FILM REVIEW — “Dune 2” lives up to the hype

Published 12:02 am Friday, March 1, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

“Dune: Part 2”

Warner Brothers Films

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler and Stellan Skarsgard

Rated PG-13

3 ½ Stars

Easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year, “Dune: Part 2” finally makes its way into theaters this weekend, and I am thrilled to report it is every bit as good as I had hoped it would be.

Then again, I am one of those superfans who read the original novel and its sequels multiple times, so while I think that this movie is great, less ardent devotees may not be quite as moved.

Still, it’s hard to deny that “Dune 2” does a masterful job at world building, tells a thrilling story and delivers some of the most impressive science fiction images ever committed to film.

I won’t be alone in calling this a science fiction masterpiece, and an early candidate for one of the best pictures of the year.

For those who may not have seen the 2021 first installment, this is the continuing story of two royal houses that go to war for control over the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), which is the only place in the galaxy that produces a mystery substance known colloquially as “Spice.”

That’s the drug that enhances the mind, and perhaps most-notably, allows for the possibility of interstellar travel.

The first movie took us to the point of a surprise attack where our heroes, Paul (Timothee Chalamet) and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) were left to die in the middle of the desert.

Little did the villains know that they would be rescued by a hearty band of desert dwellers known as the Fremen, or that Paul would find his true love in the form of a freedom fighter known as Chani (Zendaya).

Together, they lead a Fremen army in rebellion to take back the planet, and thus control over the production of the all-powerful spice.

Superfans may quibble with this oversimplification of the story, especially as the movies manage to incorporate so many of the details from Frank Hebert’s beloved novels.

Still, I will point out that there are a few notable changes/omissions, but that’s expected in any screenplay adaptation. All things considered; I think the writing will leave most fans satisfied.

Even better, it’s the production design that really brings this story to life. From the vast desert settings to the sci fi military hardware to the giant sandworms patrolling the sands, this is a fully realized environment that, in combination with Hanz Zimmer’s percussive score, completely transports you to Dune.

If this is a masterpiece, the world building is the element that most makes this movie special.

The acting is uniformly solid. Chalamet and Zendaya have charisma to burn, as does newcomer Austin Butler as a lethal villain who almost foils our heroes’ plans. The only misfire in the cast comes from Christopher Walken, playing the Galactic emperor.

Even here, the character is supposed to be a little crazy, so perhaps any performance would feel somewhat disconnected from the rest of the cast.

Ultimately, “Dune: Part 2” should prove to be the first real blockbuster of the new year. It should convince the fans and general audiences alike to return to the movie theaters for this big screen spectacle.

I think that they will love the trip, although I do think the sandworm themed popcorn buckets are a little silly, but everything else is wonderful.

This should be a critical and commercial hit, and perhaps best of all, Villeneuve is so invested in this story that he’s reportedly at work on a sequel taken from “Dune Messiah.”

Whether that ultimately happens or not, “Dune: Part 2” is a great science fiction epic—a sequel that absolutely lives up to the hype.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia. Sean welcomes your comments via email at