A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Dune: Part Two, much-anticipated follow-up to director Denis Villeneuve’s first instalment, is well worth waiting for, especially as only half of Frank Herbert’s landmark sci-fi novel had been adapted with no guarantee of a sequel until four days after the release of Part One.


Picking up moments after the conclusion of the 2021 blockbuster which left young Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and widowed mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) stranded in a desert wasteland where humongous sandworms lurk beneath the surface, Part Two finds the bedraggled pair still unsure if their indigenous Fremen rescuers will protect them or kill them.

The 2021 epic established how Paul’s noble father (Oscar Isaac) and his people were set up to fail in their stewardship of the spice-rich planet of Arrakis by the murderous machinations of the (unseen) Emperor and his sadistic Harkonnen allies.

Here, the story centres on Paul’s odyssey from vengeful youth-turned-eager guerrilla fighter driven to destroy the Harkonnens’ spice-collecting operation to a reluctant if prophesied messiah, plagued by fractured dreams of a destiny that could ignite a holy war as much as bring salvation. No prizes for guessing where George Lucas found inspiration for his Star Wars saga.

Once again, Chalamet impresses and demonstrates he is one of the most versatile young actors around, subtly moving from romantic hero via a tentative courtship with feisty Fremen warrior Chani (Zendaya) to a steely leader ready to wreak vengeance on Stellan Skarsgard’s grotesque, bloated Baron and his brutish nephew, the Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista).

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Austin Butler as the hairless Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen and Léa Seydoux as Lady Margot Fenring dressed in a blue headscarf and dress in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE: PART TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen and Lea Seydoux as Lady Margot Fenring in Dune: Part Two. Warner Bros/Niko Tavernise

Added to this array of formidable foes is the Emperor himself (Christopher Walken) and Feyd-Rautha, another psychotic Harkonnen nephew (chillingly played by Elvis star Austin Butler) whose cut-and-thrust duel with Paul is one of the film’s many action highlights. Also new to the cast is Florence Pugh as the Emperor’s daughter and Léa Seydoux (No Time to Die) as a mysterious Bene Gesserit witch, although their roles are not especially fleshed-out.

Spectacular sequences abound, not least Paul picking a whopper for his first attempt at worm wrangling, an exhilarating PoV rush through the dunes that leaves you breathless. Meanwhile, the introduction of Butler’s fearsome Feyd in a colossal gladiatorial arena that seems to touch the sky is shot in a mesmerising mix of monochrome and colour that would not have looked out of place in Fritz Lang’s expressionist masterpiece Metropolis. Stunning work from cinematographer Greig Fraser.

Unexpected humour leavens the “all doom and no play” mood of Part One, as Paul’s Fremen mentor Stilgar (Javier Bardem) turns cheerleader once he is convinced the Atreides heir is the messiah who will bridge time and space, past and future. It’s a mercurial turn from the Spanish star, who acts as a conduit for some gentle mockery of fundamentalist belief.

As with the Oscar-winning Part One, a thumping score from Hans Zimmer, seemingly earth-shaking sound and fabulous costumes are all present and correct, while Villeneuve confirms he is a master of scale and scope, using the excellent special effects to enhance the action and staggering visuals instead of wallowing in CGI excess, with the climactic reckoning rousingly recalling the Battle of Aqaba scene from David Lean’s majestic Lawrence of Arabia.

And with the director keen on adapting more Herbert novels and box-office prospects looking good, a third visit to the Dune universe is surely on the cards.

Dune: Part Two is in cinemas from 1st March. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.


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