Our Dune: Part Two Review in Just One Word? Epic!

Movie of the year?
By: Astrid Zulhaime
March 12, 2024

If you clicked on this article, we’re guessing you’re one of the millions who bought tickets to watch the current number one movie in the world. Or you could be someone who wants to know if Dune: Part Two is worth watching and you don’t mind reading spoilers. Regardless, consider this your warning, as our Dune: Part Two review is not spoiler-free in the slightest.

Dune: Part Two picks up right where Dune ended, following the story of main character Paul Atreides as he navigates the planet Arrakis after the fall of House Atreides. He and his mother, Lady Jessica, are taken in by Sietch Tabr who taught him the Fremen ways. Paul spent most of the movie fighting against a prophecy that will set him on the path of a holy war, but when he drank the Water of Life that gave him prescience, he saw that the only way for him and his loved ones to prevail was to start the war himself. Thus Paul embraced being the Lisan al Gaib, the messiah the Fremen have been waiting for and led the holy war that will kill billions across the universe. All hail Space Hitler?

Let’s delve into what we think of Denis Villeneuve’s eagerly anticipated sequel to Dune (2020), delayed due to last year’s SAG AFTRA and WGA strikes. Dune: Part Two is already Hollywood’s highest-grossing movie of 2024, and for good reason.

Our Dune: Part Two Review

1. The Performances

We can say for absolute certain that Dune: Part Two crushed the belief that there aren’t any movie stars left in the film industry. If that’s the case, what exactly would you call Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Florence Pugh, and Austin Butler, except the next generation of Hollywood’s movie stars? The young talent displayed in the movie was so immense that if the Academy ever rewarded science fiction films at the Oscars, the cast of Dune: Part Two would’ve been shoo-ins to sweep all the awards next year.

Social media quickly learned that it’s a daunting task to pick a singular best performance from the movie. The hilarious consensus online is that “the actor who put on the best performance in the Dune sequel is the actor that the camera is currently on.” However, we have our favourites here at Glitz and they’re none other than Zendaya’s Chani and Austin Butler’s Feyd-Rautha. Our apologies to Muad’Dib.

The movie depicted Chani as far more than just the hero’s love interest — she’s a fearless Fremen warrior who would kill and die for her country and her people without a second thought. It goes without saying that Chani did not deserve to be betrayed by Paul in nearly every way, but the performance it inspired from Zendaya is a balm to our pained souls. Her ability to portray Chani’s anger and heartbreak through just her eyes is extraordinary, more than worthy of becoming the final shot in Dune: Part Two. Talk about leaving a lasting impression that follows you all the way out of the theatre.

As the na-Baron of Giedi Prime, Austin Butler’s Feyd-Rautha was the heir set to inherit his planet from uncle Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Having grown up with an uncle like that, it’s no wonder that Feyd is a ruthless killing machine. Butler’s transformation into the cunning na-Baron ran further than skin-deep, making his (amazing) prosthetics play second fiddle to the physicality of his dark performance. Butler was truly terrifying in Dune: Part Two and he stole every scene he was in, right until the inevitable end of his character as Paul’s narrative foil.

2. The Cinematography

We’ll be honest, when director Villeneuve stated that it’s crucial to view Dune: Part Two on IMAX, we might have rolled our eyes a little. Flashbacks to Oppenheimer, anyone? However, Dune: Part Two was shot digitally using the ARRI Alexa camera and later converted to IMAX 70mm film, so it really is best if you viewed the movie in an IMAX theatre. There are certain shots that are much less visually stunning and even appear a little flat when watched through the standard cinema lens. No wonder IMAX screenings made up almost a quarter of the box office total for Dune: Part Two, in this current economy to boot.

We know times are tough, but if you’re a fan of cinema, we highly encourage you to book IMAX tickets for this one. It’s always awe-inspiring to witness how good Villeneuve is at capturing the scale of his movies, but he outdid himself with Dune‘s sequel. In a movie that’s set on multiple planets across the universe, the French director had no other choice but to properly depict the massive scale of the story and he didn’t fail even once. As they say, go big or go home!

The visual standout of the entire film has to be Feyd-Rautha’s arena fight scene at Giedi Prime, shot in black and white by cinematographer Greig Fraser using infrared lighting. The entire monochromatic sequence alone makes a trip to the cinema worth it. Dune: Part Two may not score any acting awards next year due to genre bias, but we’d bet anything that multiple technical awards are already in the bag with this one.

3. Bonus: The Cultural Impact

If you’re dead set on skipping the Dune: Part Two hype, we feel a little sorry for you because the internet will be quite confusing for the next few months. As soon as the film hit theatres, Dune: Part Two memes began to flood social media with most of them starring Javier Bardem’s character Stilgar. The Fremen leader of Sietch Tabr was both the comic relief and the religious fanatic in the movie who hyped up his bestie Paul AKA Muad’Dib AKA the Lisan al Gaib every chance he got. The internet clearly loves a good hype man, judging by the countless Stilgar memes like the one shown above.

On the other side of the coin, Dune: Part Two revived the negative commentary that started decades ago since the source material by Frank Herbert came out. It’s more than fine to be inspired by a specific culture when making art, but when none of the actors in the movie are in any way linked to said society, it becomes a problem to say the least. We would have loved to see Middle Eastern and Muslim talent present in the cast of Dune: Part Two but since this is Hollywood, we suppose it’s too much to ask for. Guess we’ll have to settle for Caucasian actors wearing costumes inspired by hijabs, niqabs, and abayas instead.

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