For somebody who’s followed Timothee Chalamet since his breakout performance opposite Steve Carrell in Beautiful Boy, it’s always felt like something was missing in his skillet. It wasn’t exactly range, as strong performances in the first Dune, Wonka, French Dispatch, and A Rainy Day in New York showed that clearly Chalamet had it. Perhaps it’s the artificial feel surrounding his Hollywood ascent, or maybe the fact that he surrounds his moments of explosiveness with more wooden deliveries in the more subtle moments of a movie. For a brief period in Dune Part II, it feels as though we’re in for another Chalamet performance that’s on the cusp of something magnificent. Then, and spoilers ahead…

    Chalamet’s character Paul drinks from the Water of Life. Paul becomes poised, emphatically believing in his own destiny in a commanding way to be the leading man of Fremen. As life imitates art, Chalamet transforms with Paul right in front of the eyes of audiences globally. Chalamet’s presence on screen was taken to another level in the second half of Dune II, leaving audiences gripping with every word, fascinated by every twist, and excited by the action sequences. Mel Gibson had Max Rockatansky at the tail end of the ’70s, Harrison Ford had Indiana Jones in the ’80s, Tom Cruise still has Ethan Hunt. Chalamet’s Paul Altriedes has the ability to become this era’s generation-definining adventure-action hero.

    Beyond the dynamic performance for Chalamet, the Dune Part II supporting cast is full of standouts. Much like in last years big theater experience of Oppenheimer, Florence Pugh transcends the few minutes she’s on screen. I’m excited to see her venture back into leading roles now that she’s much-improved from her Fighting With My Family and Malevolent era. Josh Brolin’s continued career resurgence following his time as Thanos in the MCU progressed with his best performance since No Country For Old Men, something one could also argue for Javier Bardem. In terms of physicality, Dave Bautista brings ample experience, drawing strongly from his previous career. Austin Butler’s unorthodox and uneasy movements and Rebecca Ferguson’s erratic variety created the final element the core group of actors needed.

    The original film wasn’t without its inherently flaws, yet Denis Villenueve made it exceedingly difficult to nitpick its sequel. The pacing is excellent in spite of its runtime, each detail matters within the narrative, and there’s a clear progression heading into the third picture while still giving the film an adequate and satisfying conclusion. Hans Zimmer, the most celebrated composer in Hollywood, gave another scintillating score that created the perfect mood for Dune II’s desolate set design. With its incredible sound design, picture, and editing, the production was incredibly well-done. I don’t necessarily agree with Villenueve’s philosophy on filmmaking, but between this and a picture as strong as Bladerunner 2049, there’s no arguement that Villenueve’s far-from-traditional perspective makes for a tremendous blockbuster.

    The only thing I disagreed with was the instant-gratification in a fight between Atriedes and Feyd-Rautha. I feel as though there was a strong installment that could have been built around the story. However, the idea of the next film being built around Zendaya, presenting Atriedes as the primary antagonist does have me salivating at the bit. Regardless, Dune II is worth the price of admission and sets up a strong trilogy.

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