Dune 2 kicks butt (literally)

I knew what I was getting into when I sat down for a press screening of Dune Part 2: A towering sci-fi epic best viewed on an enormous theater screen, just like . What I didn’t realize was that it would also give me a serious back massage — it really does kick butt. That was my experience at an Atlanta-area AMC, where the film whipped the Dolby Cinema seats into such a frenzy that, for one thrilling sequence, I felt like I was actually riding a sandworm plowing through the spice-filled desert of Arrakis.

Now, I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same ride at a normal theater (unless the subwoofer is cranked up obscenely high). What makes AMC’s Dolby Cinema locations unique is that they feature rumbling transducers in every recliner seat, in addition to powerful dual-laser Dolby Vision projectors and enveloping Atmos sound. I’ve seen tons of films in AMC Dolby Cinemas since those screens began rolling out in 2017, but Dune Part 2 is the first time the haptic seats actually felt like they enhanced my moviegoing experience. When I rushed out to the bathroom in the middle of the film, I noticed that my body was still vibrating, the way you sort of feel after a deep massage by expert fingers.

Technically, you’re still better off watching Dune Part 2 in IMAX theaters — it was actually filmed for that enormous format, and true IMAX theaters also deliver enough walloping low-end sound to shake your core without the need for rumbling seats. But it’s hard to find full-sized IMAX screens, and for most US viewers it’ll likely be easier to find a nearby AMC Dolby Cinema.

Let’s be clear: I’m , like the moving seats and various weather effects in 4DX cinemas. So I’m genuinely surprised how much I appreciated a heavy dose of recliner rumbling in Dune Part 2. Perhaps it’s because the film is also fanbtastic — not that I expected any less from Villeneuve, a director who turned the first Dune into a cinematic feast and was also miraculously able to deliver .

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Photo by NIKO TAVERNISE for Warner Bros.

Dune Part 2 picks up where the first film abruptly ended, with Paul Atreides and his mother making their way through the desert with its native inhabitants, the Fremen. It’s immediately clear that this isn’t actually a sequel to the first film, it’s genuinely a second half, with all of the action and more spectacle that many felt were lacking before.

Personally, though, I just loved being back in Villeneuve’s vision of Frank Herbert’s universe. As much as I appreciate the bombastic costumes and environments from David Lynch’s Dune adaptation, I find this iteration far more immersive: Every room seems genuinely lived in, every custom feels like an organic outgrowth of a society that’s existed for thousands of years. It’s the sort of attention to detail we don’t often see in films and TV today, when it’s easier to shoot faux desert scenes on ILM’s StageCraft set (aka “The Volume,” the technology that was ).

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Warner Bros.

Even if you don’t end up seeing Dune Part 2 in a Dolby Cinema (I swear, this isn’t an ad), it’s a film worth seeing on the big screen. Its vast scale and ambition can’t be contained on a TV, and its elaborate soundscape (including Hans Zimmer going extra hard for the score) deserves more than tinny flatscreen speakers or a mere soundbar.

Dune has always seemed like an unadaptable work, something so massive that it could only truly exist in Frank Herbert’s shroom-filled dreams. But once again, Villeneuve and his creative team have seemingly done the impossible: They’ve turned the fantasy of Dune into a cinematic reality. You owe it to yourself to pay tribute.

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