When the idea for “Cool, Cool, Cool Summer 2019” was born, I knew that part of the experiment would be viewing popular movies that I never managed to see while growing up. Dune is one of those movies. Having never heard any good opinions or reviews towards this movie, I never felt the urge to give it a shot… until now. Whoo boy. Here goes.
To be fair, I wasn’t going into this viewing totally cold, since I did read the Frank Herbert novel several years ago. The book was great, the movie was not. If I hadn’t read the novel, I’m sure I would be even more confused, which is saying something.
The first hour of Dune is the slowest of slogs, through meandering dream sequences and scenes filled with a cavalcade of characters straight out of George Lucas’ reject bin. A day later, I’m still wondering about certain aspects of this movie, but not in a good way — what the heck were those giant testicle creatures anyway? The plot of this movie is so muddled, an actual storyline only starts to appear after 2/3 of the way through.
Kyle MacLachlan is miscast in this movie. He is just awful in the beginning, when his character is a dumb “kid” and later on, when he becomes the heroic figure he was destined to become, you just don’t care for him still.
I really don’t know what David Lynch was trying to do with this movie. Many of the scenes were laughably bad (floating Baron, anyone?), while the source material is so rich. Was it his intention to make a campy movie or a serious epic? Granted, I’m not a big fan of Lynch’s movies, but why did anyone think he was a good fit for this one?
You know a movie is going to be bad when they need a narrator to explain what’s going on at various points in the story. If you haven’t seen Dune before and decide to watch it, I would recommend reading a synopsis so you have a vague sense of what is going on, and maybe make it just a little more watchable.
The villains in this movie are disgusting, terrible, and hard to watch. The actors really got into the roles, even Sting, and I won’t forget their antics any time soon.
Overall, the special effects were not very good for 1984. Star Wars hit the screens seven years before Dune, and looked a whole lot better despite the fact that Dune had a pretty robust budget. The cube fighting shields were straight out of Tron and unlike anything else in the movie. I’m a sucker for miniatures and set design, and there were some good ones on display here. The sandworms were great, but got tiresome after their one trick was shown over and over again at the end. Their design borrowed a lot from the Sarlacc Pit, while also being a clear inspiration for the Demigorgon in Stranger Things.
Once the movie got going and actually started to feel like an action movie, things got better. Capturing and riding the sandworms was pretty nifty, but then the guns powered by your voice came along and ruined it. The fighters sounded like Grover every time they fired their pistols. Oh, and the ropes they used to harness the sandworms were totally those plastic jumpropes from the school playground.
The end of the movie features laser guns and explosions, finally. The bad guy gets eaten after floating down a sandworm’s mouth. The end. Spoiler alert.
Dune runs 2:17 long, but it felt much longer.
Random thoughts while watching:
- Jean Luc Picard looks strange with long hair.
- Hey, that’s Dean Stockwell with a bad porn ‘stache! I should have spent this time watching some old episodes of Quantum Leap instead.
- Those eyebrows make Andy Rooney’s look small.
- This society is incredibly low-tech for being 80,000 years in the future.
- What’s with the dogs, cats, and rats? Was the special FX budget trimmed?
- Ha! That’s David Lynch as the spice worker in the desert.
- The military troops looked like they walked off the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark. They are wearing the Nazi desert trooper uniforms!
- Sean Young was so cute. She went a little loopy didn’t she? Maybe this movie had something to do with it.
- The nose breathing apparatus was a poor design decision. Sean Young looks like Adolf Hitler in the kissing scenes.
- Okay, now what is going on with that upside down cow?
- The best part of the movie is the soundtrack by Toto — somewhat reminiscent of Queen’s soundtrack for Flash Gordon.
- The Duke is told to “Remember the tooth.” I thought he said “truth,” which would have made more sense, but no, its “tooth.”
- Just when you think this movie is pretty weird, the box with the cat and rat comes out. You gotta milk the cat for the antidote.
- I don’t typically suggest alcohol or drugs, but they would probably make this movie exceptional. Watching this movie sober was a mistake.
Well, I can now check that one off the list. Will I watch Dune again, probably not. Was it worth watching once? Not really. Sci-fi fans should probably check it out only because it’s one of the touchstones of the genre, but for everyone else, maybe spend your time sorting the spice cabinet in your kitchen.
This summer, I am going back to the 70’s and 80’s with the Cool, Cool, Cool Summer 2019. Follow along and let me know if there’s something you think I should revisit.