★★★★½

Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) returns to Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, directing and writing Part Two with Jon Spaihts (Prometheus). If fans of the novels or science fiction were pleased with the first entry, they will be ecstatic with this second of three parts.

Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), are now fully entrenched with the Fremen, although not all accept them. Some believe Paul to be the Kwasatz Haderach, a messiah that will give them complete control of their planet. Others recognize his fighting and leadership abilities, but know these prophecies are a belief instilled by the Bene Gesserit. Either way, Paul’s goal is the same: vengeance on House Harkonnen for the genocide of his house. But building an army to exact that vengeance while also meeting every requirement for his messianic position sets him against not only the Harkonnens but all the great houses - and the Bene Gesserit - who consider a male with his abilities to be an abomination.

Villeneuve and Spaihts have managed to take what could have been a plodding tale and translate it in such a way that it is concise without losing any of the essential details. This does cost a small amount of character development, particularly among the Harkonnens, but not enough to affect the story significantly. The tale is captivating, without any dull moments. Part of the credit for this goes to the actors, who embody their characters regardless of how much screen time they have. Sometimes, this works against Chalamet as the lead, because his understated performance gets overshadowed. This is particularly evident in his scene with Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha.

Two of the hallmarks of this epic novel are the immense settings and amazing societal backgrounds that Herbert created. The technical crew does an exceptional job bringing both of these to life. The costumes and religious iconography are a sight to behold, as are the stunning spaceships and landscapes. The ships and war machines in action are majestic. These designs and many of the buildings seem inspired by older concepts while putting a modern take on them thanks to advancements in CGI. The soundtrack weaves in and out of the movie with swells and ebbs that keep the viewer fully immersed in the story.

Dune: Part Two, like the first part, is arguably the screen version of the 1966 Hugo Award-winning novel that fans have been waiting for. Often believed to be beyond adaptation due to the sheer magnitude of the story, the writers, actors, and technical crew mesh almost perfectly to bring the tale out of the “unfilmable” wasteland.