Dune: Part Two First Reviews: 'A Towering Feat of Sci-Fi Cinema,' Critics Say

Denis Villenueve's sequel has captivated critics with its epic visuals, immersive cinematography and breathtaking action, as well as the performances of Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and the ensemble cast, though the pacing and runtime may turn off some viewers.

by | February 21, 2024 | Comments


It’s been a long three years since Dune hit theaters and the wait for the sequel’s premiere is nearly over. Critics who have seen Dune: Part Two are raving that it’s even more epic than the first installment. The visual effects are jaw-dropping, the world-building is enthralling, and the directing work by Denis Villeneuve sets a new bar for cinematic storytelling. Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya‘s chemistry leads the way in this second installment, with franchise newcomers Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, and Christopher Walken leaving an impact. Some audiences may be swayed by the 166 minute running time, while others will see this release as a new standard in sci-fi entertainment. You’ll discover where your opinion lies when the movie hits theaters everywhere on March 1.

Here’s what critics are saying about Dune: Part Two.

How does it compare to the first movie?

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

A bonafide masterpiece that delivers on the promise of the first movie, while adding so much more in terms of layers and depth.
Edward Douglas, Above the Line

If you like the aesthetic of Dune so far, and you like cinematic spectacle, the movie should scratch that itch on a basic level. But when it comes to fully delivering on the promise of the first, well, once again we are left hanging.
Luke Y. Thompson, SuperHeroHype

A sci-fi epic for the ages: a sweeping tragedy of mythic proportions, a cautionary tale of the perils of zealotry. It’s a towering feat of sci-fi cinema that will put Dune: Part Two in contention for the pantheon of greatest sequels ever.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

Dune: Part Two is more than a mere sequel. It’s a continuation, culmination, and ultimately a fantastic elevation of everything you already loved about director Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film Dune: Part One.
Germain Lussier,

Dune: Part Two is as huge an improvement upon its predecessor as The Dark Knight was to Batman Begins.
Reuben Baron,

How are the visual effects and action sequences?

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Immersive, impressive, and wildly exhilarating, it’s an adrenaline rush to the head and heart, soaring in its breathtaking action sequences as much as it sings in its refined, evocative stillness.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

A masterpiece of breath-taking landscapes, incredible special effects and awe-inspiring action. Dune: Part Two is a complex and gorgeously layered production that could well be Villeneuve’s best work to date.
Linda Marric, HeyUGuys

Part Two picks up where the first instalment left off, literally and figuratively, delivering another stunning set of gorgeous visuals and exceptional action sequences.
Tim Grierson, Screen International

Denis Villeneuve’s film, like its predecessor, offers an object lesson in the visual splendor made possible by meticulously storyboarded minimalist maximalism.
Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

Villeneuve has learnt how to out-Dune Dune. This is sharper, slicker, more resonant than the first installment.
Nick Howells, London Evening Standard

Dune: Part Two’s most rousing action sequences are those that understand Dune is at its most exciting when it embraces the epic as well as the weird. Here, that takes the shape of an extended stay on the Harkonnens’ home planet of Giedi Prime, where a dark sun renders everything in stark black and white, and where architecture bulges and bends in ways that recall insects and bodily organs alike.
Belen Edwards, Mashable

How is the writing and directing?

Timothée Chalamet and Austin Butler in Dune: Part Two (2024)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Dune: Part Two is Denis Villeneuve’s Empire Strikes Back & Lawrence of Arabia. It is a sci-fi opera that is grand in scale with a hypnotizing and emotionally devastating story.
David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

With this film, Villeneuve more fully realizes his overarching intent, and Dune becomes what it was meant to be pretty much all along — the Lawrence of Arabia of science fiction.
Roger Moore, Movie Nation

But the script, by Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts, is too aimless for a large chunk of time. It wanders around the desert, occasionally picking up signs of life here and there. This is a frequently awe-inspiring movie that also can’t quite tell a compelling narrative. Part of the problem, I suspect, lies in the fact that like the first film, this isn’t a complete story — it’s only part of one.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

The story may never break free of its more dated tropes, but the Dune movies represent a remarkable collection of talent coming together to, if nothing else, remind us of the power of epic storytelling on a big screen.
Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

[Boasting] an ambitious and exhilarating story that matches its style, it’s the finest thing Villeneuve has helmed and the 2024 film to beat for outsized sci-fi showmanship.
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

Like Christopher Nolan, the director is operating on the largest possible scale, pushing the medium to accommodate his vision. Also like Nolan, he has composer Hans Zimmer’s help in making everything sound as stunning as it looks.
Peter Debruge, Variety

What about the pacing?

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Channeling the austerity of Andrei Tarkovsky at times, the director takes nearly five hours to cover what David Lynch did in just slightly more than two (though iconic in some respects, the now badly dated 1984 version barely scratched the surface of Herbert’s concerns). If Part Two feels slow in places, it’s because Villeneuve takes time to develop the connection between characters, as in a handful of scenes dedicated to Fremen warrior Chani (Zendaya) and Paul, aka Muad’Dib (or Usul), whose undeniable attraction doesn’t align with Jessica’s plans for her son.
Peter Debruge, Variety

Those who haven’t fully imbibed the Water Of Life might feel overcome by “epic fatigue” come the credits.
Ben Travis, Empire Magazine

Again: this is deep stuff, but Dune: Part Two only flirts with it for most of its length. As a result, the film begins to grow repetitive.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

How are Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya?

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

With Paul, we feel the entrancing push-pull of his continually unfolding arc. It’s electrifying – as is Chalamet’s captivating performance, depicted in sequences where Paul commands attention as the charismatic leader everyone has told him he could be, and in other scenes where he honors his father’s legacy, once a burden but now a blessing.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Zendaya gives the performance of her career here, and is a clear standout among a sea of impressive turns.
Mark Cassidy,

While Chalamet dips deeper into Paul’s darker side, Zendaya layers Chani’s stoic warrior countenance with wounded betrayal. If there was ever any doubt that Paul is not a hero, all it takes is one look at Zendaya’s troubled face during the film’s climax to realize we’re witnessing tragedy in motion.
Belen Edwards, Mashable

Chalamet has always been an expert yearner (see: Call Me by Your Name and Little Women), but his chemistry with Zendaya manages to immediately sell a romance that is essentially on fast-forward.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

What about the rest of the cast?

Austin Butler in Dune: Part Two (2024)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

There’s the introduction of the Emperor (Christopher Walken) and his daughter, Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), as well as the Baron’s sociopathic nephew Feyd (an excellent Austin Butler). Through these characters, Villeneuve builds our understanding of the political and personal ties at work, and sets up Paul’s absorbing vengeance narrative.
Journalist, Hollywood Reporter

However, the introduction of Austin Butler as Skarsgård’s son is when your tongue will dangle to the floor in gob-gibbering awe. This is truly next level über-cinema.
Nick Howells, London Evening Standard

Austin Butler is seductively unhinged, playing the Baron’s nephew Feyd-Rautha, who’s brought from Giedi Prime’s black and white world to unleash his brutality on Arrakis. His scenes with Léa Seydoux, who plays the Bene Gesserit’s Lady Margot Fenring, are deviously sexy. They ignite the screen, making us wish those sequences were longer. Though used sparingly, Florence Pugh, who plays Reverend Mother Mohiam’s (Charlotte Rampling) student Princess Irulan, turns in career best work.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Neither Walken nor Pugh has a whole lot to do here, but it’s a treat to watch Walken work — he shows up, delivers his ominous lines with a whisper, and wipes the floor with anyone he’s acting against. Show ’em how it’s done, Christopher Walken.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

Any final thoughts?

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Villeneuve’s immersive cinematic nirvana is a sci-fi masterpiece.
David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

Dune: Part Two leaves a promising franchise with more questions than answers as to whether this is the type of blockbuster we want made going forward: rocky attention to detail with the feeling of being rushed matched with an exhausted runtime.
Ryan McQuade, AwardsWatch

Dune: Part 2 is the perfect filmmaking tapestry where every fiber is meticulously woven to create the perfect film. It’s an epic masterful cinematic experience.
Rosa Parra, The Latino Slant

Villeneuve’s bold, brash presentation can sometimes feel bereft of personality, but it’s not short on vision, which it has in spades.
Clint Worthington, The Spool

2024’s first Best Picture contender.
Kyle Pinion, Screen Rex

Made for repeat viewings, its bold, daring, and epic scale must be experienced on the largest screen possible.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

It’s a towering feat of sci-fi cinema that will put Dune: Part Two in contention for the pantheon of greatest sequels ever.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

92% Dune: Part Two (2024) opens in theaters on March 1, 2024. 

Thumbnail image by Warner Bros.
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