Monday, November 17, 2014

Dune (1984)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

There are some movies that you watch and you can understand.  There are some movies that require a little explanation or background information.  Then, there are some movies that you watch and have no idea what the f*#$ is going on.  Dune is the third kind of movie.

I had wanted to watch it because it was one of those movies that everyone kept talking about as being so great and everything.  When it came on one of the cable movie channels, I decided to record it.  Now, let me state that I saw the shorter version of the movie.  There is a longer version, which I would assume explains more.  Both versions are based on Frank Herbert’s book of the same name.  This is probably why I didn’t understand most of it and I accept this.

That being said, this incarnation was a bit confusing.  It takes place about 8000-9000 years in the future.  Humanity has spread throughout the galaxy and has the ability to travel very quickly.  What makes this possible is a substance called Spice.  (Spice also has mind-altering capabilities, as well.)  Spice is grown on only a planet called Arrakis (a.k.a. Dune) and whoever controls that planet controls pretty much everything.

The movie starts with some worm-like creature confronting the Emperor about something that the Emperor is plotting.  The worm gets the Emperor to admit everything, allowing him to go through with his plan if only he kills Paul for him.  Paul is the son of the Duke and his house is set to take over Dune.  It’s not clear at first why an assassination of Paul would be necessary, but there’s a prophecy that Paul will liberate the people of Dune.

The movie seems to drag at first, with Paul traveling to Dune from his home planet.  There’s a lot going on, including battle training.  There’s also a sisterhood, of which Paul’s mother was a member.  This sisterhood, Bene Gesserit, manipulates bloodlines.  It seems that Paul was supposed to be Paulette, but his mother decided to have a boy.  (Apparently, they can just do that sort of stuff.)  I wasn’t exactly clear on why it was important that Paul be a girl rather than the next child.  I’m assuming that it was covered in more detail in the book.

When Paul gets to Dune, there’s a power struggle.  His house takes over the planet, but the old house manages to get it back.  Paul knows that there’s some connection between the giant worms and Spice, but he can’t put his finger on it.  There were a lot of voiceovers used as exposition.  (I’m wondering if this was an easy way to introduce information from the book.)

At the very least, most of the acting was good.  (You may recognize Sting, Dean Stockewll and Patrick Stewart.)  I wish I could say the same for the rest of the movie.  The film quality looked like something out of the early 80s.  The music and special effects were of similar quality.  In some areas, the plot seemed to drag and in others, it seemed to be rushed.  Some characters were important, but had little screen time or explanation.  It also seemed like the movie bounced around in some places.

I nearly shut it off several times.  I had little idea what was going on most of the time.  Even after reading reviews and going to IMDb, I’m still a little confused.  I don’t really even know how others understood the movie.  I’m wondering if I should look into the longer version or if I should just read the book. 

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