“Dune: Part Two” blasted into movie theaters on March 1, 2024 and continues the story of the first “Dune” film, which was released in 2021. The first “Dune” can be succinctly summarized as the fall of House Atreides, while “Dune: Part Two” is the rise of Paul Atreides.

Like the first film in the series, “Dune: Part Two” was directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen and Zendaya as Chani. The cast includes many other famous actors, including Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, Stellan Skarsgård and Javier Bardem. Hans Zimmer also returned to compose the score of the film.

As a whole, “Dune: Part Two” is an excellent film with stunning visuals that demand to be seen in a movie theater. Starting with the visuals, the production design, visual effects and cinematography of the film all work together in perfect harmony to create a beautiful piece of cinema that can only be classified as art. “Dune: Part Two” is at its best when it scales up the plot, with excellent scenes that depict armies and crowds of innumerable size in a realistic way.

Similarly, the performances in “Dune: Part Two” are also phenomenal across the board. If Chalamet was good in “Dune,” then he is great in “Dune: Part Two.” He brings a certain charisma and humbleness to the character that makes it easy for the audience to understand why Chani falls in love with him, but he also portrays the darker side of Atreides as he has to come to terms with his destiny. Zendaya gives a career-best performance as the warrior Chani, demonstrating the strength and stubbornness of her character.

Beyond Chalamet and Zendaya, the rest of the cast are also at the top of their game. Butler’s turn as Harkonnen is genuinely terrifying because of his physical mannerisms and fitting voice. Ferguson, who plays Lady Jessica, the mother of Atreides, brings an air of nobility to the role that perfectly fits her character. Bardem is also great as Stilgar, a mentor and champion of Atreides who brings some humor to the film.

Another strength of “Dune: Part Two” is the score, composed by Zimmer. There is an audio motif that plays several times in the film, each emphasizing the moment as crucial for the arc of Atreides as he slowly accepts his fate. By not overusing the motif, Zimmer and Villeneuve allow for the moments where it used to feel special and key the audience to the importance of the scene.

The biggest weakness of “Dune: Part Two” is the story, as it feels derivative at points and also drags in the middle. The book “Dune,” which the two films are based on, was released in 1965, years before “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” came to be. While the story of “Dune” may have been inventive when it was first released, now audiences are quite familiar with coming-of-age stories about the prophetic “chosen one” who will take down an evil empire. It is hard not to watch “Dune: Part Two” and think of “Star Wars,” taking the viewer out of the film.

Likewise, the plot of “Dune: Part Two” drags during the middle part of the film. The beginning of the film is excellent, as Atreides forms alliances with the Fremen on Arrakis and learns the ways, paralleling Harkonnen’s rise to power. The end of the film also excels, as the Houses Atreides and Harknonnen meet in the perfect climax. However, the middle of the film drags a little too much as the viewers patiently wait for the final pieces of the plot to come together.

Altogether, “Dune: Part Two” is a stunning film that is sure to stay with viewers long after seeing it because of the breathtaking visuals and powerful performances. Unfortunately, the plot of the film holds it back slightly, as the story feels repetitive of other film franchises. Despite this, “Dune: Part Two” is a film that must be seen in a movie theater to be fully appreciated, to the credit of the filmmakers.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars