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Can your kids watch the new Dune movies?


Rebecca on March 7, 2024

Rebecca considers the new Dune films from a parent point-of-view and whether her son is old enough to watch the latest release Dune: Part Two. This blog aims to limit spoilers but does go into some detail about tough stuff in the film.

Dune (Part One) and Dune: Part Two are cinematic experience films that have generated global acclaim. The marketing for them has been unmissable. Having recently rewatched Dune (Part One), I felt ready for an emotional hero journey with love and loss, action and battle scenes, and sand. So much sand.

I came away from that Part One rewatch considering how Master Nine-year-old might interpret the story and the action, which parts might scare him but felt that ultimately it would be a rewarding cinema experience for him, like seeing Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time.

When I went to see Dune: Part Two in opening week I knew it would be great escapism but was once again eager to see whether I’d be able to share the cinema experience with my young son.

Both Dune (Part One) and Dune: Part Two are rated M with a content warning for violence but as it turns out, one has much stronger content than the other. M-rated films can legally be shown to anyone but are more suitable for a mature audience – 16 years and over is the recommended age. We recommend checking the content warnings as everyone has a different line on what they like and dislike.


The films are based on the books by Frank Herbert and there’s a lot of story to be told. Part Two levels up the storyline, and brings further into focus the cruelty of humans and the violence of war. And there are some haunting images in the film that will stick with you. Think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for impact, and memorable scary stuff.

Within the opening scene of Part Two we see a pile of dead bodies (clothed and not identifiable but clearly victims of war) being burned by soldiers holding flame throwers. In a battle sequence we see soldiers’ bodies dropping from a height and hitting the ground with deadly thuds. Minions of particularly cruel Harkonnen family members are swiftly killed via throat slashing or heads smashed against surfaces (we don’t see blood but we see the violence).

People are manipulated into acts, either through mind control or through fear of death, that they have previously refused to do. They are made to do things that hurt them or the people around them. Some of the characters take true pleasure in witnessing the pain and suffering of others. Some characters feel emboldened to take lives for the greater good, motivated by gaining power and “spice”.

A character’s psychopathic traits are discussed and his drive for pain and desire is shown on more than one occasion. The fear of what cruel acts he might do to enemies or those close to him makes him a particularly scary figure on screen. For younger viewers this character could be upsetting: it’s implied that he eats his victims, or gives his victims to his friends (“pets”) to take pleasure in eating. We don’t see the cannibalism on screen.

There are many fight sequences, ranging from close-up hand-to-hand combat to an epic battlefield scene which includes Arrakis’ infamous giant worms being used to consume enemies.

It is the hand-to-hand combat which is the strongest violence on screen. Sharp knives are used to fight, with characters being stabbed, and we see the characters die on screen with the knife still embedded. These scenes are a step up in brutality from the fight scenes we saw in Part One.

It is these combinations of cruelty and particularly cruel characters throughout the film, as well as the upsetting violent acts that mean my nine-year-old won’t be seeing it for a few more years yet. This sci-fi fantasy epic film is better suited to teenagers and more mature young people who can hold the tough scenes within the context of a film. A more mature viewer is less likely to have nightmares about what they’ve seen in the film.

(We have some fascinating videos about brain development and age stages to help understand why younger viewers need to be protected from difficult content in entertainment).

Our featured decisions provide a rating breakdown for popular movies and TV shows. We’ve written up the strongest content for both Dune (Part One) and Dune: Part Two. We try to avoid spoilers where possible and we hope you make use of these to make an informed choice about what you and your whānau decide to watch.

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