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“Dune: Part Two” Triumphs

Written by: Adam Vaughn | February 29th, 2024

Dune: Part Two (Dennis Villeneuve, 2024) 4½ out of 5 stars

Having been immensely pleased by the aesthetic, sound design, and visual wonders of Villeneuve’s Dune, I was absolutely wowed by the second installment. Villeneuve takes everything that worked from his first go-around and continues to build on his craft to make the second Dune a much more powerful, vivid, and more solidified work of art.

Villeneuve expands on the world of Arrakis and the adventure of both Paul Atriedes/Muad’Dib (Timothée Chalamet, Little Women), and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One) in ways that complement the themes and imagery found in Frank Herbert’s original masterpiece. While some slight changes in the film’s tone do not always satisfy my personal taste for such an epic sci-fi narrative, overall Dune: Part Two keeps a momentum in world-building and art design to rival such epic tales as Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones.

l-r: Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ DUNE: PART TWO, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Part Two picks up from the first film by immediately focusing on Paul’s growing relationship with the Fremen people, particularly Chani (Zendaya, Spider-Man: No Way Home) and Stilgar (Javier Bardem, The Little Mermaid). While we see Paul overcome tremendous adversity and become the prophetic savior (or “Muad’Dib”) of Arakkis, along with some exhilarating Sand Worm sequences, we also see the development of Jessica into the Reverend Mother, both of which solidify a theme of religious power, contrasted against the visual elements of flying, industrial like spaceships and the looming, Stormtrooper-esque nature of the Harkonnens.

Speaking of the Harkonnens, while Villeneuve continues to expand the identities of such adversarial characters as Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård, I’ll Find You) and Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), we are also introduced to the supreme, yet politically human, Emperor (Christopher Walken, Wild Mountain Thyme), and an utterly ruthless Austin Butler (Elvis) as Feyd-Rautha, as a much anticipated foe for Paul.

A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ DUNE: PART TWO, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Arguably, it is the healthy balance of character exploration and spectacle that make Dune: Part Two work from start to finish. While I personally did not see the need for the small tidbits of comic relief found within the first half of the film—particularly turning Bardem’s Stilgar at times into a more quippy character than was portrayed in Part One—it does tend to give a rather lengthy time with the Fremen a better pacing.

Ultimately, all the pieces come together towards the film’s spectacular finale, which brings all of the story points together, thus creating a solidified science-fiction narrative, with tremendous awe and entertainment to accompany fine storytelling and performances. It would all make Frank Herbert proud!

l-r: Timothée Chalet and Austin Butler in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ DUNE: PART TWO, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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