A&E Review

“Dune: Part Two” Review: A Worthy Sequel 

Screenshot of Dune Instagram Courtesy of @dunemovie

*Contains spoilers for the first film

Very rarely do sequels improve upon their predecessor. There are the obvious standouts in this category, “The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Godfather Part II” and “The Dark Knight,” to name a few. It’s safe to say that “Dune: Part Two” can be included in this list. 

Director Denis Villeneuve introduced us to the Dune universe in 2021 with his adaptation of the 1965 science-fiction novel. At first watch, the original installment was somewhat hard to follow and needed a heavy dose of context for those completely unfamiliar with the books. 

Part one follows Paul Atreides, played by Timothee Chalamet, as his father, the Duke of House Atreides, is given control of the planet Arrakis. Arrakis is a desert planet where spice is harvested. The spice is what powers interstellar travel and also has mystical effects on people’s minds, allowing humans to see the future or do complex math in their heads. 

Atreides’ mortal enemy, House Harkonnen, once had control over Arrakis until the imperial government shifted it to the Atreides. The Atreides are suspicious of this move, and rightfully so, as the Harkonnens ambush the Atreides on Arrakis, murdering the Duke and the rest of House Atreides. Everyone was killed, except Paul and his mother, Jessica, a member of the Bene Gesserit, a sisterhood of spiced-out “witches.” 

Paul and Jessica escape to the desert where they encounter huge sandworms and eventually find the indigenous people of Arrakis, the Fremen. Throughout the first film, Paul has dreams of the Fremen, specifically of a girl named Chani, played by Zendaya, whom he finally meets at the end of the first film. Some Fremen also believe Paul to be some sort of Messiah, whom they call Lisan Al-Gaib, due to his training in the Bene Gesserit ways and his inherent knowledge of the desert. Paul and his mother join the Fremen and that’s where we left off. 

While much of part one was Villeneuve building the Dune world, part two fully trusts that the viewer has a strong understanding of the world. In its nearly three-hour runtime, the film hardly ever takes a breath. The story picks up right where it left off in the first movie and moves at an incredibly fast pace. 

This isn’t a bad thing though; this rapid pacing was necessary for Villeneuve to pull off due to the mass amount of information that is given in the book. He does it incredibly well too, and you never feel like you can’t keep up with the story. The balance between action and dialogue is extremely well done. 

A standout in both films — but even more so in the second film — are the special effects and cinematography. It’s comforting to see a sci-fi film lean into aesthetics and beautiful cinematography considering most action movies aren’t focused on that in the slightest. Every frame is jaw-dropping and so immersive. There’s something to be said about that too, because making a desolate desert planet look interesting isn’t easy. However, Villeneuve can capture Arrakis’ raw and vast desert masterfully, especially when the sandworms make an appearance. When paired with Hans Zimmer’s intense score it only further immerses the viewer in the world. 

The cast also does a great job. These star-studded films usually tend to be rather disappointing, never fully living up to the hype but, “Dune: Part Two” uses its actors to their best abilities. Austin Butler’s portrayal of Feyd Rautha, the psychotic nephew to the Baron of House Harkonnen, is especially pleasing to watch. Butler looks unrecognizable as he brings this evil and unpredictable character to life. 

At the center of it all is Timothee Chalamet whose portrayal of Paul Atreides gets better after every watch. Paul is such a complex character with a strong internal moral tug of war, and Chalamet can portray this inner conflict with a great intensity. 

That’s what makes this film so interesting; the conflict is so much bigger than one, big battle scene. There’s no shortage of action but the conflict also lies in the religious aspect of Paul’s character, and on top of that how it impacts the political climate of the imperial government. The good guys and bad guys aren’t glaringly obvious, another factor that makes this movie so intriguing. The underlying religious and political themes of the film are so complex that there isn’t one way to view the film. A blockbuster with this amount of intricacy is refreshing to see out of Hollywood, and my only hope is that we continue to see more films like it.