Dune: Part Two Movie Review — Epic sci-fi at its grandest scale yet

Dune: Part Two is a monumental achievement, an awe-inspiring and visually stunning sci-fi epic in every sense of the word.

2021's Dune was a bit of a slog, burdened by the thankless job of laying the foundation of Frank Herbert's jargon-filled universe for the laymen to understand. Dune: Part Two has no such burdens — it hits the ground running and doesn't stop until the fervor of its characters rises to fever pitch. Even the almost three-hour runtime doesn't feel like it thanks to Denis Villeneuve's engrossing direction and Greig Fraser's indulgent shots of Arrakis' sweeping desert vistas.

After the events of Dune, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) has been living with the Fremen, the mysterious and secretive natives of the planet Arrakis. He has embraced their ways and earned their respect, to the point that he now answers to the Fremen name "Muad'Dib". Much to his chagrin and the chagrin of his partner Chani (Zendaya), he has also earned the mantle of "savior," as the Fremen believe Paul to be the "Lisan al Gaib" -- the messiah sent to bring them paradise.

This brings him into conflict with a restless Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken, barely sidestepping his memetic connection to Dune), concerned that the meteoric rise of Muad'Dib threatens his own grip on power. Besieged by a desperate Empire, an even more desperate House Harkonnen, as well as the machinations of his own mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Paul grows weary knowing it's only a matter of time before Arrakis becomes ground zero to a devastating war that could threaten the known universe!

Dune: Part Two is gorgeous. Every frame is a piece of art, packed with design choices that give the film a satisfyingly lived-in feel. Nothing here feels sterile or designed by committee. From House Harkonnen's Giger-esque brutalist architecture and motifs (color literally drains out of anything Harkonnen branded) to the solemn Fremen temples carved out of mountainsides, Villeneuve uses the visual medium to incredible effect.

The soundtrack elevates this already thrilling movie to another level. Hans Zimmer's score is soaring and inspiring one moment, visceral and unsettling the next, adding a striking exclamation point to every scene. The IMAX system magnifies this to a truly immersive degree, as the whole theater shivers and shakes with every bass drop and synth whine. I have a feeling I would feel differently if I watched this on a regular theater, but at this point I'll make any excuse to watch it again.

A movie this pretty is nothing without its cast, and Dune: Part Two contains a phenomenal assemblage. Austin Butler disappears into his role as the unhinged Feyd-Ratha Harkonnen even with little to do. Rebecca Ferguson's Lady Jessica spends most of the movie hidden behind a veil but strikes a venomous figure regardless. Javier Bardem is both hilarious and affecting as the zealous Stilgar. Zendaya tries her best, but there's very little chemistry between her and Chalamet. Thankfully she brings it in jaw-dropping action sequences.

A far cry from his sleepy portrayal of Paul Atreides in the first DuneTimothée Chalamet brings more to the table this time around. Despite his pretty boy looks and slight frame, Chalamet is a commanding presence in every scene. He is edgier, funnier, more allowed to bring to bear the stresses of being at the center of a political and religious maelstrom. As the film comes to its shocking climax, you can't help but be fully behind Chalamet as he ascends to Paul Atreides' birthright. With more Dune novels to adapt, I'd follow this dude to more movies like this.

It's been a while since we've had an event movie of this scale that isn't named "Star Wars." I don't need to gussy it up: don't wait for streaming, watch Dune: Part Two as soon as you can at your nearest movie theater. We may not get a big screen experience like this again.

At least, until there's a Part Three.

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