‘Dune: Part Two’ Adds Depth to Its World

by Liam Trump ‘24

It’s been more than two years since director Denis Villeneuve introduced audiences to his vision of the world of Arrakis in his 2021 film Dune, an adaptation of the first half of Frank Herbert’s highly acclaimed science fiction novel of the same name. Critics and audiences alike took quick notice of how abruptly the film ended, leaving the story incomplete after its two and a half hours of runtime was up. As the title of Villeneuve’s latest film implies, Dune: Part Two picks up right where the previous installment left off, continuing this behemoth of a story and all the spectacle it entails.

The new installment opens right in the middle of a skirmish between the native inhabitants of Arrakis-the Fremen and the Harkonnens, an outside group trying to take control of the production of Spice, a highly sought after resource. With Paul Attredies (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) taking refuge with the Fremen after the events of the first film in which Paul’s father was killed after a Harkonnen attack on the capital of Arraken, they have to fight their way out against the forces of the Harkonnen forces to make it to southern Arrakis, where Paul can hopefully raise an army and take back the planet.

The numerous battles between getting Paul to the south are truly impressive from an audio/visual standpoint. The intense sound design and droning score help to showcase the ground level perspective we’re given as Paul and the Fremen have to contend against this seemingly overwhelming force that is the Harkonnen army. The intensity keeps going with the one-on-one fight scenes, which are expertly choreographed. In particular, the scenes with the newly introduced Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler), who is now leading the assault on Arrakis, are notable in how they put a heavy focus on his brutalist nature which contrasts well with Paul’s level-headedness, making their end dual one of the best the film has to offer.

Throughout this journey, Paul forms close bonds with Channi (Zendaya) and Stilgar (Javier Bardem), two Fremen who are on opposite sides of whether Paul really is their race’s messiah who is destined to become the savior of Arrakis. This debate on Paul’s savior status adds an extra layer that helps to actually flesh out Fremen who weren’t given any depth of characterization in the first film. While this debate does characterize both Channi and Stilgar, it can be as repetitive due to how many scenes are dedicated to proving if Paul really is their savior.

Unlike how Dune’s (2021) main purpose was to expose the vast amount of lore Herbert wrote in his original novels, Part Two puts a much greater emphasis on the action and an exploration of the culture of Arrakis. Villeneuve carries over the stunning visual effects as well as the strong performances while correcting the stilted dialogue and choppy pacing that marred the first film. Dune: Part 2 is essential viewing for those left unsatisfied by the first film while setting up what will hopefully be a strong third entry with Villeneuve’s upcoming adaptation of Dune: Messiah.

Grade: B+