(director/writer: Denis Villeneuve; screenwriter: based on the novel by Frank Herbert, Jon Spaihts; cinematographer: Greig Fraser; editor: Joe Walker; music: Hans Zimmer; cast: Timothee Chalamet (Paul Atreides), Zendaya (Chani), Rebecca Ferguson (Jessica), James Brolin (Gurney Halleck), Austin Butler (Feyd-Rautha), Javier Bardem (Stilgar), Florence Pugh (Princess Irulan), Christopher Walken (Emperor Shaddam), Charlotte Rampling (Reverend Mother Mohiam), Lea Seydoux (Lady Margot Fenring), Dave Bautisa (Beast Rabban), Souheiler Yacoub (Shishakli), Stellan Skarsgard (Baron Harkonnen): Runtime: 166; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Mary Parent, Gale Boyter, Tanya Lapointe, Patrick McCormick, Denis Villeneuve; Warner Bros.; 2024)

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

After directing the original Dune in 2021, the Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”/”Enemy”) returns to magnificently direct and write the follow-up for the epic sci-fi film with co-writer Jon Spaihts. It’s based on the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert.

The dazzling CGI visuals are so good they deserve to be seen on the big screen to get its full impact.

Part Two picks up after
Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) won in the original film a sword-fight with a hostile Fremen warrior in the desert wastes of Arrakis. Paul’s nobleman father after assigned by Emperor Shaddam (Christopher Walken) to govern the planet of Arrakis, had been killed by the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård), who with the Emperor’s approval, takes over again the guardianship of the important planet with the sole source of the invaluable Spice. The fascist-like Baron schemes to eliminate the House of Atreides for good by having its only survivors, Paul and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), left in the desert to die. He’s helped in this wicked endeavor by his psychotic nephew Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler).

To survive, Paul and his mom must take shelter with the nomadic rebel Fremen tribe. Paul is given the name Muad’Dib, and promises the skeptical tribe to be their “messiah” or “chosen one,” and also to lead them to paradise with military victory.

Two intertwining stories are now followed.

In one story, there’s the fight against the Harkonnens with the Fremen tribe and Paul. The ruthless ones crave to control the invaluable “spices” on the planet
Arrakis, that allows them to make space travel happen. The weapons used in the colorful battle scenes range from swords to missiles.

In the other story, Paul, as an outsider, transforms himself into a wise military and political leader who must gain the confidence of the doubting Fremen to follow his leadership if there’s any chance of winning the war. Paul is helped in these efforts by the support of the religious Fremen believer and leader Stilgar (
Javier Bardem) and by the intimate love relationship he develops with his mentor, the fierce Fremen warrior Chani (Zendaya).

By the time we reach the climax, Paul has earned his right to be the leader of the Fremen.

There are many in supporting roles who do fine jobs, including Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan, the Emperor’s daughter; James Brolin as Paul’s childhood mentor Gurney; and, Dave Bautisa as the Beast Rabban.

This follow-up action-packed spectacle version surpasses even the first-rate original (no dull spots here).
The filmmaker’s story-telling smartly captures the ill-effects of living under a dictatorship who are carrying out a government colonial policy and a corrupt capitalist system.