'Dune: Part Two' review: The rise of Paul Atreides 2
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in 'Dune: Part Two.' Warner Bros. Pictures

'Dune: Part Two' review: The rise of Paul Atreides

Denis Villaneuve continues to weave his elegant vision of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic.
Fred Hawson | Feb 29 2024

At the end of "Dune: Part 1" (2021), we see hero Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) in joining the Fremen led by Stiglar (Javier Bardem). He had met the girl in his dreams, Chani (Zendaya). He would fight alongside the Fremen against the Harkonnens, and would eventually be accepted as one of them. He was given the secret name Usul ("base of the pillar"), and a war name Muad'Dib ("mouse of the desert"). 

His Bene Gesserit mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) had been invited by the Fremen to be the replacement of their old Reverend Mother. Jessica had to drink the blue-colored liquid poison extracted from a sandworm called Water of Life, giving her immense powers of awareness. Jessica was pregnant at that time, so the Water also gave the baby in her womb the same powers. She used her influence to plot Paul's messianic ascent. 

Denis Villaneuve continues to weave his elegant vision of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic. Because Part One already did much of the world-building and character introductions, this Part Two could focus on the rise of Paul Atreides from a sandworm-riding warrior, the first man to drink the Water of Life, to the leader of the Fremen's rebellion against Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) and the Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken). 

As it was from the first film, Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides carried the film squarely on his shoulders with aplomb, ably supported by Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin as his trusted mates. 

Rebecca Ferguson had a sinister vibe about her as the Reverend Mother. Zendaya's Chani stood by Paul's side, but spoke her mind. She received a jolting surprise before the film ended, which will surely be further explored in Part Three. 

Aside from Walken, there were three other notable newcomers in the cast. Austin Butler was scary as the psychotic Harkonnen nephew Feyd-Rautha (the character Sting played in full camp in the 1984 film). Léa Seydoux played Bene Gesserit Lady Margot Fenring, whose skills for seduction were used for political ends. Florence Pugh narrates the story as the Emperor's daughter Princess Irulan, for whom marriage secured a strategic alliance. 

The technical merits of this sequel maintains the high standards of cinematography (Greig Fraser), film editing (Joe Walker) and musical score (Hans Zimmer) set in the first film. 

The scenes featuring the sandworms were excellently executed, from the exhilarating first time Paul rode the giant grandfather worm Shai Hulud, or that scene where the Maker Keeper (Alison Halstead) demonstrates how to extract the Water of Life from a teenage worm. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."