Dune Part Two review: Timothée Chalamet shines in masterful sci-fi epic

Dune: Part Two (Warner Bros.)
Dune: Part Two stars Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya as Paul Atreides and Chani. (Warner Bros.)

Frank Herbert's Dune was once said to be impossible to adapt, but Denis Villeneuve has proven how wrong that sentiment is — especially with Dune: Part Two.

Continuing where things left off in the 2021 film, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) are set on integrating with Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen after escaping from the clutches of the Harkonnens. For Paul this means trying to learn their customs, for Lady Jessica it's about convincing the Fremen that her son is the prophesied leader they've been waiting for.

All the while, the Harkonnen's scramble to recapture their hold of Arrakis and spice mining, while Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken), the Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe, fears the rise of a new and dangerous figurehead on the desert planet.

(L-R) Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Zendaya as Chani in Dune: Part Two. (Warner Bros./Legendary)
Both Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides rise to the challenge of playing their complex and fascinating characters. (Warner Bros./Legendary)

Dune: Part Two is a masterful piece of work, and it is a strong contender to be named Villeneuve's greatest gift to cinema. From the unique worlds he has created to the impressive way he has adapted the source material —and as accurately as possible— it cannot be understated how impressive this sequel is.

The film is awash with stunning visuals and sequences that the director has expertly brought to life from Herbert's novel, the level of detail in the film is awe-inspiring and the director's unique vision is only added to by the incredible work of his cast.

When Zendaya first appeared in Dune: Part One viewers were disappointed by her lack of screentime, but Part Two is where she is able to shine. Chani is a fascinating character, someone who challenges Paul in both a personal and political sense — Villeneuve has helped make Chani more than just a love interest to the hero, she's strong-willed and righteous, and Zendaya depicts that beautifully.

Florence Pugh in a still from the trailer for Dune: Part Two (Warner Bros.)
Though Florence Pugh is not in the Dune: Part Two much she steals every scene she is in. (Warner Bros.)

Chalamet also rises to the challenge of playing Paul, a character whose future is so dark it needed the actor to approach the role with care so that it hints at, but doesn't completely give away, what he is to become in Dune: Messiah, should the sequel get green-lit. Chalamet is charismatic in one moment and terrifying the next, and the actor proves his remarkable acting ability to bring this difficult character to life and make it look easy.

Much like with Zendaya in Part One, Florence Pugh's character Princess Irulan, the Emperor's daughter, only gets an introduction in the sequel, but even with the little screentime she has Pugh steals the show whether that's with her delivery, or a simple look. Javier Bardem's Fremen leader Stilgar is also a highlight of the film, as is Austin Butler who embraces the unpredictable nature of Feyd-Rautha — Baron Harkonnen's psychotic nephew.

Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune: Part Two. (Warner Bros./Legendary)
Denis Villeneuve uses stunning visuals to bring the world of Frank Herbert's novel to life. (Warner Bros./Legendary)

For all the talent and stunning visuals, the film does take its time to gain momentum. By virtue of being an accurate depiction of Herbert's work, the narrative begins at the middle-point of the novel and that means a lot of time is spent on Paul's time with the Fremen and Lady Jessica's machinations to make them see him as their leader. For some this initial slower pace may be a challenge, but when the story gets going it gains speed quickly with the story ending on a thrilling note that will wow audiences.

What did other critics think of Dune: Part Two?

The Independent: Audacious, intimate, and menacing like no other blockbuster in existence (5-min Read)

Evening Standard: Epic! Epic! Epic! This space opera can do no wrong (2-min Read)

The Telegraph: When was the last time a $120m blockbuster was this stately, this sinister? (3-min Read)

Dune: Part Two will blow audiences away thanks to its awe-inspiring cinematography and captivating story, while it might be slow to start the pay off is well worth it. With the wonderful performances from its central cast adding to Villeneuve's incredible vision, it is hard not to see that this film is an absolute masterpiece.

  • 🎞️ When is Dune: Part Two out in cinemas: Friday, 1 March

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 5/5

  • 🎭 Who's in it? Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Christopher Walken, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Stellan Skarsgard, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem.

  • 👍 What we liked: Denis Villeneuve has adapted Frank Herbert in a remarkable way, and the film's stunning visuals and captivating narrative is beautifully brought to life by the cast.

  • 👎 What we didn't: Given the point at which Dune: Part One stops adapting the novel, the narrative could feel like it begins at a slower pace for some.

  • 📖 What's it about? After the events of the 2021 film, Paul Atreides begins to aclimatise to life with the Fremen as his mother's plans to make them believe he is their prophesied leader begins to bear fruit.

Watch the trailer for Dune: Part Two