Review: ‘Dune: Part Two’

Everything the film got right, and some things it got wrong

By Tiffany Marquez Escobar | April 9, 2024 11:00am
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

As the pre-show commercials came to a close, engulfing the audience with total darkness, a distorted voice eerily spoke. “Power over Spice is power over all.” Everyone around me fell completely silent, waiting to become immersed in the sandy world of Dune. After three long years, the highly anticipated sequel to “Dune: Part One” was finally here. 

With the film lasting a whopping two hours and 46 minutes, I worried it would be difficult to keep my eyes open just like when watching “Dune: Part One.” However, “Dune: Part Two” had an advantage over the previous installment for me: being screened in theaters. 

The way the film utilized sound to invoke emotions in the audience was ingenious. It was definitely something the first installment lacked. I’m not just talking about the typical Hollywood sounds of explosions and gunfire — this movie went even further than that. 

The concept of “the voice,” which is a form of mind control in the Dune universe that Paul (Timothee Chalamet) possesses, was a stellar use of sound. In order to convey to the audience that “the voice” was somewhat of a sinister power that our protagonist had, it was ominous, completely surrounding the audience as if the voice was whispering in your ear. It ran chills up my spine. 

Similarly to “Dune: Part One,” the cinematography was exceptional. The shots of the pure landscape, with the characters staring off into the orange abyss of the sand dunes, made me look at the desert as a character of its own. This portrayal of the desert was crucial to understanding the tribe of the Fremen, whom the story revolved around. Their entire culture centered on their relationship with the desert, as seen when they summon and ride the sandworms. 

This worked equally as well when the film panned to the bleak and lifeless world of the antagonists of the film. We’ve all seen the photos of Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler), his features sharp and his skin paler than snow. When the audience is taken to his world, everything is black and white, completely contrasting the beige desert. 

The storyline was predictable. The plot lacked any noteworthy traits and reminded me of the story in “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” Paul and Anakin are one in the same: the hero you’re rooting for until you realize he will succumb to his desire for power. Both characters abandoned their mentors and their teachings while also betraying their love-interests. I didn’t read the novel “Dune” beforehand but I still knew how it would end. 

Yet, I believe the storyline had a redeeming quality.

“Dune: Part Two” demonstrated a critique on the weaponization of religion. The Fremen had been subject to cultural and political persecution, mainly due to the fact that their home planet contains the valuable “spice” substance that is hunted by the aristocratic Houses. This led to them forming a resistance against imperial rule. Their deep history of oppression has led them to further lean into their belief in the messiah, and that Paul was that messiah.

The message became the most impactful part of the film, leaving me, as an audience member, reflecting on what the film was trying to say. Science fiction works are known for making real-world political statements. However, not all film adaptations stay true to those messages. “Dune: Part Two” gave me hope that science fiction will continue to offer political and social commentary and further challenge new generations of audiences. 

In discussing political and social commentary, it’s difficult to ignore the film’s exploitation of Middle Eastern, North African and Muslim cultures. The usage of hijabs, niqabs and abayas in the costumes for the Fremen women as well as the Arabic roots in the fictional language of the tribe were clearly inspired by these cultures. Still, the film failed to credit the source material and instead chose to use an almost all white cast. Even Stilgar (Javier Bardem), with his “foreign” accent, was played by a white, Spanish man. The film could have potentially argued that the usage of Arab culture was unintentional, but the filmmakers decided to cast actors of color for the majority of the background characters. I was left wondering when Hollywood would stop centering sci-fi stories solely around white characters.

“Dune: Part Two” is an immersive experience. Despite its flaws, it's a film that served as a reminder as to why I still bother visiting theaters. The story would not have been as captivating or impactful on a streaming service. Besides, nothing beats the aroma of warm, buttered popcorn or the first refreshing sip of soda as you sit back, allowing yourself to be completely transported to a world beyond your own. 

Final Rating: ★★★☆☆

Tiffany Marquez Escobar is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at