Denis Villeneuve's Dune 2 Was Praised By One Of The Best Directors Of All Time

"Dune: Part Two" has officially become a commercial success, passing huge box office milestones and creeping towards the $600 million mark worldwide. Director Denis Villeneuve has thus proven wrong those who said Frank Herbert's celebrated "Dune" novel was "unfilmable," especially when you consider the critical response in conjunction with those box office numbers. "Dune: Part Two" might be a bleak blockbuster, but it's so far managed a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a similarly impressive 95% audience score.

It's safe to say, then, that Villeneuve's epic sci-fi sequel is not only a critical and commercial success but perhaps even a box office savior. Back in February, prior to the film's March debut, /News's Ryan Scott noted that movie ticket sales were down 15% compared to the same point in 2023, and there's not a movie fan out there who isn't aware of the industry's post-pandemic struggles. As such, "Dune: Part Two" represents a real cinematic triumph, not dissimilar to Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer," which somehow managed to make almost a billion dollars with three hours of scientists and politicians whisper-shouting at each other like Michael Keaton during the "quiet fight" in "The Other Guys."

All in all then, a pretty good run for "Dune: Part Two" so far, especially when you also consider it's yet another box office success for Warner Bros. and Timothée Chalamet, who only just had another commercial and critical hit with "Wonka." With that in mind, you might wonder how things could get any better for Villeneuve and co. Well, how about effusive praise from a directing legend?

Steven Spielberg loves Dune: Part Two

There's been a lot of director-supporting-director stuff going on lately, and it's great to see. When Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" returned to theaters earlier this year, it did so with "Dune: Part Two" footage tacked on, prompting Villeneuve to call Nolan a "master," and stating his belief that he isn't anywhere near that level. Nolan himself recently revealed that he had the pleasure (or nerve-shredding experience if you think about it) of watching Steven Spielberg watch "Oppenheimer" for the first time. Witnessing one of the greatest directors to ever do it take in your own creation must have been an exhilarating and terrifying experience. Luckily, according to Nolan, Spielberg had "very kind things" to say about the three-hour epic.

Now, the man responsible for multiple all-time classics has turned his attention to Nolan's buddy Villeneuve, and was similarly supportive of the French-Canadian director's latest effort. Interviewing Villeneuve for the latest episode of the DGA's "Director's Cut" podcast (via Variety), Spielberg revealed that he loved "Dune: Part Two." In fact, the director evidently considers it "one of the most brilliant science-fiction films [he's] ever seen." Continuing to praise the "Arrival" director, Spielberg singled out the way in which Villeneuve filmed the desert "to resemble an ocean, a sea," adding:

"The sandworms were like sea serpents. And that scene surfing the sandworms is one of the greatest things I have ever seen. Ever! But you made the desert look like a liquid."

Considering Villeneuve spent a whole year perfecting the sandworm design, he no doubt appreciated Spielberg's comments.

Spielberg went beyond praising Dune: Part Two

Steven Spielberg opened his DGA interview by likening Denis Villeneuve to some of the greatest directors in Hollywood history, saying:

"It's an honor for me to sit here and talk to you [...] Let me start by saying there are filmmakers who are the builders of worlds. It's not a long list and we know who a lot of them are. Starting with [Georges] Méliès and of course Disney and Kubrick, George Lucas. Ray Harryhausen I include in that list. Fellini built his own worlds. Tim Burton. Obviously Wes Anderson, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Guillermo del Toro. 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."

These comments echo Christopher Nolan's from a 2012 Director's Guild interview, in which the director, whose "Oppenheimer" dominated the 2024 Oscars, highlighted the way in which Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" established a "feeling that there was this whole world outside the frame of the scene." Nolan was clearly affected by Scott's 1982 sci-fi masterpiece, adding that he has since tried to emulate that approach to world-building and believes that, "every film should have its own world, a logic and feel to it that expands beyond the exact image that the audience is seeing."

Clearly, this is something that Spielberg is also acutely aware of, and his oeuvre is a testament to that. For Villeneuve, then, having his film called "one of the most brilliant science-fiction films" by Spielberg was no doubt a thrill. But the real honor is surely being identified as the next in a long and distinguished line of directors capable of creating cinematic worlds that feel like they could exist somewhere.