HOLLYWOOD—I will just say it; I hated the first “Dune” movie. I thought it a visual masterpiece of cinema, but the narrative was so jumbled it was nearly impossible to follow and understand what was unfolding. How can I best say this? If you blinked, you missed something crucial, and the first film REALLY required multiple viewings to understand what was unfolding on the screen. I never read the books and I didn’t know much about the allure of this franchise until I witnessed the first movie.

I think if you have to do any research on a movie before you watch the movie that is a problem. The story should compel you enough and deliver enough breadcrumbs where as a viewer you can pick up what is taking place and how to navigate the story from there. This second installment amps up the narrative in a way that allows the viewer to follow and become invested. The first movie failed to deliver any sort of excitement that made me want to continue watching without feeling obligated it was an invested interest.

Of course this second entry follows Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), who is captivating on the screen. The actor is a star and he finds a way to shine on the screen as he battles to overthrow the vicious nature of the House of Harkonnen. In his battle, Paul is joined on his mission by Chani (Zendaya), a rebellious Fremen warrior who was a slight thorn in Paul’s story in the first movie, but more of an ally this time around. The romance spark is there, but I really wanted to see a bit more chemistry between the two characters that I’m certain we will see in the next installment as it was slightly explored here.

“Dune: Part Two” has plenty of star power with Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Christopher Walken, Javier Bardem, Charlotte Rampling and Stellan Skarsgard. However, it is “Elvis” star Austin Butler that steals the show as the wicked Fedy-Rautha Harkonnen. Butler was a villain I rooted for because his presence was violent; he had a no qualms in the world about his fate. If he lived he lived, if he died he died and that makes the antagonist a formidable foe for our protagonist and as a spectator I enjoyed that element quite well.

The big buildup of the battle between Paul and Feyd was well worth it and while not the longest fight sequence it is nuanced and beautifully shot in a way that brings the viewer into the movie even more. Director Denis Villeneuve does exceptional work crafting such a grand film. I mean some of the visuals from the characters and how things unfold on Arrakis is simply magnificent, and makes you think what vision the director had in his mind. You feel like you’re on the desert with these characters, and those images of the sandworms when they attack and are utilized by our protagonists makes you believe to a degree these creatures could possibly be real.

Do I think the movie at over two hours and 45 minutes is a bit long? Yes, about 15-20 minutes could be chopped off to increase the pacing of the narrative. There are slight dull moments in the sequel, but nothing compared to what felt almost ongoing in its predecessor. The sequel really progresses the development of many of these characters where we got a slice of their lives in the first flick, but this second installment truly allows viewers to get into the psyche of these characters and discover some of their motives and drives for doing what it is they do.

Major improvement from the first flick that a lot of people (including me) weren’t big fans of, so the franchise can only reach for the stars for the third installment which is certain in our near future after its box-office success.