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Review: ‘Dune: Part Two’ is a Sprawling Sci-Fi Sequel that Lives Up to the Promise of Its Predecessor

February 21, 2024Ben MK

Whether it's The Empire Strikes Back, Spider-Man 2 or The Dark Knight, movie trilogies whose highly anticipated second chapters far surpassed the box office success and critical acclaim of the first are few and far between. Still, when the stars align, the result can be the stuff of filmmaking legend. It doesn't matter if you're a hardcore fan of these series or a casual moviegoer, these are the films that have helped shape the course of cinema history. And with Dune: Part Two, director Denis Villeneuve is determined to cement the Dune franchise as one of those series, in this sprawling sci-fi spectacle that proves the return to Arrakis was well worth the nearly-three-year wait.

The year, once again, is 10191, and although not much time has passed since the events of the first installment, much has changed for House Atreides. All but completely wiped out by the ruthless Baron Vladimir Harkonnen's (Stellan Skarsgård) army on Arrakis, the once mighty and noble clan has been reduced to a mere handful of survivors, including the late Duke Leto's only son, Paul (Timothée Chalamet), and his pregnant mother, Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). But while things may look grim for Paul and his kin, there is still hope. Heralded as the Lisan al Gaib by religious Fremen leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem), Paul and his mother find themselves taken in by a group of Arrakis' natives, who also happen to have a common enemy in the Harkonnen. And with the Baron tasking his maniacal nephew, Rabban (Dave Bautista), with restoring their House's honor by reprising their stranglehold on spice production on Arrakis, the Fremen and the last remaining Atreides must form a strategic alliance, especially if they're to have any hope of ridding Arrakis of the Harkonnen scourge once and for all.

Enter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), the concerned daughter of the galaxy's Emperor (Christopher Walken) and one of the few people who know that her father was responsible for orchestrating the war between the Harkonnens and the Atreides. Worried about what action the various Houses will take once their leaders learn about the Emperor's corrupt deeds, Irulan takes it upon herself to see what she can do to help uphold her father's place on the galactic throne. Instead, she discovers just how far Reverend Mother Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling) and the Bene Gesserit have gone to control the House bloodlines and manipulate their way toward becoming the most powerful force among all the planets. Will the Bene Gesserit's scheme to control the fate of the galaxy succeed? And what will Paul and his Fremen compatriots, including his new love, Chani (Zendaya), do when Baron Harkonnen dispatches the sociopathic Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) to settle matters on Arrakis?

Written by Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts, what follows is genuinely epic in every sense of the word, making good on the promise set forth by the cliffhanger ending to 2021's Dune and delivering a galaxy's worth of character development, backstory and blockbuster action. Suffice to say, viewers can rest assured that Dune: Part Two doesn't disappoint when it comes to bringing this next chapter of Frank Herbert's seminal tome to the big screen. And while there are bound to be some who will balk at the movie's nearly-three-hour duration, it's hard to imagine the result being as effective with a shorter running time and a less ambitious narrative.

An absolute masterclass in storytelling and world-building, Dune: Part Two is a sci-fi masterpiece on a biblical scale. And although only time will tell if Dune: Part Three will continue the series' winning streak, one fact remains indisputable — Villeneuve has delivered an unparalleled cinematic experience that's guaranteed to resonate with moviegoers for generations to come. The only question is whether, after the record-breaking success of its predecessor, audiences are prepared to have their minds blown yet again.

Dune: Part Two releases March 1st, 2024 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, some suggestive material and brief strong language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 46 min.

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