Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Written by: Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Austin Butler, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, Charlotte Rampling
Released: February 29, 2024
Grade: A-

Dune: Part Two

It took longer than expected to reach this point.  Firstly, some folks weren’t aware (before its release) the 2021 movie was only one-half of Frank Herbert’s book, and they’d need to wait for the climax.  Secondly, the Hollywood actors’ strike created marketing woes which saw the arrival date for Dune: Part Two pushed out by four months.  Considering the first instalment grossed over $400m USD internationally and won 6 Academy Awards, expectations are high.

Director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) doesn’t muck around with flashbacks or gentle character reintroductions.  We’re straight into the action with Part Two and background knowledge is essential.  We continue to follow the journey of Paul Atreides (Chalamet), a handsome, nimble warrior who resides on the desert planet of Arrakis and has uncontrolled visions of the future.  Against the advice of his own mother (“your father didn’t believe in revenge”), he goes after the villainous Baron who murdered his dad and other close friends (a plot point of the first film).

It’s clear that Villeneuve, working with co-writer Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), wants this to be more than just action and entertainment.  He delves into an array of interesting themes including the pros and cons of religion, the ability to change one’s predetermined destiny, the realities of colonialism and “white saviour complex”, and the ways in which power invariably leads to suffering (we can’t all be happy no matter who is in charge).  I can’t say I was ever bored, and the 167-minute run time is justified given what needs to be covered.

It’s not perfect though.  In covering several narrative points in depth, like Paul’s continual unwillingness to be seen as a liberator to the native Fremen people, other subplots are rushed and undercooked.  One example is Florence Pugh (Little Women) who plays the sage daughter of the universe’s leader.  She’s introduced in the opening scene, but her purpose and fate (won’t spoil) is difficult to reconcile given we know so little about her own background and political persuasions.  The same could be said of a character played by Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour).

My quibbles are minor is the big scheme of things.  Just like its predecessor, Dune: Part Two deserves its “see it on the big screen” tag and is to be celebrated for its production values – particularly the sets, costumes, and Hans Zimmer (Interstellar) music score.  The visual effects are evident but they’ve bee used to create sequences which are crisp, bold, and striking.  A moment in a packed, grey-coloured arena is a case in point.

Boasting great performances which aren’t too shouty and overdramatised (loved Timothée Chalamet again), Dune: Part Two is an engaging epic that will satisfy thirsts.