top of page

REVIEW: Dune Part 2 - The Rare Sequel that Surpasses the Original

By Haydn Elmore | March 4, 2024

“Dune Part 2” picks up where “Dune Part 1” left off, with Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) joining the Fremen in an attempt to get revenge on the evil forces who attacked his family and home – all while developing a romance with Chani (Zendaya) in the process. This leads to Paul having an internal struggle between the leader of the Fremern uprising and being a young man who wants to find a true connection with the love of his life.

Despite coming out amid the pandemic and being released in theaters at the same time on HBO MAX, the first part of director Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of “Dune” was a critical and commercial success. Critics and fans praised the film for its directing, visual presentation, performances, and faithfulness to the source material. At the box office, it grossed over $430 million against a $165 million budget. It is no surprise that a sequel that covers the second half of the book would be in the works, and after years and years of anticipation, “Dune Part 2” has finally arrived. The end result is a sequel that not only lived up to “Part 1,” but also surpassed it at every level.

A huge aspect of what makes this film an improvement is that it feels alive both in terms of the scale and emotional depth. Where “Part 1” puts more focus on building the world of Arrakis and setting up the characters, “Part 2” puts more time into allowing the world and the characters to be free and alive. The film has a ton of moments where we see Paul getting to be a part of the Fremen culture and learning their ways, and they have presented in a very naturalistic and grounded way that allows for the pacing to be in a steady pace making the characters as more believable people in between the action sequences, and allowing the cinematography to get tons of close-ups and wide shots that captures the emotional connection between the characters and the locations they’re inhabiting.

Speaking of cinematography, Greg Frasier’s cinematography in this is nothing short of spectacular. He really steps up the game in terms of experimenting with different color use, utilizing a mixture of yellows, browns, reds, blacks, and whites this time around, and providing tons of wide shots that capture the world and scope of Arrakis at any given moment. He also allows those moments for medium and close-up shots that capture the intimacy of the characters, particularly in the romance between Paul and Chani. 

The film expands on the themes of the state of one’s free will, the war within different factions, and the concept of the chosen one set by the first film. More emphasis is placed on earlier themes and additional themes about religion, love, power, choice, and the darkness that can creep into oneself. 

Throughout the film, Paul is constantly battling within himself on whether or not he should be the messiah he’s referred to by the Fremen. All of which is compelling to watch how his character goes through that internal struggle and the end result of it, without going into spoilers, is riveting yet ultimately tragic. This is shown through the fantastic performance from Timothee Chalamet that captures both the tender humanity and the growing evil within Paul Atreides. Denis Villeneuve’s take on the character from Frank Herbert’s novel feels true to how it is like in the book, while also standing on its own.

This isn’t just the Timothee show however, as he is also aided by an incredible cast that gives top-notch performances and provides so much depth and nuance to their characters, no matter how big or small their roles are. Some of the highlights include Zendaya as Chani, who is trying to fight for the Fremen and isn’t behind Paul being the messiah that will lead her people to freedom. Recbecca Furgeron as Lady Jessica (who becomes the Reverend Mother) starts to become more aware of Paul’s future as Muad’Dib, leader of the Freman. Even newcomers like Austin Butler shine as the villainous Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, destined to lead the House Harkonnen into war with the Fremen.

Other aspects of this film that deserve its share of praise include Hans Zimmer’s best score in years which makes every scene feel intense and exciting, like the scene when Paul rides with the sandworm for the first time. It also finds those moments in between the excitement to be gentle and more human with the score, like with the theme between Paul and Chani’s romance for example. The sound design is loud and mysterious that brings you into the world of this film with commission and force, the visual effects are a perfect mixture of CGI and practical effects that make you believe the world is real, and action sequences that are massive and bombastic that you start to lose your mind upon watching them.

Yet none of it would have been possible without the love and dedication that came from director Denis Villeneuve’s vision behind it all. When you watch the film, you can see how much of a fan of the book he is and how that translated through the way he and his team crafted the world. Including getting the core aspects of the book’s characters and themes with love and care. Even though it does suffer with the adaptation method of leaving and changing certain aspects of the source material to make it more accessible for audiences who are new to the series, Villeneuve doesn’t downplay the audience – but allows them to experience it in the way he envisioned that gets them invested regardless if they are fans of the book or not. He’s a prime example of an artist who understands what the audience wants while also allowing the chance to show them what they have in store for them.

In short, “Dune Part 2” is a bonafide masterpiece that expanded the greatness of “Part 1” and gives the world of “Dune” a whole new life with incredible action setpieces, fantastic performances, stunning visuals, excellent directing, and a perfect mixture of story, character, themes, and world building that does justice to Frank Herbert’s original work. Go out and see this on the biggest screen imaginable, because this is a true cinematic event you do not want to miss out on seeing.

Grade: 10/10

“Dune Part 2” is now playing in theaters and IMAX.


bottom of page