Based on the well-known novel by Frank Herbert.
Before I begin, it should be known that this is my first time watching Dune thanks to the recent Blu-ray re-release by Lionsgate. I’ll also confess that going into this film I wasn’t familiar with the novel or any significant details from the book.
The film opens up with a narration explaining the universe of Dune and giving a brief description of the different planets that participate in this story. There is just so much to unpack in this film even based only on the film’s opening alone. The plot of Dune is also rather complicated on the first watch. If you’ve ever watched this film without reading the novel hopefully you can relate to what I mean. To give an extremely abridged version, a man named Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) is the son of a Duke. Paul soon learns he is called to extraordinary things, discovering that he is somewhat of a god with supernatural powers yet to be unleashed.
Because of the complicated plot, Dune feels incredibly cramped. The film’s opening act was great and the explanations about the world and how it all works was also positive to see. The 1st act is relatively easy going with its plot and builds up our interest in the leading character. But once the film hits the 2nd and 3rd acts, it all feels rushed and like there were lots of scenes left on the editing room floor. The cuts between some scenes feel abrupt and out of place. The film also provides the audience with inner monologues from key characters, beginning to appear more commonly in the 2nd act. Sometimes these monologues come across slightly cheesy and as a last-minute addition to the final cut.
The audio and visuals on this remastered Blu-ray release are incredible. I loved seeing this film’s creativity come to life. Considering the year this was made, the Blu-ray remastering is an outstanding result. The film’s DTS-HD Audio tracks were also impressive, and I must praise the soundtrack featuring Toto. The use of landscapes and different planets was also fun to see. Action sequences, while some were obviously green-screened, still hold up quite nicely.
Performances are generally positive, but I can’t deny that some performances feel a little underused. Actors such as Patrick Stewart, Sean Young and even Sting are barely seen. Given the runtime, it feels as if these characters were somewhat pushed to the side and ignored. For those who are not aware, Dune was directed by David Lynch (Lost Highway & Mullholland Drive). The director brings a unique style for sci-fi fans, and it feels like nothing I have never seen before, making Dune an impressive experience even if some aspects of the plot don’t always make sense.
Overall, considering this is my first time watching Dune (yes, I know I’m late), this is a fascinating film in so many ways. Visually as a sci-fi film, there is so much to praise and likewise can be said for performances and the film soundtrack by Toto. But as a plot, I cannot deny this film feels too loaded and somewhat complex on a first viewing. There are also scenes which don’t feel were consistent with the film’s pace and story, particularly from the 2nd and 3rd act. Nevertheless, I found lots to enjoy here and naturally fans who love the Dune novel will gain the most enjoyment out of this film.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden