MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Dune: Part Two’ a sweeping science fiction epic

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The battle for Arrakis continues in the aptly titled “Dune: Part Two” – co-writer/director Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s beloved science fiction novel.

If the first film set the table, scratching the surface of this characters and world, then “Dune Part: Two” is the full course meal – a sweeping sci-fi epic with top notch storytelling and even better craftsmanship. It’s a film where Villeneuve has raised the stakes and picked up the pace, resulting in one of the best films in the genre in recent memory.

“Part Two” picks up with Paul Atriedes (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) uniting with Chani (Zendeya) and the rest of the Freman after the violent coup to overthrow his family orchestrated by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård).

Paul tries to mount a plan to seek revenge for his father while wrestling with the belief from some Freman see him as the messiah. As Paul continues his quest to confront the Baron and the Emperor (Christopher Walken), who allowed his family to be destroyed, his transition from timid young man to possible leader of a revolution takes place – putting his blossoming romance with Chani in jeopardy.

Villeneuve and co-writer Jon Spaihts do an excellent job of adapting Herbert’s complex story that features this expansive desert-like world full of rich, larger-than-life characters.

Chalamet brings Paul’s conflict to screen quite effectively, making this hero one who seems to be more in a moral gray area than clearly black or white (much like most of the characters in this film).

Javier Bardem brings some well-needed comedic moments for the audience in his role as Freman tribe leader Silgar, while Zendeya perfectly gives the film its much needed moral compass.

There are some new additions that shine as well, including Florence Pugh as the emperor’s daughter. However, it’s Austin Butler – barely recognizable as the Baron’s sadistic nephew – who really stands out in a role that deserves award consideration. His character’s entrance is perhaps one of the signature moments of a film full of epic visuals and action sequences.

Villeneuve has crafted a film that is full of those epic sequences, a truly immersive experience where the reins have been loosened and the man behind the latest “Blade Runner” and “The Arrival” has been allowed to truly put his talents on display.

This is a film that is a poster child for the theatrical experience – a world unlike anyone has ever seen that is at times simply breath taking.

Like the first film, “Part Two” does leave plenty on the table – with a third installment likely to come (although a date has yet to be announced). What really makes this film special is that it serves as both an excellent standalone and just a small piece of a greater story that still has more to tell.

Villeneuve has raised the bar with “Dune: Part Two,” which now takes its place not just as the quintessential adaptation of the beloved novel – but one of the top level series in its genre.

— Grade: A-. Reviewed by Micheal Compton, Bowling Green Daily News.