Review ‘Dune: Part Two’

Denis Villeneuve returns to wow the world by again adapting the unadaptable in Dune: Part Two. A gripping epic whose powerful storytelling eloquently unfolds Frank Herbert’s dense source material to deliver a two-hour and forty-six-minute masterpiece filled with captivating visuals, jaw-dropping performances, and an ethereal score.

Following the events of the first film, Dune: Part Two continues the story of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) as he lives amongst the Fremen on Arrakis. Exposed to Spice and the ways of the Fremen, he and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) become part of their world and culture while facing some reluctance. In terms of how they feel about ‘the foreigners’, the Fremen are divided, some believing in the prophecy of a Messiah and others remaining nonbelievers. Javier Bardem plays Stilgar, leader of the Fremen and believer in Lisan al Gaib. Chani, played by Zendaya, is a nonbeliever who begins to show Paul the ways of the Fremen. But looming over them is the threat of the Harkonnens, who although have met intense resistance on Arrakis against the Fremen, will introduce a new and more ruthless evil in the form of Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler). 

Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha. Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

Amongst an overwhelming amount of hype and critical acclaim, it’s clear to audiences around the world that this film is an instant classic great enough to stand against some of the biggest films to premiere in our time. Having faced comparisons to legendary sequels like The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Dune: Part Two is truly a monumental achievement in filmmaking and a theater-going experience audiences haven’t lived through in decades. The care and diligence Villeneuve has for the source material and the filmmaking process is evident while watching and the biggest reason this film is such a masterpiece. It doesn’t shy away from the denser parts of the narrative but instead unravels difficult themes and storylines so that even audiences who do not frequent science fiction can understand and enjoy the movie all the same.

Every technical aspect of the film is astounding and groundbreaking, from the impressive performances to the brilliant cinematography by Greig Fraser to the transcendent score by Hans Zimmer. A meeting of some of the greatest creative minds of our time, brought to life by some of Hollywood’s most faceted actors. Zendaya as Chani is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from her before. This is undoubtedly the best performance of her career yet, blowing anything she did as Rue in HBO’s Euphoria out of the water. Her performance improves as the film goes on and once we reach that final sequence, it’s Chani who brings the nuances of those epic moments to life.

Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica is absolute perfection. There are so few actresses with the range and ability to deliver such a nuanced performance as the Reverend Mother. Not only is she maternal and loving towards Paul, she’s also frightening, intimidating, and downright unsettling. Another standout is Javier Bardem, who humanizes the film by delivering poignant comedy throughout but also a vulnerability in his beliefs that drives audiences to love him beyond his standout moments as comedic relief. But, of course, the standout performance of this film comes from Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atriedes (and many, many other names). Without giving too much away, it suffices to say that Paul undergoes a massive transformation and Chalamet plays it perfectly. He begins the franchise as a timid, young boy eager to play a role in the politics constantly shrouding his world and eventually grows into somebody very different by the time these credits roll. He’s a force who commands the screen every time he’s on it and delivers a powerful performance that won’t soon be forgotten by audiences around the world.

Movie-goers and cinephiles have not seen a cinematic achievement like this in decades, especially in the realm of science fiction. Passion bleeds through the screen in this project and every shot, piece of dialogue and expression is a perfect fit in Villeneuve’s puzzle. It all comes together so seamlessly that it’s hard to believe Frank Herbert’s source material was widely considered to be unadaptable for so many years. Villeneuve has shaken the world and again proven his superhuman abilities and artistry, giving us an epic tale that feels satisfying in every way possible from beginning to end. Our only gripe is that we’ll have to wait a few years until we get the next installment.

Watch the trailer for Dune: Part Two below

Warner Brothers releases Dune : Part Two in theatres on March 1, 2024

[Review by guest blogger Jurgen Sosa]