Home Entertainment Dune: Part Two review – The new gold standard for sci-fi cinema

Dune: Part Two review – The new gold standard for sci-fi cinema

Dune: Part Two has remained one of my most anticipated films of the past few years.

Dune: Part One completely blew me away in 2021. I loved every second of it. As a fan of the wider book series, I was left awestruck by how director Denis Villeneuve brought the hostile yet beautiful world of Arrakis to life, and how deftly he handled the complex and generation-spanning story. 

But Dune also left me with a lot of fear. Yes, I know, fear is the mind-killer–however it was justified. The second half of Frank Herbert’s original 1965 novel is where things really kick into overdrive. Paul Atreides buries himself in the sandy world of the Fremen and quickly ascends to become their messiah, well and truly kicking off the fight for Dune.

How on Earth was Villeneuve going to pull that off on the big screen?

Well, I don’t know how, but he did it. And Dune: Part Two is better than I ever imagined. 

Picking up from the instant its predecessor left off, Dune: Part Two brings viewers back into the shoes of Paul (played by Timothée Chalamet) shortly after he defeated Jamis in a fight to the death. 

Over the ensuing 2 hours 20 minutes (or thereabouts), viewers are welcomed – like Paul – into the world of the Fremen. How they live, how they survive, and what living on Arrakis really means to them.

Along this journey, Paul’s position as the Kwisatz Haderach, the Lisan al Gaib (a messianic figure with the gift of foresight and limited prescience) becomes better known in the wider community. Religious fanatics fight for him, while non-believers shun his existence.

Throughout this plot thread, Chalamet delivers a perfect rendition of a boy with – quite literally – the fate of the entire galaxy on his shoulders. he is constantly tortured by the acts of hatred and prejudice being carried out on his people, the Fremen, while also being overcome with the terror of the impending holy crusade those same people will carry out in his name.

Chalamet was glorious in Dune: Part One – but he left the movie and carried out the work all franchise actors ought to. He thought about his character’s arc and changed his performance in Part Two as a result. Everything he does has more weight, more angst, more dedication; watching him is a joy. Chalamet is magnetic as Paul, and I cannot wait to see his story continue to unfold in Dune: Messiah.

Beside Paul along this excruciating journey is Chani, his lover and confidant, played by Zendaya. The Spider-Man star was marketed as a major part of Dune: Part One, but ultimately ended up as the focus of various flashbacks, flashforwards, and a lot of tension-building.

In Dune: Part Two, she is a major part of the story – and the film is all the better for it. During the picture, Chani witnesses the rise of this new messiah firsthand, and as it snowballs out of control, her fear is palpable. She stoically, heavily, and with visible pain tells Paul how dangerous his path is, and how he ought to stray from it – but it seems his fate has already been set in stone. Zendaya does a beautiful job of demonstrating Chani’s battle between her head and heart across the picture. 

As a result, Zendaya delivers a powerful performance; a bout of simmering anger, desperation, and forlorn hope as the man she loves struggles with things she can’t fully comprehend. This is easily Zendaya’s best on-screen performance to date, and her future in the series will no doubt expand into further joy.

There are several new characters introduced into the politics of Dune: Part Two, as well. Florence Pugh plays the universe’s politically-charged Princess Irulan; Léa Seydoux is the scheming Lady Margot Fenring; but none make quite the impact that Austin Butler does.

A lot of hype – on and offscreen – surrounded the new antagonist, Feyd-Rautha, played by the Elvis Presley doppelgänger. Before the villain is even seen on screen, other characters describe him as a madman, vicious, more. When he finally enters stage right, he lives up to these rumours – but not much else. Butler is legitimately scary as Feyd-Rautha; a monstrous evildoer with nothing but hatred on his to-do list. So then, perhaps his performance is ultimately successful, but there isn’t much else to latch on to with Butler. Feyd-Rautha carries out heinous and awful actions for the sake of it, struggling to create a well-rounded and compelling villain. Perhaps I need another watch (or four), but Butler was the only part of Dune: Part Two I doubted as the credits rolled.

With that said, it isn’t enough to sour the experience of this masterpiece. 

Director Denis Villeneuve has, once again, built a world that not only feels viscerally realistic, but also looks beautiful, stark, and begs to be explored further.

When the Canadian maestro finally brings the series’ third movie (Dune: Messiah) to the big screen, Dune: Part Two will no doubt be considered one of the best films of the trilogy, and indeed one of the most incredible pieces of cinema in recent memory. It is this generation’s rival for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It trumps Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as the king of modern science-fiction.

Dune: Part Two is not only one of the greatest science-fiction pictures of all time, it is one of the best films ever made. Dune: Part Two is the new gold standard for sci-fi movies, and an exciting new direction for Villeneuve, Chalamet, Zendaya, and everyone involved.

Dune: Part Two hits cinemas on March 1.


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