Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Dune: Part Two Review: An Expansive Sci-Fi Epic

Long live the fighters. After over two years of waiting, it’s time for audiences to return to Arrakis in Dune: Part Two, the latest sci-fi epic from director Denis Villeneuve. This movie adapts the second half of Frank Herbert’s classic novel. It once again stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen, getting revenge on the people who destroyed his family. This is one of the most widely anticipated movies of 2024, and for good reason. This is a cinematic, monumental film that is sure to blow audiences away with its pure spectacle.

It’s amazing how Dune: Part Two expands the world of the original. We saw glimpses of Chani and the Fremen in the first Dune film, but that film holds off a lot for the next film. This movie gives us the story we were waiting for, developing Chani more as a character than simply a person in Paul’s dreams. Not only do Villeneuve and his production team perfectly translate the world from Herbert’s novel to the big screen, but they truly immerse you in this breathtaking landscape of Arrakis, with space worms and conflicts and all of the things fans of the book can hope to see.

Dune: Part Two expertly develops the lore and mythology that was established in the first film. It enriches the characters in ways that we had not seen before, progressing them to new places. Paul’s character has a stronger motivation, drawing him forward in this movie. He is after revenge after his father was killed in the previous movie. Although this is the goal that drives him forward, it does not always feel like the goal that drives the story forward. It can feel like an afterthought in a movie that has so many characters and story threads going on at once when that goal could have benefitted from being at the forefront.

However, this film shines during its thrilling action sequences. While the Dune movies are not your traditional action films, they feature grand, masterful stuntwork and visuals that Villeneuve handles perfectly. He does an excellent job of framing the explosions and danger in the same shot as the characters to really sell the power of these scenes. The sound design is also sublime, building tension at all the right moments and grabbing your attention. This film features the most incredible spectacle of the year.

The performances Villeneuve pulls from his actors are also quite impressive. Dune: Part Two features a career-best performance from Chalamet, who manages to be a morally ambiguous character that gets you on his side while also performing acts that are not traditional for a typical hero. Zendaya gets much more screen time in this movie, and she is as spectacular as always in this role. Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgård reprise their roles from the first film, and they are all magnetic. This is one of the strongest ensemble casts we’ve seen in a movie in a long time.

However, Dune: Part Two also features a few newcomers. The most notable is Austin Butler. When the first Dune came out, Butler had not yet made his Oscar-nominated turn in Elvis. However, now that he has reached superstardom, he’s the perfect choice for a role in this film. He plays Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, and he is nothing short of magnificent. Those complaining that he has stuck too closely with the Elvis voice have nothing to worry about with this role. He transforms once again. Not only does the makeup make him unrecognizable, but his villainous performance is also creepy and unsettling. It’s amazing to see a handsome star shake it all off and allow his pure talent to speak for itself. He’s marvelous in this movie.

We also have Florence Pugh and Christopher Walken joining the cast this time. They are two excellent actors who give superb performances here. Walken gives the best performance he’s given in years, and Pugh’s accent work is fantastic as usual. Although the performances are great across the board, one of the weaker elements is the romance between Paul and Chani. It’s in the marketing, and it’s what we expect from the two leads of the film, but there isn’t enough chemistry for the romance to feel organic. It happens, and we just accept it, but I can’t help but feel like if we weren’t watching two incredibly popular young stars like Chalamet and Zendaya perform this romance, it would not be very compelling.

Dune: Part Two features some incredible shot choices, and you can see Villeneuve’s passion for the source material in every frame. He wanted to make an adaptation worthy of that novel, and he succeeded. It pays off everything the first movie sets up, throwing the characters into action and pushing Paul to more interesting, darker places. The story runs out of steam during the second act, but the final act is so mesmerizing that it makes up for it. It features a finale for the ages while being a feast for the eyes. Greig Fraser’s breathtaking cinematography and Hans Zimmer’s powerful musical score complement an unforgettable sci-fi experience worthy of the big screen.

SCORE: 7/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.

Disclosure: ComingSoon attended a press screening for our Dune: Part Two review.

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