Home Movie Reviews ‘Dune: Part Two’ – Review
‘Dune: Part Two’ – Review

‘Dune: Part Two’ – Review


The spice must flow, and visionary filmmaker Denis Villeneuve brings an unprecedented vision of science fiction excellence to the big screen as he continues in his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, and its second chapter, Dune: Part Two, is an utterly awe-inspiring cinematic masterpiece.

Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) continues his journey, united with Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen, as he seeks revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family and endeavours to prevent a terrible future that only he can predict.

Denis Villeneuve is a visionary filmmaker who has spent the last twenty-six years perfecting his craft of storytelling. He has explored different genres and redefined their construction, mastering the art of cinematic expression. In 2021, he fulfilled a childhood dream of bringing Dune, Frank Herbert’s influential work of science fiction, to the big screen, resulting in a cinematic masterpiece of immense scope and power. Villeneuve now returns with Dune: Part Two, continuing the epic narrative of a planetary messiah resulting in a pure expression of cinematic art that showcases his unmatched skill as a filmmaker.

In witnessing Dune: Part Two, you are experiencing Villeneuve’s total control over this picture, and he understands its narrative so intimately that nothing is left out of place. Villeneuve has admitted to his long-held passion for the story, and it is as if the images and sounds of this picture have been streamed from his own consciousness up onto the cinema screen. In his articulation of Dune’s story in this second part, the director crafts a film that is much more aggressive in its action and which is tinged with ideas of religious fervour and the acceptance of one’s own destiny. Where the foundation for Dune’s fantastic universe was built in the first picture, the narrative’s story, characters, and consequences are built out to a much greater degree in this second chapter. Every moment invites you further into the sheer beauty of this magnificent story.

Two important contributors to the success of bringing Dune to the big screen are cinematographer Greig Fraser and composer Hans Zimmer, who are both returning for the second chapter. Their contributions to the film’s production broaden its scope and beauty in a whole new direction. Greig Fraser takes his handling of cinematography to a bold new level, resulting in a stunning combination of art and technology. His use of lens, light, colour, and texture is beautiful and crisp, painting with light and shadow. The images are flawless in their composition, and through his eye, you feel as if you could step out onto the sands of Arrakis and literally feel the spice run across your face. Both the haunting desolate landscape of Arrakis and the brutally gothic and repulsive world of Giedi Prime are striking visual images that stand out and demand your attention, and Fraser’s work is masterful. Zimmer’s score elevates the entire experience, extending his work on the first feature to express more emotion and action in the narrative.

A key theme placed in Dune: Part Two is growth, and this word and its feeling are expressed through the film’s central character, Paul Atreides, as he finally enters manhood and accepts his destiny and the consequences that follow it. Timothée Chalamet again returns as Paul, and his performance is far more muscular and purposeful as he has moved beyond boyhood and now stands as a man, the last of his bloodline, ready to reclaim what is his. Now accepted as a revolutionary warlord in the Fremen culture, he becomes known as the mythical Muad’Dib and begins reclaiming Arrakis from the clutches of the Harkkonenn. While action and confrontation are key parts of his performance, Chalamet also allows audiences further into Paul’s complicated mind and the forces that pull him back and forth as he must accept what destiny has bestowed upon him, no matter the cost. Chalamet conveys immense presence within the picture, and he truly holds the audience’s attention as Muad’Dib, an awe-inspiring sight.

Standing as Paul’s conscience in Dune: Part Two is Chani, a native Fremen woman who seeks to liberate her people from the Harkonnen’s oppression and, in the process, becomes Paul’s soulmate. Zendaya portrays Chani to perfection, showcasing her spirited and resourceful character. As Chalamet’s Paul grows and learns the ways of the desert, a natural bond develops between them, deepening as the story unfolds. Their playful chemistry creates some very special moments. Through Chani’s perspective, the audience gains valuable insight into the story’s themes and different shades of Paul. Denis Villeneuve expertly highlights the dangers of religious extremism through Chani’s reactions, making her an essential character in the narrative.

Another key figure cast in Dune: Part Two is the imposing, cunning and dangerous Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, the younger nephew of the brutish Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), played in a freakish performance by Austin Butler. Butler is a rising force in Hollywood, and he transforms for the role. A hulking psycho who takes pleasure in his sadistic torment of others, Feyd understands the power that is within his grasp, and he’ll do anything to grab it. Butler’s physical and vocal performance leaves him unrecognisable, and he stands as Paul Atreides’s dark shadow in the picture. His swagger and dark charm only add to the danger of his character, and he’s a formidable opponent that Muad’Dib must contend with, and make no mistake, blood will be spilt.

Wrapping everything together is Rebecca Fergusson as Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica, the concubine and widow to Duke Leto Atreides, who undertakes her own journey that fundamentally changes her character and leaves her as a dark and malicious spirit. As a Reverend Mother to the Fremen of Arrakis, Lady Jessica becomes a figure of immense suspicion and fear. She’ll use whatever force of prophecy or religion to secure her son’s position as a messiah and to seek revenge upon the killers of her family. Whenever Fergusson is on screen, you cannot look away, and she completely holds your attention as this sinister, baying presence. Fergusson articulates menace in Jessica’s actions as the Reverend Mother, and her actions guide the consequences of the picture.

From its narrative and character to cinematography and production design, costuming and action set pieces and thumping musical score, Dune: Part Two is utterly mesmerising in its total presentation. It is the result of a whole cast and crew working under Denis Villeneuve’s leadership and participating in complete creative expression. To witness this film is to fully let the power of the cinematic medium rush over you, and in IMAX, it is all-consuming. Villeneuve’s deliberate action to capture Dune: Part Two in the IMAX format elevates the feeling and emotion that audiences will feel with this picture, and as I stated, it feels as if you are stepping into his mind and feeling the very dream of Dune come to life.

Dune: Part Two is a stunning display of cinematic science fiction hallucinogenic brilliance brought to life. It is the product of true passion, and director Denis Villeneuve has pushed the boundaries of how the cinematic arts can express the concepts of pure science fiction. It is a bold, courageous, and beautiful film, and it delivers the answer to the question of why the spice must flow.

Image: Warner Brothers Pictures