Dune: Part Two – A Universe Through Chani’s Eyes

Dune: Part Two – A Universe Through Chani’s Eyes

Review: Dune Part Two

Timothée Chalamet owned the first Dune movie, playing Paul Atreides, a reluctant heir to a noble house destined for greatness. As Dune: Part Two lands in cinemas this week in all its sandblasted glory, it’s clear the sequel belongs to Zendaya. As Chani, the Fremen warrior, she brings a grounded perspective and emotional depth the first film lacked.

Denis Villeneuve, a master of science fiction, has crafted otherworldly landscapes with films such as Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival. While spectacle is Villeneuve’s forte, his true gift lies in making these worlds feel inhabited.

The script avoids clunky exposition. Dune Part Two begins as the first film concluded with Paul and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), navigating an alliance with the Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, while seeking revenge against those who destroyed their family. We also delve deeper the Harkonnens’ cruel intentions, and meet Feyd-Rautha, the Baron’s sadistic nephew (played by a scene-stealing Austin Butler).

The emperor, played by Christopher Walken, is revealed to be behind the Atreides’ downfall, much to his daughter Irulan’s dismay. Jessica, empowered by a dangerous Fremen ritual, becomes a true believer in their prophecies and carries a strangely awakening child in utero.

Dune Part Two leans into the fundamental religious factions within the Fremen and a coming prophesy of a messiah. The Fremen are divided about the need for a messiah and Chani sits within this struggle as part of her growing relationship Paul Atreides.

Instead of sugarcoating the source material, Dune: Part Two shifts its focus to Chani. In the first film, she was a mere vision haunting Paul’s thoughts. Here, she becomes the film’s soul. She questions the messiah narrative, viewing it as a tool to control her people. Despite their growing relationship she is wary of Paul. Her Fremen leader, Stilgar (played by Javier Bardem), however, firmly believes Paul is their prophesied saviour.

Paul’s journey with the Fremen mirrors stories like Avatar and Dances With Wolves, but with a calculating twist. While he may genuinely love Chani and support their cause, he also contemplates using them for his own predetermined destiny.

Zendaya’s fierce and passionate performance becomes a counterpoint to the film’s grand political machinations and the beating heart of the film. Despite recognising Paul’s outsider status and potential ulterior motives, she finds herself drawn to him. “Your blood comes from dukes and great houses,” she observes, “Here, everyone is equal.” His response, “I’d very much like to be equal to you,” perfectly captures the film’s core theme: emotions can be universal, even in a world far beyond our own.

It’s no wonder Dune Part Two has been called Villeneuve’s Empire Strikes Back, with its complex narrative and relationships that drive the complex multi-layered story.

Dune: Part Two doesn’t shy away from intense conflict and the immersive action deserves to be seen on the biggest screens possible. In the final act, Zendaya delivers a powerful performance, masterfully portraying the emotions of wariness, hope, and betrayal, reminding us that human feelings transcend even the most fantastical settings.

Dune Part Two is in cinemas now.


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