original creation of Star Wars. It’s a funny pop culture ouroboros. That being said, the parallels are pretty clear. Like Empire, the new 2024 blockbuster is designed as the middle chapter in a three-part arc (Denis Villeneuve envisions the completion of a trilogy with an adaptation of Dune: Messiah), and the film does all three of the things I highlighted in the first paragraph in relation to Dune: Part One: it grows the world, deepens the characters, and is jaw-dropping in its visual splendor. There are other more spoilery comparisons that could be made, but I’ll hold off on discussing them pre-release for those of you who haven’t read the book and already know what’s coming.

Dune: Part Two picks up where the previous film left off, with Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) getting adopted by Fremen society following the destruction of House Atreides. While Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) and Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (Christopher Walken) conspire to restart brutal spice mining operations on the planet Arrakis, Paul and the Fremen begin to fight back against the occupying forces – though Paul is plagued by visions of the future where his leadership eventually leads to the deaths of millions. The outstanding ensemble cast also includes Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Léa Seydoux, Souheila Yacoub, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista and Charlotte Rampling.

Arriving on a massive wave of positive buzz from critics, Dune: Part Two is almost here – set to arrive in theaters everywhere this Friday, March 1. As I note in my five-star review for CinemaBlend, it’s a cinematic experience that you want to have on the biggest screen possible, so buy your tickets now. And, of course, stay tuned here on the site for plenty of coverage about the film in the weeks ahead.

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