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Movie Review: 'Dune 2' Starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya

Epic scope and deeply felt performances mark Dune 2 as an exceptional sequel.

By Sean PatrickPublished about a month ago 4 min read
Top Story - March 2024
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Dune 2 (2024)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Written by Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts

Starring Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Austin Butler, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista

Release Date March 1st, 2024

Published March 4th, 2024

Dune 2 is the epic and awesome follow-up to the triumphant 2021 extravaganza that manages to top the spectacle of the first while never losing sight of the characters at the heart of both films. The scope, the scale, the spectacular action and special effects, all come together to make Dune 2 a film experience not to miss. Co-written and directed by Denis Villeneuve, Dune 2 demonstrates what can happen when a visionary filmmaker is given the resources and the time to explore their vision and realize that vision in full. It's a staggering work.

Dune 2 picks up the story of the first Dune by fully revealing the conspiracy at hand. Not only was House Atreides attacked by House Harkonnen, the attack came at the behest of the Emperor of the known universe, Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken). The Emperor believed that Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac, from Dune 1), was becoming a threat to his rule so he secretly supported and influenced House Harkonnen to take over the spice trade and destroy House Atreides.

Unfortunately for the Emperor, the Harkonnen's failed to finish off House Atreides. Rumors are spreading fast regarding a leader having emerged among the Fremen, a warrior that many see as a possible messiah. The rumor goes further in stating that this supposed messiah is Paul Atreides, son of Leto and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Having been taken in by the Fremen, Paul and Lady Jessica have become members of the Fremen people with Paul taking on the name Paul Muad'Dib, and Lady Jessica accepting the role of the Reverend Mother of the Fremen, a challenge to her Bene Gesserit elder, played in both films by Charlotte Rampling.

As the story picks up, Paul's place among the Fremen is assured just as his romance with Chani (Zendaya) is taking hold. The relationship between Paul and Chani is at the heart of Dune 2 as the script sets up a natural and heartbreaking conflict between the two. Chani's defiance over the idea of Paul as this messiah like figure and Paul's having to accept the role of messiah if he is to gain revenge against the Harkonnen's and the Emperor while securing the safety of the Fremen amid the growing conflict, roils the waters of this burgeoning romance in a way that feels organic, bursting forth from the passion they feel for each other and the passion they each have for their beliefs.

This conflict is bubbling under all of Dune 2, and the budding Dune franchise, which will continue, is the conflict between predetermination and free will. Is the world set on a path that includes a messianic leader who rules over all or do people have the ability to choose for themselves? The corrupting influence of power has a big role to play as Paul tries to remain true to himself and his love for Chani while feeling the weight and pull of being a leader, a hopefully benevolent leader, but that cannot be assured. Being the leader of the known universe cannot come without potentially horrific compromises, as Paul will learn as this franchise continues.

Dune 2 is smart and exciting. The conflict is incredibly well realized while the action scenes are spectacular. The sand spreading out for miles before our heroes creates a gorgeous tableau that director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Greig Fraser never fail to exploit for its beauty. Then the sandstorms and the sand worms kick up and the action moves to another level. The war for spice and control of the universe is bloody, and surprisingly one-sided for much of the movie, a welcome change from what you might expect. It's with purpose and it works.

If I was at all disappointed with Dune 2, I was mildly disappointed by the use of Austin Butler as the villainous, Feyd Rautha. Butler is not bad in the movie, he's just barely there. Considering the pre-release hype surrounding the casting of Butler and the prominent marketing role given to his Feyd Rautha character, I expected a little more from the fight between Feyd Rautha and Paul Atreides. It's a good scene but it doesn't quite rise to the level of greatness that the film overall maintains throughout. Again, I don't blame Butler. I think the character was overhyped leading to higher expectations. The character functions well enough as used.

Dune 2 is a modern day epic. It's a visionary piece of sci-fi filmmaking with grand ambitions that are extraordinarily well realized. I had mild expectations at best for a Dune franchise and I am now a convert to the church of Dune. I love this epic story, I love these characters and I love the complicated machinations of the power struggle in the film. I loved the romance between Paul and Chani and how it forms the big, beating, sad heart of Dune 2. Chalamet and Zendaya are terrific movie stars whose deeply felt performances are key to making Dune 2 more than just a visual spectacular.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and nearly 2000 movie reviews at SeanattheMovies.blogspot.com. Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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  • LASZLO SLEZAKabout a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Testabout a month ago

    Great job! Keep up the fantastic work—congratulations!

  • Dune 2's epic story and outstanding performances are masterfully captured in your review, which makes it an absolute must-watch for both science fiction fans and moviegoers.

  • Sunnyabout a month ago

    Nice review and thanks for sharing

  • Sara Frederickabout a month ago

    Thank you for the review!

  • Stephen A. Roddewigabout a month ago

    What, no take on the popcorn bucket? The New York Times of all places wrote an article about it. That's how you know it's made it into the mainstream: https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/03/movies/dune-popcorn-bucket.html

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Lana V Lynxabout a month ago

    I loved both parts as well. I'd disagree about Butler, though: to me, there was more than enough of that sadistic character in the movie. In some scenes with him I had to close my eyes as I thought they'd go all the way with gruesome murders and cannibalism. His relatively quick death in the intense fight scene was actually a relief for me. And it was nice to see Butler as a villain, he handled the role very well.

  • Shirley Belkabout a month ago

    I just watched Dune (first one) today on one of my apps. I was left hanging and now your timely review is such a delight to me!! Thank you

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