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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 David Hollands

"A poorly done David Lynch film - how surprising."
2 stars

David Lynch's film adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel Dune suffers from what I like to call the "Science Fiction Block of Wood Syndrome". Symptoms of this include characters pretty indistinguishable from wooden boards, visuals that are so lavishly constructed that there is absolutely no connection to those actually populating the visuals, and a pace that would seem to suggest that what the main goal of the picture would be putting the audience to sleep.

The plot of this botch begins far in the future, with the Emperor of the Known Universe hatching a plan to rid the world of House Atreides, by luring them into a trap on a planet known as Iracus. Naturally, House Atreides leaves for Iracus due to the large amount of Spice production on the planet. The Spice is the essence of all things, providing fuel for ships and food for worlds. The trap for House Atreides will be set by House Harkonnen, a brutal and disgusting people. The trap is successful, ridding Iracus of House Atreides. However, neither the Harkonnens nor the Emperor counted on Paul Atreides, son of the Duke Atreides, who will become the embodiment of a prophecy formed by the species living on Iracus, the Freman. The Fremans having found a new leader, Paul Atreides will lead them against the Harkonnens to finally retake possession of Iracus, and the Spice.

David Lynch, who wrote the script for this, has needlessly complicated that already thick plot by poorly tying together the different plot elements. While the synopsis would make this appear to be a very complicated film, it isn't. Lynch, being the "artistic" filmmaker that he is, has added pointlessly confusing visuals to the story, and mouthfuls of voice-over narration and onscreen subtitles, when extremely simple dialogue exchanges would easily have sufficed in many cases. With all the artsy nonsense, we have at least a full hour of needlessly confusing drivel.

The biggest fault of this film though is that it's just too long. At a bloated 137 minutes, this thing moves at a pace even slower than that of a clam. While the first thirty minutes and ending ten of this are interesting and packed with promise, the film just dissolves into pure fat. Points that an audience member picks up are endlessly repeated scene after scene, and one really thinks that if the movie just said what it wanted to without all the pretentious visuals and added fat (this film seems to think that an audience member has an attention span of zero; given the pace of the film, it would most likely create low attention spans), than it would have been a lot better.

However, while the endless repeating of plot points is a problem, the main thing is that only the plot points that become inconsequential are the ones that are repeated. Yes, we already know that Paul Atreides is the prophecy fulfilled, so we don't need endless scenes of people going "Is he the prophecy?" and "He IS the prophecy!". As another example, we know that Dr. Ewey will eventually betray House Atreides, so why draw this out for the slowest members of the audience?

A curse to most science fiction films is the endless amounts of cheese. Dune is no different. The costumes, production design, and effects just oozes cheese. Rocker Sting actually shows up at one point sporting distracting spiked hair. That should convince anyone what this film is like. Not only do the visuals have cheese however, but also the dialogue Lynch has written. I could build a f*cking log cabin with it. Audience identification depends on characters actually saying things that audiences can identify with, and when that human connection isn't there, we simply just turn everything off and watch through a wall. While I'm sure Lynch was trying to keep Herbert's dialogue intact, he failed to realise that audiences need that identification with their characters in order to be drawn into the film. Should the characters be spouting endless Techno-babble and cold ramblings, we automatically cut out. A victory speech late in the film holds no weight at all, because we only see Paul Atreides as an emotionless cardboard cut-out for the entire film. When the hero of one's film is the equivalent of a store window display, one knows there's a problem.

The same emotionless feeling can be applied to David Lynch's visuals. They are beautiful to behold, as Lynch is a master of 2.35:1 widescreen composition. Still, like filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, also a visual master yet a weak storyteller, David Lynch just can't inject emotion into his visuals. While watching Dune, we feel like we're watching house construction taking place. Sure, it's precise, with an attention to detail that's remarkable, yet it's also chillingly cold. It's pretty obvious right from the get-go that Lynch is more interested in the visual possibilities of the Dune project, rather than the character-driven ones. That's really too bad because, while wooden, the characters could have been very interesting.

The technical aspects of the movie are quite impressive, however. The visual effects look far better than anything computer generated imagery could ever create. Models look impressive on the screen, especially the effects of the massive Sand Worms that populate Iracis. They can appear pretty terrifying, and through very careful editing, they even appear massive in some shots.

Animation, on the other hand, looks like animation. Typical dark outlines surround characters when they stand in front of blue screens, and intense print damage pops up during moments of optical effects. However, while one can obviously tell that visual effects are going past his or her eye, there's just something gloriously nostalgic and beautiful about the whole thing; a simpler visual effects style that would trust the audience to lend a part of their imaginations to the proceedings to complete the magic. That's why I believe earlier effects work so much better, and CGI simply fails nearly every time. Still, some of the effects, like laser gun blasts and especially a horribly drawn shield effect, are pretty cheesy and fake, and take away slightly from the experience.

Editing by Antony Gibbs is nice and precise. However, many scenes definitely should have been cut to tighten the pace. Still, during the moments that require action, Gibbs proves himself to be able to cut Lynch's production footage very well. The editing is crisp without being choppy, and never does a cut seem odd or flawed. A scene that has Paul Atreides battling a robotic machine is exciting, without appearing rushed and confusing. We can see everything that's going on, and yet we still feel the tension admirably. It's nice work.

The cinematography by Freddie Francis is rich and beautiful. There's a reason this film is a visual wonder to behold, and that's due to Francis' crisp framing and powerful lighting. Once the film moves to Iracis, the cinematography is able to capture the monotonous fields of the desert, and yet still make them appear wondrous. Francis also does something very clever in not making the world appear completely alien. Small things like the colour of sand and what not look largely like things we would see on Earth, and that just adds a sense of identification that pulls the viewer in, and doesn't alienate him or her too much.

Even though the characters are stiff, I can still see that the actors are trying their all to give them some life. They fail, but their effort is admirable. Kyle MacLachlan gives a good performance as Paul Atreides. He's able to have an innocence about him that still makes him appear to be human. He shows weakness, even when he becomes a superhuman, something which is admirable, and helps the film. The other supporting players, such as Patrick Stewart, Francesca Annis, Everett McGill, and Sian Philips are all very game in their roles, and give them as much emotion and heart as possible. Stewart, one of the only lights in the otherwise recent spate of hopelessly emotionless Star Trek films, is especially good in his small role as Gurney. I really wish they'd included more of his character, because Stewart plays it well.

The musical score by Toto is pretty good. The opening credits use a combination of synthesizers and natural instruments to create an otherworldly effect, which benefits the picture. It lends the movie a majestic quality, yet just like the visuals, it seems to be a bit emotionless. It only appears to be supporting Lynch's visuals rather than the actual action taking place in those visuals, so it can also feel bland. Plus, it becomes very, very cheesy whenever Toto unwisely introduces rock and roll into the mix. During heroic moments, an electric guitar suddenly rears its ugly notes, and shatters any kind of otherworldly-ness achieved before. It simply sounds too much like something of this world, not something that would be in the world of Dune, and thus feels horribly out of place.

Dune is a disappointing science fiction film. While there are elements to the piece that are interesting, some even excellent, the movie is simply too bland and pretencious. Cheese runs rampant throughout the picture, with much of the dialogue and look of the film appearing ridiculous and laughable. The movie joins the rather large list of science fiction works that appear to have tried, and yet have failed miserably.

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originally posted: 05/15/04 12:37:43
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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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