Dune: Part Two review – second half of hallucinatory sci-fi epic is staggering spectacle

Estimated read time 4 min read


The next installment of Denis Villeneuve’s expansive Dune adaptation arrives with a powerful impact, a psychedelic sci-fi experience that explores themes of dictatorship, colonization, rebellion, and love. Villeneuve, with co-writer Jon Spaihts, incorporates elements from David Lean, George Lucas, and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, particularly in the grandiose battle sequence that includes vast CGI crowds. However, the film is distinctly Villeneuve’s own, merging brutal political oppression with the resilience of Indigenous peoples in the vast and enigmatic alien landscapes. The sound design pulsates and hums throughout the film, adding a disorienting thrill to its stunning visuals and the recurring fixation on violent, fetishized fashion in the realm of intergalactic villains.

One concern I have is that the initial momentum established in the first part of the movie seems to have diminished since it was released over two years ago. Those who are not already fans of Dune may feel that the ending is unsatisfying and does not provide the definitive closure that we may have expected after investing 330 minutes into watching it. Additionally, the last significant scenes of the film feel rushed, comparable to shrinking Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part III into a quick conclusion tacked onto Part II.

The movie’s unique and impressive visuals are not affected by any of these details. The opening battle scene in the desert is extraordinary and surreal, with the addition of futuristic technology that is both powerful and unsettling. The design elements are boldly presented, and even though in other films the black nasal tubes might seem strange, in this one they are easily accepted – especially when the main characters have to kiss while wearing them.


We find ourselves on the planet Arrakis, home to the valuable Spice mineral, ruled by the corrupt Harkonnen family who seized control from the Atreides family through a deceitful coup. The Harkonnens include the loathsome Baron (Stellan Skarsgård) and his disturbing nephews Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista) and Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler). The charming Paul (Timothée Chalamet) continues to lead the Fremen resistance, while also falling in love with Chani (Zendaya) and being seen as a savior by warrior Stilgar (Javier Bardem). Paul’s mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), a member of the secretive Bene Gesserit order, stands by his side and holds her own power among the Fremen. A major showdown between the Fremen and Harkonnen is on the horizon, as well as conflicts between Paul and the Emperor and his daughter Princess Irulan. Notable actors Christopher Walken and Florence Pugh make brief appearances in these roles.

On classically feline and insinuating form … Léa Seydoux as Lady Margot Fenring in Dune: Part Two.View image in fullscreen

With an enhanced cast, the eccentric and captivating world of Dune is now presented in a panoramic display. Léa Seydoux masterfully portrays the cunning Lady Margot Fenring, a Bene Gesserit initiate with feline-like qualities, while Anya Taylor-Joy makes a brief, yet impactful appearance. Similar to its predecessor, this second Dune film excels in showcasing a fully realized and unique universe that will likely serve as inspiration for future works. Greig Fraser’s expert cinematography and Patrice Vermette’s impeccable production design undoubtedly contribute to this success. Hans Zimmer’s score perfectly sets the tone, striking a delicate balance between mournful and grand.

Villeneuve displays immense ambition and courage in his film, utilizing a distinct language of film-making. Despite this, as the film concludes, I can’t shake off the feeling that, while it’s difficult to envision anyone producing a better Dune adaptation, Villeneuve hasn’t fully grasped the heart of the story in one cohesive film, as he did with Blade Runner 2049. Chalamet undeniably shines as a charming action lead, despite being surrounded by a complex and large cast, resulting in his heroism and romance with Chani being overshadowed. However, it’s refreshing to see a filmmaker who thinks on such a grand scale, truly capturing the essence of an epic story.

Source: theguardian.com

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