Dune: Part Two (2024) | Review

Denis Villeneuve delivers another lucious instalment of his space saga adaptation, hopefully springboarding it towards an exciting conclusion.

dune part two movie poster
Source: The Movie Database

Synopsis: Paul Atreides seeks revenge on those who destroyed his family, joining the Fremen people of Arakis and mobilising them into a revolution.

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Austin Butler, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken

Dune Part Two is an exciting instalment of what has the potential to become the finest-made science fiction saga of modern cinema – if we get there. If we don't, the Dune story ends with a visually stellar but emotionally hollow picture.

Much of the world is once again stellar, particularly the fluttering wings of the ornithopters and gargantuan spice-harvesting machines that trawl over sections of the planet. A gaggle of stars return, most welcome being Javier Bardem's Stilgar (a Fremen tribe leader) and Rebecca Ferguson's Lady Jessica (mother to Timothée Chalamet's Paul Atreides). Bardem is warm and touching in small moments while acting as Paul's emotional guide (and biggest religious fan). Ferguson, on the other hand, mixes in a fun dollop of psychotic as her mind opens and the wave of Paul's prophecy to lead the Fremen to freedom washes into her.

Chalamet and Zendaya (who plays Fremen friend-come-lover Chani) have moments of chemistry but unfortunately not enough to be called stirring. They're effective as unbalanced friends – Paul the future leader of the Fremen and Chani the one who actually knows how to survive on Arrakis longer than a day without help. This friendship grows naturally and is bolstered by Paul's rise in the military estimations of other Fremen, but still no sparks fly by the film's conclusion. Chalamet's best work arrives towards the film's end, as Paul grabs his destiny with both hands in and an ugly, almost braggadocious streak emerges from him.

So, what's new on the menu?

Giedi Prime, the homeworld of the hideous Harkonnens, is a world drenched in black and white (including, creatively, its fireworks). It's also a welcome break from the bombardment of orange that Arrakis will inflict on you, but also brings back memories of circular ink-blot aliens from Villeneuve's Arrival. Austin Butler is also a fine addition to the ensemble cast as a deranged and bloodthirsty offspring of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen – a solid black knife cutting through the intergalactic politics and giving us someone to root against. While Stellan Skarsgård has a little less to do than his previous time as the Baron, he is still a monstrous presence that punctuates nearly every one of his scenes with menace.

screencap from dune part two
Source: The Movie Database

Elsewhere, Florence Pugh and Christopher Walken join as Princess Irulan Corrino and Emperor of the Known Universe, Shaddam IV, respectively. Walken gives a tired performance that lacks menace or intrigue, while Pugh is serviceable but devoid of opportunity. The Princess' diary entries and discussions with her family functionally move the story along but there's an unfortunate evitability to the political uprising led by outcast messiah figure Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet).

This puts one terribly effective aspect of the film into the spotlight: the mind-controlling Bene Gesserit technique of 'The Voice'. The further through Paul's messiah transformation you go, the more you'll despair as people are shouted into their correct positions and prophecy-fulfilling actions. This gives the film an uneasy inevitability which I'm desperate for a third film to shake and can only be explained by the military stakes of the film's close.


Including the first film, we're treated to perhaps four hours of Paul learning the ways of the Fremen, from their culture and traditions to how they survive on the desert planet Arrakis – which usually involved utilising the terrain and tremendous, roaming sandworms to their military advantage. Dune: Part Two does an excellent job of placing you in the heart of Fremen culture as Paul draws followers and detractors but you become so on-side with the Fremen and the military tricks they can pull (labelled 'desert power' by Paul) that it seems nothing will stand in there way. Unfortunately for the emotional stakes of the film, this is largely true.

When Shaddam IV lands his army on Arrakis, what possible chance does he have? He brings no unique threat, resource, or tactics into the fray, so what can another mass of soldiers do against the well-oiled Fremen machine with a youthful cosmopolitan leader at the head of it? The answer: get mowed down by sandworms, which is a visual treat but didn't stir me one bit.


The exquisite work of the visual effects artists, costume designers, and stunt performers who worked with Villeneuve has truly brought Frank Herbet's novel to life. For some people, this will be enough to carry them through multiple viewings. As spectacle, Dune: Part Two certainly delivers more, but is it bigger? No. Is it better than its predecessor? No. It fits right in as the connective tissue between the first film's fall of House Atreides and whatever comes next. I just hope a closing chapter does arrive and can bring emotional harmony to the beautifully rendered world we've enjoyed thus far.

Source: YouTube