Shaye Pillips, Asst. Features Editor–

This movie review contains spoilers.

Suit up and prepare to re-enter the world of spice, sandworms, politics, and prophecies. Both longtime fans of the book series and those who became interested after seeing Zendaya posing majestically on the movie poster will be thrilled to return to the futuristic desert world with “Dune: Part Two”. 

Released nearly three years after the first installment, “Dune: Part Two” immediately became a box office hit. The movie made $82.5 million during opening weekend. Audience members seem to be highly pleased with the film, with it reaching a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%. But is the film worth all the rage?

“Dune” is a story about the power struggles between multiple intergalactic factions. Spice is the greatest source of wealth and control over it guarantees control over the universe. Both “Dune” movies focus on the brewing war between the nobel, House Atreides and the brutal, House Harkonnen. 

The Harkonnens are the main antagonist, with their demolition of House Atreides being their most sadistic scheme. The “hero” of the story, Paul Atriedes, portrayed by Timotheé Chalamet sets out to avenge both his people and to protect the Fremen against the Harkonnens. Paul believes he shall be the only one who can lead them to victory. According to a prophecy, he is the Lisan Al’ Gaib, the voice from the outer world who will lead the Fremen paradise.

What “Dune: Part Two” achieves in world-building and immersion for the audience, it lacks in developing any substantial characters. The movie starts off right where the first one left off, with Paul joining the Fremen, eager to help them fight against the Harkonnens. Despite this, Paul is by no means an altruistic, honorable “hero”. The shift from him being a humble comrade in arms to this unfeeling, power driven monster should have made his character the most complex. Unfortunately, the movie fails to show this progression in a way that seems believable and meaningful. 

While it is implied that Paul spends the first half of the movie questioning his destiny and his motivations in regards to the Fremen, he never openly expresses or much shares these fears with anyone. There is one point in the movie where a slight shift in Paul’s true nature is shown, when he decides to unlock the secret stash of explosives. However, he still makes it clear how apprehensive he is about leading.

It is not until he drinks this magical blue liquid, the Water of Life, that he makes the decision to fully seize control. The fact that drinking a liquid is why he strays him from his former values buries any sort of interesting dynamics his character could have had. Where was his thought process during all of this? 

When Paul’s big moment comes during the conference, it does not feel like it bears much emotional weight. Even empathizing with Chani, his Fremen lover, who was rightly distressed over Paul’s actions was difficult because what was happening seemed so out of context. 

Zendaya’s character barely plays much of a role. She’s a valiant fighter, as most Fremen warriors are, but rarely does she get to show off her skills. I do not recall her getting to participate much in fight scenes except the brief one against some Harkonnen invaders. But, in the end, it is Paul who is ultimately celebrated for the Fremen’s victory. 

Chani has her most prominent moment when Paul declares his plans to marry Princess Irulan. The audience gets to see Chani finally give up on Paul, her calmer demeanor crumbling as she flees on a sandworm. However, the scene still falls a bit flat to me. There was not enough time given to the couple where I could come to understand how they work well together. With how quickly their relationship came to be, it should come as no surprise that it ended badly. 

Speaking of the ending, the final battle of “Dune: Part Two” also left much to be desired. It was anticlimactic and felt almost too easy at times. It made it hard to believe that the Harkonnens were much of a threat in the first place. Paul probably strategized well but because a movie does little to explain a character’s thinking, it leaves the audience to interpret for themselves what is happening. The results of the battle made little to no sense. Either explosives did all the work, or the Harkonnens and the empire are simply powerless against the Fremen, that ambush was simpler than a walk in the park. 

Regardless, “Dune: Part Two” is far from a cinematic flop. It does well portraying what happens when a society depends far too much on prophecy and superstition. There are also some amazing action shots with the sandworm scenes being the most memorable. If you get the chance you should go see the movie in theaters and if you already have seen it then you know not to fear, for fear is the mindkiller. 

Shaye Phillips ‘27 is a journalism and environmental studies major from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.