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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.43%
Average: 10.32%
Pretty Bad: 11.9%
Total Crap: 17.46%

4 reviews, 102 user ratings

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by Brian McKay

"When, Oh Lord, will they learn to leave well enough alone?"
5 stars

Nothing can fuck up a good movie like a case of re-make-itis. The only thing worse than a shitty sequel is an inferior remake, and consequently, nothing will make you appreciate the source material more. Case in point: let us contrast the Sci-Fi channel's unholy debacle with David Lynch's masterpiece.

Having been a fan of the orginal Dune film for years, I was excited to see the Sci-Fi channel's take on the Frank Herbert classic. My girlfriend was also a huge fan of the film, and so we decided to go in together on purchasing the miniseries DVD. She fell asleep an hour into it, but I trudged on ahead like a good little Sardukar trooper. Now I'm wondering how much I can get for it on E-bay.

To be entirely fair, the miniseries isn't completely unwatchable. Some of the visual effects, most notably the sandworms, are an actual improvement over the original. Also, the knife-fighting scenes are dynamic and competently coreographed. But while some scenes look absolutely stunning, others suffer from a distinct lack of production values, and this kind of inconsistency plagues the entire miniseries. But the first and biggest stumbling block with it is the costumes. I have never seen such atrocious and ridiculous attire in my life, and I constantly wondered how they expected the actors to deliver the material with a straight face while wearing them, much less us to take it seriously while watching them. I felt like I was watching the deformed bastard child of an old Buck Rodgers serial and a 1940's musical. Gaudy colors and materials, topped with the most ludicrous hats and headdresses ever witnessed by man, and they kept getting worse and worse as the show went along (I hope this isn't what I have to look forward to in Moulin Rouge). And what the fuck was that Kite-thing that Feyd Rautha wore on his back through half the show? But the gem in this crown of wardrobe idiocy has to be princess Irulan's butterfly headdress. Its stupidity cannot be believed until seen. Unfortunately, all of this turns what could have been a halfway competent remake into an utterly unintentional parody. If sandworms really existed, it would be a fitting end to feed the costume designer to one.

So, the first point goes to Lynch's film, which used far more conservative and austere costumes to much better effect. From the Atreides and Imperial military uniforms, to the body-hugging and imposing Fremen stillsuits, to the shaved heads and black robes of the Bene Gesserit, the costumes in Lynch's film were not only impressive and appropriate to the epic scope of the film, but they never once elicited a chuckle, much less an "Oh Christ, you've GOT to be KIDDING."

The second stumbling block in this sprawling six-hour disaster is the aforementioned production values. It is painfully obvious that many of the desert scenes were shot on a soundstage somewhere with a painted desert-sky and sand dune background. Likewise, many of the exterior shots of the city of Arrakeen appear to be nothing more than glorified matte paintings. A strange contrast to the visuals of the sandworms or Spacing Guild Highliners, which look surprisingly cool. But it's these former moments that shatter what little disbelief wasn't already cornholed by the horrible costumes. This spotty visual quality leads me to believe that they couldn't make the entire production as ambitious as they wanted to with the budget at hand, so they played pick-and-choose, lavishing money and care on some of the more impressive scenes while merely scrimping by on the rest. Even the stunning blue eyes of the fremen are not done with any consistency. This is also plain to see in the major battle scenes which, while potentially exciting, are far too truncated to really satisfy. The saving grace in this department are the individual knife fights, especially the shield fighting, which we don't see nearly enough of.

So, if you're keeping score at home, that's 30-love for Mr. Lynch. While the 15 year old special effects in the film aren't as impressive as those used in the miniseries, they are at least consistently applied. The production values are equally consistent, and during the outdoor scenes I never once doubted that the characters were actually in the desert rather than on a soundstage (or sandstage, if you will). Likewise, Lynch lavished a bit more time and detail on the battles and beautifully managed to get the epic scope of them across to the viewer.

And now to the final hurdle of the miniseries: Story and acting. If one were going to do a re-telling of Dune, and within the luxury of a 5-hour window, you would think that one would at least try to stick to the source material. I don't mean Lynch's film, but the original novel itself. Lynch took some liberties with Herbert's story. He had to, because there was no way it could realistically be told in a 2+ hour time period otherwise. John Harrison, writer and director of the Sci-fi miniseries, has no such excuse. He does add some of the original elements of the story that Lynch either never filmed, or had to cut for length. But he tends to tack on other scenes that seem to be nothing more than filler. This miniseries could have been done more effectively within a four hour window, and trimmed some of the fat, like Irulan's seduction of Feyd Rautha, or the state dinner on Arrakis where she and her infamous buttefly costume (I will wake up in a cold sweat over that for weeks to come) make their appearance. Equally annoying is the stilted delivery of the dialogue, and the tendency the actors have to pronounce nearly every name different than they were in Lynch's film - i.e. Chani ("chaw-nee") sounds more like "Janey". This butchered pronunciation of the script is another source of frustration and unsolicited laughter. Likewise, the cast is populated by a bunch of unknown and mostly foreign actors, and the mishmash of accents quickly becomes grating.

Of course, Mr Lynch also used an international cast in his film. The major difference, however, is that these people had TALENT. The acting in the miniseries is either so wooden or over the top, especially when compared to the same lines spoken by the cast of Lynch's films, that it just feels like going through the motions and waiting for the next decent special effects segment. Alec Newman is mildly competent as Paul Atreides, but he's no Kyle MacLachlan. And while Barbora Kodetova makes for a beautiful and mesmerizingly blue-eyed Chani (especially when she peels out of her stillsuit), she does not bring the fierce demeanor or emotion to the role that Sean Young did. The rest of the miniseries cast, including an incredibly wooden William Hurt (the only person whose name appears on the front of the DVD case, by the way, which should have been my first warning), is merely there to fill the various roles, but cannot possibly fill the shoes of their predecessors. The lineup in Lynch's film was a telented international cast of respected film and theater actors. It could almost be classified as an "all-star" cast, even though some of it's members, like pre-Trek Patrick Stewart, hadn't realized their full star potential yet. Oh, and by the way, Sting's portrayal of Feyd Rautha still kicks ass. Let's see, I believe that makes the score 40-love, in favor of Mr. Lynch.

Frank Herbert's novel is not the easiest medium to adapt to film. That Lynch could render a far superior telling of it with half the time and budget afforded to the miniseries is a testament to his genius. Game, set, and match, to David Lynch.

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originally posted: 05/27/01 08:59:19
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User Comments

7/30/12 Paul R. Kramer james roberts is the creator of the sand worms and a friend of the family 3 stars
7/09/12 Langano It's crap, Lynch has said it himself, To all you Lynch haters, go fuck yourselves. 1 stars
4/21/11 bored mom Book not suited for film. High production value can't save the painfully awkward script. 2 stars
3/21/11 Pamela White I liked it but I'm a sci-fi fan 4 stars
7/21/10 art I never saw it all,only highlight is the BARON being deflated by that little GIRL! 1 stars
5/21/10 Tipsy McStagger Lynch's version ruled, though I would have loved to see his original 4-hour cut. 4 stars
3/25/10 mark reitinger hearing their thoughts was VERY much like the book 4 stars
12/14/09 chief wiggum stunning 5 stars
7/05/09 matt a great adaptation. better than almost everyone says 5 stars
5/23/09 Herbert Was an ok movie, but no movie adaption will ever come close to touching the book. 3 stars
10/09/08 Jeff movie got me interested in the book, and was memorable. great on atmosphere. 3 stars
8/21/08 james as movies go, they both sucked.. you have to be a HARDCORE homo fan to like this crap 1 stars
7/22/08 the dork knight Yep. David Lynch is an asshole, all right 2 stars
7/21/08 Joe Lynch's verion - incoherent, woefully acted. Miniseries = overblown, woefully acted. Avoid! 1 stars
6/19/08 karmasurfer The thoughts to the camera were integral to pack more into 2hrs. time. Brilliant! 5 stars
5/22/08 Quincy Weirding modules weren't in the books. I guess weirding fremen ninjas weren't good enough 5 stars
3/19/08 Jason A Sci Fi fan's dream movie, one of my all time favs 5 stars
1/25/08 Steersman good movie could fucking better but also counld been a lot worst 5 stars
1/11/08 Jeff Explain the weirding modules for me please. Where in Herbet's books were they? 4 stars
2/28/07 CARLENE HAYTON good movie! 5 stars
2/17/07 G Sherfy Great movie; even better book. Only slightly dated. 4 stars
12/31/06 mr.mike not that bad - but i admit i do worship at lynch's alter 3 stars
12/27/06 jikes Lynch's Dune - masterpiece 5 stars
10/27/06 Isaac Baranoff Not your typical Lynch film! 5 stars
7/23/06 David Cohen Took liberties with the book, but a lot better than the Sci-Fi channel's version 4 stars
2/03/06 Ralph Another David Lynch crapfest 1 stars
10/14/05 Bob Damn straight! Please, book lovers, give Lynch's Dune another chance. 5 stars
8/25/05 Klondo the whispering is stupid, but it looks cool and the score is awesome - could've been great 3 stars
8/19/05 ES The only lynch movie of any value, obviously he was on a short leash 4 stars
7/21/05 Damien An "atmosphère" very well designed 5 stars
7/12/05 Tom Benton Brilliant at times, but in the end it's an unextraodinary effort from master Lynch. 3 stars
3/25/05 indrid cold A great candidate for a remake; Lynch is a stylist, but not a storyteller. 4 stars
2/22/05 Captain Craig Considering its production date...quite a piece of work, but disjouinted storyline 3 stars
2/08/05 daveyt Everything's over the top, pure sci-fi...! 5 stars
1/06/05 Smitty Great book, horrendous movie - very stupid idea of everyone thinking to the camera. 1 stars
12/27/04 Dave the mini-series was on the money story wise. no guild navs w/ the emperor or weirding guns. 5 stars
9/03/04 Aaron Smith Kyle McLachlan is bad in his portrayal of Paul Atreides. 2 stars
7/11/04 Peanut's Gallery horrid costumes, mediocre acting/directing... but worth a look for any dune fan 3 stars
7/04/04 Daveman Fuck ya's, this film is both visually stunning and very entertaining. 4 stars
6/07/04 John interessting in parts but never amounts to a coherent whole (or an exiting film) 2 stars
5/17/04 Jack Sommersby Visually spectacular but contextually muddled. 2 stars
5/15/04 Steve-O Darkofnight, the movie is nowhere near as bloated as your review. And it's ATREIDES, fucker 5 stars
4/22/04 Zac Much better than David Lynch's Dune..characters more believeable 4 stars
3/15/04 vladimir harkonen neither the movie dune or the tv series dune are not even close to the source books 2 stars
11/11/03 Christopher Pike Both the movie and the book were shit. 1 stars
10/19/03 jpm It surely has faults, but its still more good than bad 4 stars
8/30/03 Rens Henkemans Generally ediocre SFX (even for the time) 3 stars
8/04/03 Laura The Original film is a masterpiece and Sting, for me, the star of the show! 5 stars
5/27/03 Jareth Kyle MacLachlan is so not Paul Atreides, good cinematography and music though. 3 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon Utter crap. Waaaaaaaaay too much pointless bullshit. 1 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Overlong and incomprehensible. But, visually, it's simply mesmerizing. 2 stars
1/22/03 Pinkline Jones zzzz put me to sleep.....mind rot 1 stars
1/19/03 Dave The ending is kind of crap and most of the book is overlooked, but still a very good flick, 4 stars
7/29/02 Shai Hulud The miniseries was good, but the original is still the best. Nothing beats the book though. 5 stars
7/15/02 drkdahlia Decent adaptation, but good movie nonetheless 5 stars
6/25/02 Charles Tatum Well, it certainly looks nice 3 stars
4/06/02 John Roberson Not great, not bad.And far better-looking than the TV version.See the Alan Smithee cut, tho 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Of course, the book is better. I love the music, the scenery, and MacLachlan. 5 stars
1/24/02 Eric Totally silly and unbelievably ugly adaptation. Watch the miniseries remake instead. 1 stars
1/12/02 George Malagaris A great movie if you watch it carefully 5 stars
11/04/01 E-Funk Kinda cluttered, but a well-directed, interesting spin on Herbert's novel. 4 stars
11/01/01 Aryc Ogre Lynch did read the book and Herbert was on the set frequently. 5 stars
10/25/01 Federico Read the book, Bitchslap. Lynch did not, and neither did you! the sci-fi miniseries roxx, l 5 stars
10/10/01 Miri I loved the book, I loved this version, and I wish it was longer! 5 stars
10/03/01 Destruction Worker A bit hard to follow a times, but it rocked my world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/27/01 ric So boring, you'll wish you were watching Battlefield Earth. 1 stars
6/06/01 Muad'Dib Not a true adapation of the best SF book ever, but a worthy effort under the circumstances 4 stars
5/23/01 Bada Bing Crosby The Cure for Insomnia; Linda Hunt plays a mushroom well, though 1 stars
5/13/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Too much to do and not enough time. Needed to be a series to get it all right. 2 stars
4/29/01 Eric One of the true all-time big-budget sci-fi bombs. Worse than Battlefield Earth. 1 stars
4/12/01 Tyrone Lynch is god! This film needs to be watched more than one to get it all! 5 stars
3/11/01 Korben Dallas No Dudes, all Dune, The Fifth Element and Stargate all Rocked! 5 stars
3/07/01 Mike Lynch's worst, but still amazing, and the best sci-fi ever made! 5 stars
12/29/00 EvilDead-Ash Even Fifth Element was better than this. 1 stars
12/21/00 Jplindsey@hotmail.Com StarGate was better than this Bomb. 1 stars
12/19/00 Destruction Worker Those sandworms must eat a LOT OF SAND! 5 stars
12/15/00 viking Visually stunning, but a great story is reduced to melodrama 4 stars
12/12/00 Jplindsey@hotmail.Com So bad and expensive that it makes " Howard The Duck" look like a oscar winner. 1 stars
12/06/00 Heather Kern This is by far my favorite movie of all. It is absolutley sweeping! 5 stars
11/09/00 Jon Axt Lynch needs about four more hours to even start to bring F.H.'s vision to life but so what. 5 stars
11/04/00 PJ meloun I loved was so HUGE 4 stars
10/15/00 Nate It had great special effects, cast, music, but it was too rushed to be great. 4 stars
4/20/00 Will It's pretty candy but kinda poopy. 3 stars
1/25/00 Myles Incredible set design. Lynch truly created another world. 5 stars
1/19/00 STracey Another movie should be made. The House of Atredies 5 stars
12/05/99 Eric S. There's great potential, but the film is too joyless and the main character isn't likeable. 3 stars
12/01/99 matthew an incredible film 5 stars
10/07/99 sophia962 So close and yet so far. Do not expect it to live up to the book. Flawless casting though 4 stars
8/18/99 Rodney Duke So Bad It Is Punishment To Watch It 1 stars
4/25/99 JDC if you've never read Dune you'll hate it. Beats the hell out of Starship Troopers on screen 4 stars
1/07/99 Juan Carlos Rey If David F***ing Lynch had left in the extra hour of footage, it would have been bitchin. 5 stars
1/03/99 Dasha How can anyone like this piece of crap?! 1 stars
12/07/98 Shadow Raider I enjoyed that movie, 'cause they starred Patrick Stewart and Sting. They both kick ass! 5 stars
11/24/98 DrEvil DeLaurentiis trashed a great novel. That's the Hollywood way! 1 stars
10/27/98 Danman Mangled worse then Oprah's dinner. 1 stars
10/24/98 Vincent I love this film- never read the book so can't compare it but love the film 5 stars
9/16/98 Trav This film is a disgrace. Bad editing. Bad acting. What a waste! 1 stars
9/15/98 Ben Read the book first and you'll enjoy it even more!Fantastic movie!! 5 stars
9/10/98 cheryl_ann great flick, 'nuff said. 5 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball It had worms. 4 stars
8/23/98 Mister Whoopee I never liked it. I know I'm minority, but I never did. 2 stars
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  14-Dec-1984 (PG-13)
  DVD: 31-Jan-2006



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