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The epic, visually resplendent Dune, Part Two builds on part one’s grand themes and rewards you with a richly layered tale about colonialism and religion, that unfortunately rushes its third act.

Picking up Paul Atreides’ quest to avenge his family’s death and lead an insurrection on the desert planet of Arrakis, Dune Part Two is the kind of ambitious, intelligent, entertaining science-fiction that hardly ever gets made anymore.

The picture starts off slowly but as it adds fascinating new characters – most notably Austin Butler’s psychopath Feyd-Rautha – and tackles the dangers of religious extremism head-on you start to understand why Dune has entranced so many people over the past six decades.

Both Paul Atreides’ gradual embrace of his role as a messiah, his mother’s descent into extremist religious views and the Harkonnen’s insatiable lust for money and power go far beyond science-fiction tropes: they speak to dangers present in our own world today. That thematic heft alone will assure that Dune, Part Two will endure as a formidable cinematic achievement.

Adding to the film’s many merits are a cast on top form (Chalamet, Butler, Bardem and Ferguson are particular standouts), a sound design that has you shaking in your seat and some of the most impressive cinematography you’ll see all year, all of which combine in perhaps the movie’s most genuinely thrilling scene: Paul Atreides riding a giant sandworm.

The one thing that keeps me from calling Dune, Part Two an outright triumph is the picture’s denouement, which feels rushed and – unlike most of the rest of the movie – sacrifices character nuances for quick plot propulsion.

release: 2024

director: Denis Villeneuve

starring: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem


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