Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two (dir. Denis Villeneuve)

By: Adam Freed

The experience of witnessing Dune: Part Two must be similar to the feeling of being carried amongst the clouds in the palm of a giant.  The invincible notion that a superior being has total control,  powerless to do anything but enjoy the ride, is one of pure exhilaration.  Denis Villeneuve, a colossus of cinema, bestows audiences with this euphoric powerlessness in his epic sequel to his 2021 sci-fi epic Dune. The only thing middling about the second of Villeneuve’s three part adaptation to Frank Herbert’s 1965 groundbreaking novel, is that much like some of the greatest sequels in film history, audiences are left believing that despite the greatness they have just encountered, the best is yet to come.

In Villeneuve’s corner is an astonishing assortment of marquee names representing apex talents across four generations of Hollywood’s A-list.  Indelible icons Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Walken and Charlotte Rampling provide an air of nobility to their morally diverse roles.  In the prime of their careers Villeneuve is blessed by the talents of the divine Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Fallout) and Academy Award winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) .  Where Dune: Part Two separates itself from prior impressive ensembles is its undeniable core of youthful excellence, weaponized to perfection.  An unexperienced production always makes for a somewhat precarious adventure, but not when that cast is composed of such undeniably gifted individuals.   Timothée  Chalamet (Little Women, Wonka), Zendaya (Spider Man: No Way Home), Austin Butler (Elvis) and Florence Pugh (Oppenheimer) read like a Gen Z yearbook under the superlative “Most likely to carry Hollywood for the next half century.”  Many productions are fortunate to boast one or two gifted actors, sci-fi impresario Denis Villeneuve has become an epic Pied Piper leading a horde of screen prodigies into movie immortality.

Picking up where its predecessor leaves off, Dune: Part Two drops loyal fans back into the savage and breathtaking land of Arrakis.  The monochromatic land of endless sand plays host to Paul Atreides (Chalamet) and his mother Jessica (Ferguson), both survivors of familial genocide that follow their survival instincts into joining the indigenous nomadic Fremen.  The relationship between Paul and Chandi (Zendaya) alluded to in Dune (2021), is given room to grow amidst the arid landscape.  Steadfast in his belief that his destiny lies in the desert, Atreides pursues both assimilation and leadership of his new family with equal fervor.   

Many worlds have been built within the realm of science fiction, but never to this level of meticulous depth and detail. What Denis Villeneuve accomplishes is a maximization of the visual concept he initially presented three years ago.  Not only does the French Canadian director broaden the scope on what is known of Arrakis, but also presents a new and more expansive universe, featuring visually distinct and breathtaking works of sci-fi art that illuminate the home planets of some of Arrakis' would-be conquerors.  Villeneuve presents a story of such breadth, that a single viewing cannot do justice to the grandeur of the master filmmaker's masterwork.  Supporting the mind altering realities of his various worlds is the transcendent score of composer Hans Zimmer, a man who has become synonymous with world building of a sonic nature.  Zimmer’s second Dune score is far more aggressive and versatile than his first,  as it capitalizes upon the width of the worlds of Villeneuve’s creation.

If it is escapism that an audience seeks, there is no better vehicle in which to do so than Dune: Part Two.  Rivaled only by The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980) as sequels that expand upon the already historic lineage of their fantastical predecessors, Denis Villeneuve has without question created an epic for the ages.  Be warned, while standing amongst the clouds upon the shoulder of a giant, it is unwise to question the destination, only to enjoy the journey.

Target Score 9/10: Denis Villeneuve makes good on every promise he offers in the promotion of his science fiction epic.  Every aspect of his original adaptation has grown far more dynamic in scope.  Dune: Part Two is a film that simply cannot be appreciated from home, it must be seen large and loud as its creator has intended.