Steven Spielberg Gives Dune 2 The Highest Possible Praise

By Jason Collins | Published

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Filmmaking legend known for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Steven Spielberg—one of the greatest cinematographers of our time—had nothing but strong praise of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune 2, especially over the impressive desert scenes.

Steven Spielberg Praised The Epic Scale

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“This is truly a visual epic, and it’s also filled with deeply, deeply drawn characters,” Steven Spielberg said during his and Denis Villeneuve’s appearance on DGA’s Director’s Cut podcast. “… you have made one of the most brilliant science fiction films I have ever seen,” Spielberg told Villeneuve. Spielberg also praised the sand worm-surfing scene and the visuals in which the desert sand was made to look liquid, representing the importance of sacred water that the characters have been yearning for.

Speilberg Had Praise For Villeneuve

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Besides praising Dune 2, Steven Spielberg also praised Villeneuve himself. Spielberg opened up by mentioning some of the greatest moviemakers in the history of cinema, including Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Federico Fellini, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, and Guillermo del Toro. He then told Villeneuve, “The list goes on but it’s not that long of a list, and I deeply, fervently believe that you are one of its newest members.” Coming from one of the greatest moviemakers of all time, that had to feel good.

Villeneuve’s Shooting Process

Denis Villeneuve told Steven Spielberg that he shot Dune 2 scenes during specific times of the day. For example, the scene where Paul and Chani—portrayed by Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya, respectively—kiss, was shot over the course of four days. The filming was conducted in the same hour each day to maintain continuity. He also added that even the sand dunes were also “cast” for their orientation to each other within the frame, which Villeneuve called the strangest casting he had ever done.

The Epic Sandworm Ride

For example, the praised sandworm surfing scene took 44 days to shoot; the crew built a massive worm into a 90ft × 24ft (L×W) set piece, and the task was so nerve-wracking that many believed that the scene wouldn’t fit the movie the way it’s supposed to. But Villeneuve’s vision, backed by massive behind-the-screen talent, made that Dune 2 scene so epic that it received praise from Spielberg, who himself has more than a few acclaimed classics under his belt.  

Dune 2 Surpassed All Expectations

Dune 2 largely received rave reviews from the critics and was praised for its visual effects—even by Steven Spielberg—and cast performances. Some reviewers even considered it one of the best science fiction movies of all time. It opened on March 1 and managed to make $579.5 million worldwide against a $190 million budget. These aren’t the final numbers since the movie is still being screened worldwide, but they do position Dune 2 as one of the highest-grossing movies of 2024.

Given the massive success of Dune 2, there has been word regarding the third movie, a possible adaptation of the Dune Messiah novel, but no official announcements have been made. Those interested in listening to the whole conversation can do so on DAG’s Director’s Cut podcast.