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Archive for July 11th, 2020

Dune” (1984)  —  movie review
With the release of the 2020 version of this movie due out “soon”, I decided to go back and look at the earlier version for perspective.
The 1984 version is directed by David Lynch and stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides (the hero and main character), Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica (the hero’s mom), Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides (the hero’s dad), José Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (the “real” main villain), Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (the villain with the most screen time), Everett McGill as Stilgar (the leader of the Fremen of Arrakis), Sean Young as Chani (Stilgar’s daughter and the hero’s love interest), Alicia Witt as Alia (the hero’s younger sister), Paul L. Smith as The Beast Rabban (henchman #1), Sting as Feyd Rautha (henchman #2, who has a duel with the hero at the end), Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck (one of the hero’s teacher’s / trainer’s), Dean Stockwell as Doctor Wellington Yueh (a traitor to the House Atreides), and Max von Sydow as Doctor Kynes (the Freman who first thinks Paul is their “messiah”).  Whew!!
The movie is a pretty standard hero’s discovery plot with a browbeating religious overtone thrown-in for the heck of it.  There’s a bad Emperor who is playing to main families off against each other and using a “spice planet” (Arrakis) as the golden ring.  The spice has something to do with enhancing your ability to “see” the universe and to fold space so trips across the galaxy / universe are instantaneous.  The Altreides family are the good guys and the Harkonnen family are the evil guys.  The only planet (Arrakis) where you can get the spice is a desert world of heat, sand and giant “worms” which burrow through the sand / desert.  (This strangely reminded me of the movie “Tremors” from 1990, and which is MUCH better movie.)
Anyway, the “Fremen” of Arrakis are awaiting a leader who will free them from the Emperor, blah, blah, blah.  And, along comes Paul.  A LOT more blah, blah, blah and Paul rides a worm, leads the Fremen, big staged knife duel with Sting and happily ever after.
Is this movie any good?  Does it do justice to the book?  Was it entertaining?  No, NO!!, and barely.
I read a couple of books in the Dune series (written by Frank Herbert) and, certainly the first book “Dune” is considered a “CLASSIC” in Science Fiction, space fiction, combat fiction and probably a couple of other “fiction” categories as well.  The first book (out in 1965) created a “universe” which the rest of the series builds on, but it (the first book) is bed rock.  As mentioned, I read them back in my very early 20’s, so back between 1975 and 1980 – when I was far more impressionable (Ha, ha).  I saw this movie when it came out and was extremely disappointed.  I have seen a few bits of it on YouTube, but never re-watched it (until today).  It has not improved with age.
I’m not sure if the book was too big (i.e. “Lord of the Rings“), or the movie suffered from poor vision by the director / producers, or just bad writing and acting, but the movie is plodding and  the story / plot poorly communicated and pretty badly acted.  So, no, the movie does not do justice to the book.
But, is it entertaining?  Well, other than the interpretation of the giant worms, no.  I found myself looking for the actors to see who I recognized from other roles and trying to place them.  When a movie is a little over two hours long and it feels like it’s well over four hours long, it’s either REALLY good or not so much…  (Understatement!)
Final recommendation: Poor movie.  Not a BAD movie, but it should have / could have been SO much better.  This movie pretty much ruined me for MacLachlan and I’ve hated Sting in everything I’ve ever seen him in – including most of his music videos (who’s early music – “The Police“, not his solo stuff – I mostly enjoyed).  I sure hope the re-make is better.  Fortunately, this version has set the bar pretty low.
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On This Day In:
2019 Not Enough
2018 One Thing We Do Know
2017 Preservation
2016 Going Back
2015 Just For Today
2014 Reaching For Destiny
2013 Still Just Passing Through
2012 Live Or Die
2011 On Secession
2010 A Rocky Weekend

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The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.
    ––    W. Somerset Maugham
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On This Day In:
2019 Not Enough
2018 One Thing We Do Know
2017 Preservation
2016 Going Back
2015 Just For Today
2014 Reaching For Destiny
2013 Still Just Passing Through
2012 Live Or Die
2011 On Secession
2010 A Rocky Weekend

Read Full Post »

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