Friday, March 6, 2009
Day Thirty-Four: Dune (1984) - Rank 3.5/5
This film has long has a reputation for being the only production director David Lynch considers an epic failure. To call the cinematic adaptation of "Dune" a failure seems a bit harsh in my opinion, though having never read the book, I'm free of any "literal translation to film" dogmatism and can enjoy it a little more freely than those fans of the original novel. I simply found it to be a fun (and by today's standards a little hoaky) piece of sci-fi from the early eighties (in the spirit of FX driven films, such as "Flash Gordon" or "Tron").
When it comes time to analyze the plot, it's almost impossible to do. There are countless scenes that seem far too brief, leading me to believe that Lynch's final version was intended to be four hours or so. Still, making up for a choppy plot (which I'm guessing was caused by "cherry picking" the highlights from the book and stringing them together) is a fabulous cast. Kyle MacLachlan is excellent, considering that this is his first major film role. The backup cast is a veritable wet dream of character actors, including: Dean Stockwell, Patrick Stewart, Freddie Jones, Jose Ferrer, Paul L. Smith, Leonardo Cimino, Virginia Masden, Brad Dourif, Linda Hunt, Jack Nance...and the list goes on. Kenneth McMillan steals the show in a thoroughly grotesque portrayal of the primary antagonist, Baron Harkonnen. Covered in boils, he hovers about in a skin-tight suit, cackling wildly much of the time - I'm surprised it has yet to be parodied in a film.
I'm curious now about the miniseries. I'm told it's superior to the film, but I'm afraid that the absence of David Lynch's characteristic style might make it tedious. Plus, there's something almost alluring about a high-budget, grand-spectacle Hollywood flop. Their scripts might be subpar, but they usually offer enough to keep you entertained (ex. "Toys" or "Waterworld"). Of course, my friend Bennett disagrees, citing this as the worst film he's ever seen. Knowing that, a sequel to "Kill Bennett" must be made - and made as a spoof of "Dune." "Team Switchblades is finished! How can this be? Because Bennett is the Kwisatz Haderach!" Hmm...
Watch the Trailer