On Screen: “Dune: Part Two”

Dune: Part Two

Denis Villenueve’s mythic sci-fi sequel “Dune: Part Two” has already grossed $500 million globally, making it the highest-grossing film of 2024 — domestic and worldwide — surpassing the first film, released back in 2021.

Based on Frank Herbert’s anti-imperial, ecologically dystopian “Dune” saga, it revolves around Paul (Timothee Chalamet), heir to the House of Atreides, wiped out in Part One under the fascist aegis of grotesque, genocidal Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard). As with any franchise, seeing the first installment is vital to understanding the second.

In the year 10191, Paul is hiding out on the vast desert planet Arrakis, where he joins forces with the rebellious, indigenous Fremen, earning the respect of their wry religious elder Stilgar (Javier Bardem) and forming an attachment to feisty Chani (Zendaya) as they defiantly wage guerrilla warfare against House Harkonnen.

Meanwhile, his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) with her “pre-born fetus,” gulps down the Water of Life, a clear blue liquid that looks like mouthwash that elevates her to exalted status of Reverend Mother within the Fremen’s secretive matriarchal religious group Bene Gesserit.

At the center of the conflict is a rare commodity called “spice mélange,” an addictive drug known for its powerful psychotropic powers and prescience (an ability to see into the past, present and future). In smell and taste, it’s like cinnamon. (Because of their constant spice exposure, all Fremen have radiant blue eyes.)

In the “Dune” world, whoever controls spice mining and management rules the universe: “Power over spice is power over all.”

New characters include the evil Emperor (Christopher Walken), his daughter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), pugnacious Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler) and Lady Margot (Lea Seydoux), pregnant with Feyd-Rautha’s child.

Among the most memorable sequences are when Chani teaches Paul how to sandwalk, adroitly avoiding rhythmic patterns in the arid, terra-cotta colored desert that would alert sandworms, when Paul is reunited with Atreides weapon master Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), and when Paul and the Fremen mount those giant sandworms for a climactic battle … concluding with “The war has just begun.”

Written by Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts with an emphasis on action — as opposed to exposition and character development — this shallow, self-important sequel runs 2 hours, 46 minutes, dominated by Grieg Fraser’s spectacular cinematography and Hans Zimmer’s propulsive score.

The Fremen tribal language derives from Arabic, Sanskrit and Hebrew with nods to French, Greek, Romani and Slavic.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Dune: Part Two” is a visually stunning yet sterile 6 — teasing an inevitable Part Three in years to come.


Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures. Her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M.

As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O’Brien, and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism.

During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie and drama critic, syndicating her reviews and articles around the world, including Video Librarian. She has appeared on American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies. In 2017, her book 150 Timeless Movies was published by Hannacroix Creek Books. Her website is www.susangranger.com.

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