Director Denis Villeneuve brings the second half of his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s cult 1965 sci-fi novel to the big screen in truly spectacular fashion. Epic in scope and astonishing in its world-building, Dune: Part Two combines jaw-dropping visuals with imaginative action and morally complex plotting to thrilling effect.

The story picks up after the events of 2021’s Dune, following a handy recap from Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), the daughter of the Emperor (Christopher Walken), neither of whom were seen in the first film. After the near wipe-out of House Atreides (orchestrated by the Emperor), temporarily in charge of mining the resource-rich planet of Arrakis, surviving scion Paul (Timothee Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) are hiding out with native desert warriors the Fremen, some of whom – notably Javier Bardem’s leader Stilgar – believe Paul to be the prophesied messiah, who will lead them all to freedom.

As Paul gains the trust of the Fremen, he grows closer to Chani (Zendaya), the woman he foresaw in his dreams, but their relationship becomes complicated as she starts to doubt the prophecy, not least when it emerges that the entire thing may have been cooked up by supernatural space witches the Bene Gesserit (including Lady Jessica). Meanwhile, after learning that Paul is still alive, corpulent space bastard Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard) tasks his psychotic nephew Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) with wiping the Fremen from the face of Arrakis.

Zendaya plays Fremen warrior Chani. CREDIT: Warner Bros.

As with the first movie, Part Two proves a pulse-poundingly immersive experience, courtesy of cinematographer Greig Fraser’s stunning visuals, production designer Patrice Vermette’s wildly imaginative sets and some inspired sound design work. This is particularly evident during the film’s exciting central set piece, when Paul has to prove himself by riding a giant sandworm, a punch-the-air moment that was teased in the first part and pays off wonderfully here.

Despite the film’s potentially punishing 166 minute running time, Villeneuve ensures that it never drags, striking a note-perfect balance between compelling character interaction and blisteringly inventive fight scenes. Additional highlights include a troupe of Harkonnen warriors gliding up a cliff-face and Paul and Chani mounting an explosive attack on the enemy’s insect-like helicopters.

The cast are exceptional. Chalamet is compelling in his transition from naïve innocent to confident, assertive leader, playing it with just enough ambiguity to leave the audience uncomfortable with his ascension. To that end, Zendaya’s character is effectively the moral centre of the movie, and she plays it beautifully, albeit with slightly more scowling than is strictly necessary.

Elsewhere, Butler delivers a deliciously nasty turn as Feyd-Rautha (signature move: gleefully licking knife blades), while fellow new additions Pugh (resplendent in chain mail), Walken and Léa Seydoux (as slinky, seductive Bene Gesserit Lady Margot Fenring) also make strong impressions, despite having relatively little screen time.

If there’s an issue with Dune: Part Two, it’s only that the ending feels a little rushed, considering the near six-hour build-up over the past two movies. At any rate, the door is left wide open for a third instalment, and Villneuve has already indicated his willingness to continue with an adaptation of Herbert’s sequel: Dune Messiah, should Part Two rake in enough spicy space cash, so there may well be more to come. In the meantime, make sure you see this on the biggest, loudest screen you can find.


  • Director: Denis Villeneuve
  • Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Austin Butler
  • Release date: March 1 (in cinemas)

The post ‘Dune: Part Two’ review: sandworm-sized sequel should blow a hole in the box office appeared first on NME.


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