'Dune: Part Two' is equal parts brutal and breathtaking — and it's my best film of the year so far

"Dune: Part Two" review
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

I'm sure by now you've heard the hype for "Dune: Part Two." The movie has been shown to critics and fans in some early screenings and the early reviews have been impressive.

After being lucky enough to see it at one such screening last night, I can tell you that it's all, 100%, completely justified. This movie is a masterpiece.

That's not to say it's flawless — after all, essentially every film has some shortcoming, and this movie has a few. But those shortcomings are outweighed by the sheer majesty of the technical aspects of this film. The sound design is incredible, as is the cinematography and costume design. I'm not typically someone who says you have to see a movie in IMAX but I completely agree with my colleague Stephen Lambrechts. You have to see this movie in IMAX.

Those are my spoiler-free takes. But having seen the movie, I'm going to get into the full review. It has some spoilers sprinkled in it, but there are fewer spoilers than molecules of spice that cover the sands of Arrakis, I promise. I get that you have almost certainly not seen the movie yet, so I have done everything I can to not include any major plot spoilers. I feel confident you can read this "Dune: Part Two" review and not have the movie ruined for you.

An image indicating spoilers are ahead.

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Spoilers for "Dune: Part Two" beyond this point

The technical aspects of 'Dune: Part Two' are unparalleled

"Dune: Part Two" review

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

I'm not sure "Dune: Part Two" will bring home every Oscar imaginable next year. There are a few big ones that it may not even get nominated for (more on that later), but anything on a technical level it will likely get nominated for and probably win. 

For reference, "Dune" took home wins for Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects in addition to nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. This sequel will almost certainly be nominated for all of those same categories, likely adding in a Best Director nomination, at the least.

But even among all the technical achievements of this film, the sound is absolutely incredible and you notice it from the beginning of the film. There's a battle scene very early on in the movie and there's a moment where a lone shot hits a soldier. Between the percussive hit of the shot and the silence that precedes it, it feels like you're the one getting hit at that moment.

It's primarily in the battle scenes, which are epic that this sound design shines. There is a massive battle before the climactic scene of the movie and the sound, visual effects and cinematography literally take your breath away. But it's not the only place where it steals the scene. Whenever sandworms are involved or a member of the Bene Gesserit uses the Voice, the sound design becomes the star of the movie.

'Dune: Part Two' is brutal, but not dark 

The world of "Dune" has always been brutal and unforgiving. This is established in the first film, whether it's the brutal infighting between the great houses or the oppressive conditions of the desert planet of Arrakis, this isn't a kind, forgiving universe we live in.

And "Dune: Part Two," if anything, leans even more into that brutality. The desert planet now is even more dangerous. The Harkonnens are even more evil, ruthless and bloodthirsty. And Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), who is relatively innocent for the majority of the first movie, completely loses his humanity before the end of this movie.

"Dune: Part Two" review

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Despite all this though, there are genuine moments of lightheartedness and levity throughout the movie, and Villeneuve isn't even particularly sparing with them. Javier Bardem as the Fremen leader Stilgar, is genuinely comic relief at multiple points in this movie, though in an unintentional way that lands well (he garnered laughs on more than one occasion in my screening). There are also warm and tender moments between Paul and Chani (Zendaya) to break up what is otherwise a brutal epic. Despite his quest for revenge, Paul can be quite charming.

The movie draws an easy comparison to another science fiction epic in this regard. The original "Star Wars" movie and the original trilogy it spawned have this same balance of charm and lightheartedness set against the backdrop of a brutal war for the fate of the galaxy. And like in those original "Star Wars" movies, this choice lands in "Dune: Part Two" as well.

'Dune: Part Two' may be the best film of this century

"Dune: Part Two" review

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

When we talk about this movie, it's not going to be compared to "Avengers: Endgame" or any Marvel movie. In this century, its peers are likely only the Peter Jackson "Lord of the Rings" movies and technical masterpieces like "Oppenheimer." It's an incredible epic on a massive scale with unparalleled technical prowess on display. 

If it's not the best movie of the 21st century, it's certainly in the conversation.

Frankly, the movie I find myself comparing it to the most is "Lawrence of Arabia," which is regarded by most to be one of the greatest movies ever made.

If I have to nitpick though, there's one thing that some of these movies I just mentioned have that "Dune: Part Two" lacks. The acting performances of this sequel are no more likely to garner an acting nomination than the first movie, which was notably absent from the 94th Academy Awards acting categories.

That's not to say that the performances are bad. In fact, I'd argue that everyone is giving the performance they've been directed to give. But there's no Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence in this movie, nor is there an incredible supporting performance like Robert Downey Jr.'s in "Oppenheimer," though Austin Butler comes close and might be the movie's best shot at an acting award. It's very much an ensemble cast, with a host of incredible actors and actresses, some of whom are in bit parts. Even Butler, who is awesome in this movie, feels underutilized.

But again, this is a nitpick, and it's a shortcoming that gets washed away by the technical brilliance of this film. If it's not the best movie of the 21st century, it's certainly in the conversation.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

  • kep55
    admin said:
    I saw "Dune: Part Two" it's the best film of the year — if not the century. Here

    Dune: Part Two' is equal parts brutal and breathtaking — the best film of the year : Read more
    Stilsuits are incorrect.