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Dune: Part Two Review

by Daniel Reynolds
3.5 out of 5.0 stars

It was once possible to believe that Denis Villeneuve would not get to direct his sequel to 2021’s Dune. Back then, the “Part One” subtitle was kept under wraps, but anyone familiar with Frank Herbert’s book (or David Lynch’s 1984 film) knows: there’s a planet-sized story within, and time is needed to tell it. Thankfully, Villeneuve’s faith has been rewarded, and now we’re here with the grand promise of a conclusion. Could Dune: Part Two really be that simple?

The answer is both yes—and no. Co-written with Jon Spaihts, Villeneuve’s return to Arrakis takes off where his previous film ended: with Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) still on a quest to avenge his father, free the desert people known as the Fremen, and claim his rightful place in the universe (via holy war if need be). As before, Paul struggles with and against what this all means, even as new characters—including rival Feyd-Rautha (a deliciously evil Austin Butler), semi-love interest Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), and the Emperor himself (Christopher Walken)—attend to their intrigues. Suffice it to say, there’s even more plot to get through, and setpieces both big and small that Villeneuve handles with technical adroitness—if not all out verve. While Dune: Part Two does excel when visualizing its strange galaxy, the novelty of seeing its worms, ships, and costumes on-screen again is somewhat muted this time around. What lingers are the more complex questions at the heart of Herbert’s original work, which Villeneuve answers here with obvious force.

On that note, now that Dune‘s cinematic story is complete, it’s possible to feel somewhat disappointed. Villeneuve’s film is a grand achievement in the very literal sense, yet it is also both drawn out and somehow abrupt; its ending is definitive yet leads only to another beginning. Sure, maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be for any tale involving zealotry, “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end,” and all that. The only thing to add then is: amen.

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