"Dune: Part Two" Film Review

Dune: Part Two | Rotten Tomatoes

"Dune: Part Two" Film Review

Rating: 5/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    It is no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of Sci-Fi films. I simply don't find the appeal to them that many others do, but I can appreciate them for what they are. For example, I'm not the biggest fan of the "Alien" franchise, but that doesn't mean it's not a great movie. The same can be said for the first "Dune" film Denis Villeneuve released back during the Pandemic in 2021. I wasn't a big fan of it at all, but gave it a good review because it deserved it. Therefore, when its sequel was getting ready to come out, I was seeing tons of hype around the entire film, with many people citing it as one of the best science-fiction films ever made. I was skeptical of the praise, and was genuinely thinking I was going to go into this movie with the preconception that this film won't even scrape the surface of the praise it was getting. But, this movie instantly changed my mind, and I walked out of the theater knowing, without a doubt, I had just seen one of the best sci-fi movies in the past thirty years. 

    This sequel picks up right where the first film leaves off, with the Fremen transporting the body of Jamis after he was defeated in battle by Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) to allow him and his mother, Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), to travel with the group. He is head-over-heels for Zendaya's Chani, even though she doubts he is this huge messiah that their group leader, Stilgar (Javier Bardem), believes him to be. While they are traveling the desert, they are being hunted by the house Harkonnen, who are hoping to destroy the Fremen and rule Arrakis without disruption. 

    From the beginning segment of this film, where Paul and his group of Fremen attacked a horde of Harkonnen soldiers and there are shots of their bodies falling all around them, I knew we were in for a special treat. Villeneuve took this novel by Frank Herbert that people deemed was impossible to adapt onto the screen (let's look at David Lynch's 1984 adaptation) and set the bar incredibly high for those who want to break into the sci-fi theme. From beginning to end, this movie is tight, in terms of story and the action sequences. Villeneuve really presents this story in such a beautiful way, with it not moving too fast or too slow. It's somehow in that perfect middle ground in which the way every story should be told. 

    I also love the religious themes that are present throughout here. Paul is destined to be the Fremen's Mahdi, which is their savior of sorts, similar to how Jesus is the Messiah to the Christian religion. Yet, Paul doesn't feel like he is this destined Messiah for these people, despite Stilgar's adamant beliefs. But, when the movie moves into the last half and the more religious aspects come to light, Villeneuve does a great job of presenting Paul as this figurehead and the imagery/commentary here is perfectly on point. 

    In terms of the characters, they all are written to perfection and have great interactions with one another. Of course, Paul is the hero here, and he is presented as such. It is very easy to fall in love with the romantic love story between Paul and Chani, as well as his sort-of father-like figure relationship with Stilgar after the death of Paul's father in the first film. These relationships don't feel forced at all or fake, but they seem so real and so lifelike. You can believe that these characters exist, and that they truly have these bonds in this real world. 

    The action sequences are so beautifully on display here. The choreography and how Villeneuve set up these scenes are beautiful and glorious, and really immerse the viewer into the film. From the way that Chani and Paul blow up an enemy aircraft (when Chani runs across to Paul while the plane falls and crashes in the background is easily one of the best shots in sci-fi films in the past 30 years in my opinion) to the way the Fremen raided the capital, it's all so amazing. What elevates it beyond what it could have been though is Greig Fraser's amazing cinematography. I'm calling it now that he will win the Academy Award next year for this movie, and if he doesn't, he has simply been robbed. 

    Even outside of the action segments, Fraser is just a genius at making this film feel so real and so immersive. He captures this sand planet of Arrakis beautifully, and shows its beauty alongside its horror. At the same time, he captures the beautiful chemistry between all of the characters and is able to let us linger there during intimate moments. He really grabs the viewer and brings them into this movie and it keeps them there until the very end of the film. 

    However, this movie simply wouldn't have worked without the incredible performances from the entire cast. Everyone here gives their roles their all and do not hold back whatsoever. Chalamet is fantastic as the lead, and really shows how great of a leading man he is. Chalamet is just so damn good at being versatile (consider how he went from Willy Wonka to this), and he just commands the attention of those who watch. At the same time, Zendaya gives a very confident and badass performance as Chani. She really does rival Chalamet's character throughout the movie, and they have wonderful chemistry together from beginning to end. 

    Another standout performance I want to mention here is Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha, one of the main antagonists here. Sure, over the past couple years, Butler has been synonymous with Elvis Presley after starring in Baz Luhrmann's film. But, in this movie, he shows that he is a serious actor that can literally do fantastic in every role he is given. He is terrifyingly perfect here, and is just amazing at playing a psychopath. This is the role where you don't see the actor, but rather the character shining on the screen. If you didn't even know Butler played this character beforehand, you would honestly have no clue that's who it is on the screen. This may honestly be one of his best performances here. 

    The rest of the cast are so good and easily compliment the leads or the other cast members they are on the screen with. This entire cast is so expansive and jam-packed with so many fantastic actors, and they are all on their A-game here. It's so beautiful and impressive to watch, and really makes the film what it is. This movie wouldn't have worked without any of these fantastic performers, like I said prior. 

    This movie just flawlessly works on every level. On a story level, this movie contains top-tier storytelling and directing from Villeneuve, and he really shows how he is one of the best directors working today. Then, on an entertainment level, you have such a great time with this from beginning to end, and you will find yourself on the edge of your seat multiple times. This is an incredibly impressive and beautiful sci-fi masterpiece, and a blockbuster you need to see on the biggest screen possible with the biggest crowd you can find. They have won me over.