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'Dune: Part Two' movie review with Casey

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Movie poster for the science fiction film "Dune"
Theatrical release poster

The wait is over for science-fiction fans as the sequel Dune: Part Two has hit theaters bringing an end to the leaner movie months of January and February. Most of the same cast members are back in this sequel continuing the high stakes saga of revolution, uprising and power on the desert planet Arrakis.

Dune: Part Two begins immediately after the events of the initial Dune film (2021) with the protagonist Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet, Wonka, 2023) building a new life with his mother (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One, 2023) in the desolate sand dunes with the secretive tribes of natives. Paul organizes an army to attack the planet's capital and bring revenge to the enemies who murdered his family in the first Dune film.

An important part of any memorable sci-fi film is establishing a fictional futuristic world that is marvelous and believable, and this film delivers that like you would not believe. Director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, 2017) and cinematographer Greg Fraser (The Creator, 2023), who both worked together on the 2021 Dune film, create the most arresting visual magic that it completely transports you.

There's vast arid landscapes of sand, giant rock formations, gliding biomorphic spacecrafts and a hulking gladiator arena. (And of course the massive sand worms get much more screen time than before.) This film reminds movie lovers of the artistic capabilities of cinema.

With such a rich multitude of settings, visual effects, and action sequences, Dune: Part Two could so easily be a film just for sci-fi spectacle (like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets from 2017 or Alita: Battle Angel from 2019). But it amazingly manages to be about more, with realistic relationships and surprising discoveries that lead our protagonist to claim his destiny as a prophesied messiah.

This sequel is more complex, more spiritually reflective, and more ominous that the previous Dune, and because of its patiently written dialogue and controlled balance of intimate emotion with exciting action, it's a satisfying adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel. Both Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya (Spider-Man: No Way Home, 2021) give the most strongly focused performances, helping the emotions and relationships feel real.

But please consider yourself warned, this film is a lot. With so many characters to keep track of, deep discussions on the dangers of religious devotion, and a director with such a sensitive hand to ensure nothing feels rushed, Dune: Part Two is two hours and 46 minutes long. So don't go into this one with a full bladder.

British film critic Mark Kermode said recently in his review of Dune: Part Two, "Sci-fi is a genre in which ideas and wonderment coincide." And all viewers will get more than enough of those things with this dazzling, epic vision of a man coming of age and making his rightful possession of a throne.

With the success of these two Dune films, and the intellectually brilliant grandeur of Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Denis Villeneuve is fast becoming a vision maker for the sci-fi genre taking it to places that feel both visually impossible and mentally challenging.

Casey T. Allen is a native of Utah who graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 2007. He has worked in many capacities throughout USU campus and enjoys his time at UPR to continually exercise his writing.