Picture of Paul Atreides about to go into battle on the movie screen. Photo by Molly Soloman
Picture of Paul Atreides about to go into battle on the movie screen. Photo by Molly Soloman

Dune II: The New Star Wars? No, but Maybe Better

On March 1, 2024, Warner Bro’s sequel to the movie adaptation of one of the best-selling sci-fi novels by Frank Herbert, “Dune,” was released in theaters. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, “Dune II” has a 93% Rotten Tomatoes. Does the sequel deserve as much attention as it got? After watching it, it absolutely does. 


*Warning: the following paragraphs have slight spoilers for both “Dune” parts one and two.*


All right, let me take you through my experience during the movie. Upon entering the theater, feelings were indifferent. I had no expectations coming into it due to my lack of sci-fi culture knowledge. But, right off the bat, I’m already immersed in the movie. The roaring audio-visual experience of the film gave it a sense of realness. Though I will admit, during some of the scenes, I was a bit confused since the movie did start in such a direct way. But as the movie progressed, I began to make out the characters’ situations and relationships and admired the film’s cinematic form. “Dune II” truly is a beautiful movie. Everything from the script, set design, and even the actors was astonishing. “Dune II” has got to be one of the most creatively crafted films I have seen in theaters yet. Before watching it, many told me they thought the “Dune” movies would be the new Star Wars; I beg to differ. I think “Dune” could be a whole new era of sci-fi. 

Picture of “Dune II” showing time poster, which in my opinion is one of the coolest film posters I’ve seen this year so far. Photo by Molly Soloman

Okay, let’s talk about the actors. IMDb says the film stars are Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Zendaya as Chani, and Rebecca Ferguson as Jessica. This was a superb choice. Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya not only played the roles of the two main protagonists perfectly but even expressed their personalities through them. Not to mention Rebecca Ferguson exemplifying the character of Jessica. However, it was hard at times to take Chalamet seriously after seeing his funny alter ego in “Wonka” (another great movie, but for another time). The actors do a fantastic job portraying the character’s emotions; even I found myself incredibly invested. 


But before seeing Dune II, I recommend seeing part one or at least reading a Wikipedia summary. As soon as the screen goes black, signifying the movie is starting, you are hit with pounding music (composed by Hans Zimmer) straight into what seems to be the aftermath of a fight scene. The film will not make sense without the context, and it is extremely hard to admire the movie’s beauty without knowing what is happening. 


If you were too lazy to do that like me, here’s a rundown. These extraterrestrial beings are divided into different “houses” or people based on their planets. For example, Paul Atreides is part of The Atreides House, while Chani is part of a people called The Freman. The story’s main villains are the members of House Harkonnen, specifically Baron Harkonnen, the leader of the house. Paul has pent-up anger toward him because he killed his father and his people (I won’t get into the specific details). Only he and his mother survive the attacks, escape to the desert, and are taken in by The Fremans. Paul and his mother try to become one with The Fremans, but one issue remains. Many of The Freman people believe that Paul is the “messiah” of their galaxy and that he will fulfill the prophecy and lead them to freedom and paradise. While some of The Fremans are entirely faithful to Paul, many are skeptical, leading to immense confusion within Paul himself and his romantic relationship with Chani (a non-believer). 

Picture of B&B theater waiting area where I excitedly waited to see “Dune II.” Photo by Molly Soloman

As you can see, the movie’s storyline is complex and necessary to understand to grasp the meaning. I barely touched the tip of the iceberg during my summary. But now that you know the primary context, let’s talk about the viewer’s experience during the film. 


“Dune II” does an amazing job of engaging the audience. Throughout the film, I was immersed in the suspense and plot twists of the story. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie. “Dune II” captures its audience with its stunning visuals while telling the narrative as if you are there with the characters. With the intense music in the background, it would be hard not to get sucked into the story (as the whole theater was practically shaking). The tone shift is felt throughout the theater as we see the suspenseful and complex relationship between Paul and his lover, enemies, and people. Seeing Paul spiritually and physically develop into this character with so many layers and questions about whether he is good or bad is truly a sight to see. 


So, my final verdict for the movie is to watch it. Not only because of the exemplary viewer experience but also its intriguing storyline and astonishing actors. At first, I did not have high hopes or expectations walking in, but I was left dazed and shocked by how complex and beautiful the film was. From the cinematography to the plot itself, “Dune II” was an outstanding movie, and I recommend checking it out. Before “Dune,” I didn’t think I was a sci-fi person, but if my perspective changed, maybe yours will too.

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