When it was announced back in 2020 that director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) was tackling the project of bringing the novels of Frank Herbert’s Dune odyssey to the big screen science fiction fans right across the world waited with baited breath.

Herbert’s work is considered a masterpiece within the sci-fi realm and previous attempts to adapt it for the screen had, in the eyes of hardcore fans, failed. But then, after some mild Covid interruptions, in 2021 Villeneuve’s first Dune film landed in cinemas and the verdict was that not only had Villeneuve down the unthinkable and made a watchable Dune movie he too had now delivered something that also deserved the masterpiece tag.

Not surprisingly the studio behind the film quickly signed contracts to see Villeneuve and his cast continue the odyssey with Dune: Part Two, but then came another nagging feeling for fans – what if Villeneuve could not capture the brilliance of the first film for Part Two. Well if that has been your worry than you can be re-assured because Dune: Part Two is sensational and lifts this sci-fi franchise into the rare air normally reserved for the original Star Wars trilogy.

Dune: Part Two begins with Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet – Wonka) trying to fit into life with the Fremen people with mixed results. On one hand the warrior, Stilgar (Javier Bardem – Skyfall), believes that Paul is the foretold Messiah although Chani (Zendaya – Spider-Man: Far From Home) and her friends believe that is just an old wive’s tale. Her friends don’t even believe that Paul should be allowed to stay with them.

However the spiritually gifted Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson – The Greatest Showman) is pushing the idea with the religiously minded Fremen that Paul is the Messiah while Chani is battling her romantic feelings for Paul.

Meanwhile, the Emperor (Christopher Walken – Catch Me If You Can), is trying to hide the fact from the rest of the universe that he is responsible for the genocide of the Atreides family, while Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard – Good Will Hunting) is frustrated that Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista – Guardians of The Galaxy) is making no headway in getting rid of the Fremen people so has turned to Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler – Elvis) to take on the deadly mission.

As you can probably tell from that plot description the story here is pretty in-depth but somehow Villenvue and fellow screenwriter Jon Spaihts (Prommetheus) manage to bring it to the screen so that it is completely understandable and surprisingly easy to follow. The way the story plays out on the script makes it feel like a cross between Game of Thrones and Star Wars and that mix seems to work amazingly well.

What sets the Dune franchise aside from other films in its genre though is that Villenvue and his cinematographer, Greig Fraser (The Batman), are willing to take some pretty big risks with the way the film is presented. In the first film we saw their decision to portray the Fremen’s planet in a near washed-out yellow haze for most shots and this time around they take that even further making the scenes set on Feyd-Rautha’s planet almost black and white. While it may not seem like much it is one of the reasons why when you watch the film the audience feels like they have transported to these planets and they’re part of the action. There are very few films that are such an immersive experience for their audience as these two Dune films are.

When you add that to the fact that Villenvue is a talented enough filmmaker to be able to get every ounce of suspense out of a scene whether it features an epic battle or two characters having an important emotionally filled discussion and you start to realise what a talented storyteller he really is.

More of that genius is also on show when it is revealed that he is not frightened to time jump with the script – characters will be talking about doing an event and then the film will jump to after the event and somehow he manages to do it in such a way that the audience don’t feel like they have been ripped off by not seeing it play out on the screen.

The other key to Dune: Part Two working so well is the perfect casting that this franchise has. Timothee Chalamet was born to play Paul Atreides and his range of acting easily allows him to pull off the films more dramatic dialogue scenes just as well as his action sequences. At one point he yells at Jessica to make a point and such is the power of his performance and voice it made every person in the cinema jump.

He is also surrounded by actors and actresses who pull off brilliant portrayals of Herbert’s characters. Javier Bardem and Zendaya are brilliant this time around while Austin Butler takes his acting to a whole new level in his unrecognisable performance as this film’s major villain.

Then there are the likes of Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) and Charlotte Rampling (Melancholia) who may have smaller roles this time around but still bring their A-Game to the screen every time they appear.

Dune: Part Two not only continues the brilliance of the first film but is a film that certainly sets a new bar for just how good sci-fi films should be. With stunning visuals, an engaging story and a cast at their very best this is a film that even the most critical film goers will want to watch over and over. Dune: Part Two is truly a masterful piece of work.

5/5 Stars