A Colossal Blockbuster That Justifies Its Scale

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two is a triumphant—and tragic—look at the cost of power.


Paul Atreides: From Potential to Ruler

Paul Atreides, the central figure of the Dune series, is a very special boy. This is something the audience is told over and over, both in Frank Herbert’s first, totemic sci-fi novel and the Denis Villeneuve film adaptations that bifurcate its intricate narrative into two sand-swept epics.

The first installment of Dune was all about Paul’s potential, surrounding him with vague prophecies of his future as an almighty conqueror while making him a refugee on the hostile planet Arrakis. Dune: Part Two sees that potential realized, transforming Paul from a stranger in a strange land into its messianic ruler.

This journey is appropriately triumphant—and, just as important, tragic and terrifying.

Villeneuve's Understanding of Herbert's Books

That’s what Villeneuve has consistently understood about Herbert’s books, which prior adaptations of Dune struggled to surface. Dune does follow a typical hero’s quest, with Paul surviving against all odds to become a great warrior and exact revenge for the death of his father. But through it all, Paul is conscious of the loss of humanity that comes with such victories, and the grievous human calculations demanded by the politics of war and resistance.

Villeneuve’s film is a grand success, working on an even broader canvas than the first Dune—but it’s tinged with deep mournfulness, a quality that sets it apart from its blockbuster contemporaries.

A Distinctive Blockbuster with Emotional Depth

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two stands out as a colossal blockbuster that justifies its scale. It successfully portrays the journey of its central character, Paul Atreides, from a potential savior to a ruler of a strange land. The film triumphs in capturing the triumphant moments, but it also delves into the tragic and terrifying aspects of Paul's transformation.

Unlike previous adaptations of Dune, Villeneuve understands the deeper themes of Herbert’s books. While following the hero’s quest, the film acknowledges the sacrifices and loss of humanity that come with power. It highlights the human calculations entangled in war and resistance.

What sets this film apart from other blockbusters is its emotional depth. It goes beyond the surface-level action and spectacle, exploring the mournful aspects of Paul's journey. Villeneuve's vision broadens the canvas of the Dune universe, creating a grand cinematic experience.