Review of 'Dune: Part Two'

Picking up where the first film (Dune: Part One) left off, young Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, father Duke Leto Atreide's beloved concubine, Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) travel with the Fremen, the native people of the dessert planet Arrakis (“Dune”), led by tribal leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem) to Sietch Tabr where the two quickly adapt to the ways of the people. Jessica takes the “water of life” - a poisonous liquid from the worms of the planet - that she transforms with her powers as a Bene Gesserit to become the Sietch's Reverend Mothers. The waters also transforms her unborn female child (Alia) with whom she is now able to communicate. The Fremen begin to see Paul as the “promised one” as he quickly adapts to their ways, becoming an accomplished fighter. The Freman Chani (Zendaya) falls in love with Paul but is sceptical of the prophesy and concerned as she sees more and more of her people worshipping Paul while he only slightly reluctantly seems to encourage as a way to seek his revenge against the Harkonnens, led by Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) though secretly aided by Emperor Shadam IV (Christopher Walken) for killing his father and invading Arrakis. Paul's influence only increases as Jessica heads into the uncharted tribes of the south to seek out more followers.

The second epic chapter in Dune sees the action step up quite a notch as the focus shifts to the sands of Dune as Paul searches for his destiny while learning of the people he has come to find himself with. The scale is incredible with amazing vistas and elaborate storytelling that, it has to be said, differs in many striking ways from the source material by Frank Herbert (particularly the ending which will be sure to irritate Dune purists). There is a lot going on here in this not-quite 3 hour film which may confuse many viewers but as one familiar with the book, films and mini series it was not too difficult to keep up (though noting the differences).

Villeneuve has a knack for capturing the essence of the story and a feeling for the epic with incredible sand worm sequences, dessert battles and deep, emotional, characterization. Never one to shy away from the dramatic every conversation is IMPORTANT (capital letters intentional) and tends to take place in front of some amazing looking scenery or background action. If the conversation is boring you can entertain yourself with watching what is going on behind them. I am being disingenuous, the acting here is very much up to the task though I have to say that I don't find Timothée Chalamet's Paul suitably serious and not appearing to show too much passion in regards to anything…fighting or love. He says the words but does not seem to feel them. Similarly, Zendaya as Chani seems to think of this as a normal sort of way of life, interested more in her friends as they chuckle to themselves on the sidelines than in the fate of the world. This is a character that is much diminished from Herbert's version. On the other hand, Rebecca Ferguson is stellar as Jessica convincing the Fremen that her son really is the promised one, the “Kwisatz Haderach”, that they have been seeking. She brings much more of a seriousness to the film than the others. For the rest of the cast, Stellan Skarsgård as the Baron Harkonnen is still having his oil baths and ends up a bit (pun intended) as damn squid while Dave Bautista, returning as the Beast Rabban is not terribly “Beastly”, more inept as his flails in his attempts to stop the Fremen. He is soon replaced by a slightly more beastly, but still inept, Austin Butler as Raban's brother Feyd-Rautha but we barely get to know him, only that he poses somewhat sexily a lot for his (creepy) father.

The film does tend to drag on quite a lot with what feels like a lot of the same types of things happening over and over again while the story ponderously proceeds. There seem to be a lot of elements that feel like more of an amazing looking distraction rather than actually serving any useful purpose but I suppose this can be forgiven from some an amazing director with an obviously large budget - It is all there on the screen to see and glorious it is too. To fully appreciate I would have to suggest it is seen on the biggest screen you can find with the best sound system (though the soundtrack, it has to be said, is largely forgettable).

The second (and likely not last) chapter of Dune sees the action stepped up quite a bit as Paul comes to terms with his fate and destiny as he plots his revenge on House Harkonnen and the Emperor. Pay attention as there is a lot going on here…

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2024-04-28

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2024

Length: 166 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Denis Villeneuve: