Dune: Part Two
Denis Villeneuve completes his definitive adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel, but perhaps does a bit too much set-up for a possible adaptation of Dune Messiah.

Dune: Part Two

Release Date: March 1, 2024
Runtime: 02:46
Paul Atreides unites with Chani and the Fremen while seeking revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family.

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Paul Atreides joins the Fremen people to get revenge against the House of Harkonnen in Dune: Part Two. After the fall of House Atreides on Arrakis, the result of a joint attack by the forces of Baron Harkonnen () and Emperor Shaddam IV (). Paul Atreides () and his mother Lady Jessica () take refuge with the Fremen of Sietch Tabr led by Stilgar (). Paul begins to learn the Fremen's ways and falls for Chani (Zendaya). However, Paul begins to worry that the Fremen's view of him as the prophesized messiah would bring disaster.

Adopting the nicknames “Muad'Dib” and “Usul,” Paul assists the Fremen in sabotaging the spice harvesting operations overlooked by the Baron's nephew Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista). This results in the Baron bringing in Rabban's psychotic younger brother Feyd-Rautha () to take over as the ruler of Arakis. Meanwhile, Paul reunites with his old mentor Gurney Halleck () and devises a plan to permanently take control of Arakis away from the Harkonnens.

Dune: Part Two Synopsis

Denis Villeneuve returns to co-write and direct this second half of his epic adaptation of the 1965 science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert. Picking up immediately after the conclusion of the previous film, Dune: Part Two begins with Princess Irulan () writing a diary about the Harkonnen annihilation of House Atreides, which was assisted by her father Emperor Shaddam IV. Having barely survived the attack, Paul Atreides and his mother Lady Jessica find themselves joined up with Arrakis' indigenous Fremen people.

Thanks to the work of the Bene Gesserits, including Gaius Helen Mohiam () and Lady Margot Fenring (), a section of the Fremen people, including Stilgar, believe Paul to be the prophesized Lisan al Gaib. Lady Jessica, pregnant with a child who speaks to her from the womb, fuels these beliefs when she is made the new Reverend Mother of the Fremen. However, Paul's latest visions suggest that if he accepts this messianic path, it will bring about war and death.

Dune: Part Two Synopsis

Some are not a fan of book adaptations being split into multiple films, however combining the 2h35m running time of Dune: Part One with the 2h46m runtime of this film results in a complete 5h21m story, which exceeds the length of the 2000 SYFI miniseries, which was previously the most complete adaptation of the novel. Denis Villeneuve's Dune also eclipses the much-maligned 1984 adaptation directed by David Lynch, which tried to fit the entire novel into a 2h17m running time.

It is amazing to think that Denis Villeneuve is a French Canadian filmmaker, who at one point was best known for directing acclaimed Quebecois dramas, such as Polytechnique and Incendies. His move to Hollywood filmmaking with 2009's Prisoners seemed to be building up to making Dune, particularly his sci-fi films Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. Now Denis Villeneuve has created what can probably be considered the definitive adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel.

Even though Dune: Part Two was not yet greenlit when the first film was released, seeds for the film were already planted, with Dune: Part Two featuring much extended roles for Zendaya's Chani and Javier Bardem's Stilgar. The two are portrayed as opposites, with Stilgar being a true believer in the possibility that Paul Atreides is the messiah, while Chani is the skeptical voice of reason. This characterization helps to make Chani more than just a love interest, particularly during the second half of the film, when she becomes more concerned about Paul giving in to the prophecy.

This increased character development for Chani is one of many changes that Denis Villeneuve made from the original novel. Another change from the novel is how he wanted to emphasize how Paul Atreides going down a messianic path would have grave consequences, going against interpretations that the story of Dune is a hero's journey and instead leaving questioning who you should be cheering for. These changes also help tie Dune: Part Two in better with Dune Messiah, which Denis Villeneuve wants to adapt next to conclude a trilogy, and he has already planted seeds by casting Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan, as well as a very brief cameo by Anya Taylor-Joy as a character familiar to those who have read the novels.

As a whole, Dune: Part Two can be considered a darker and more epic film than the previous one. Part of the darker nature of the film comes from the addition of Austin Bulter (Elvis) as the violent and psychotic Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen. Previously best known for having been played by musician Sting wearing a speedo in the 1984 film, Butler's Feyd-Rautha adopts the similar white-skinned bald appearance of the other Harkonnen, with Butler even doing a decent job at replicating Stellan Skarsgård's speaking patterns.

If there is a criticism that I have to give Dune: Part Two is that perhaps Denis Villeneuve overdoes his Dune Messiah set-up, ending the film without a full sense of resolution. However, the film is still and cinematic spectacle and should be seen on the biggest screen possible.

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Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two explores the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.