An exiled prince becomes a fearsome warrior so he can rally the clans of a desert planet, avenge his father's murder, and bring freedom to the universe.
Written and Directed by David Lynch
Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Francesca Annis, Jürgen Prochnow, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Kenneth McMillan,
José Ferrer, Everett McGill, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones,
Brad Dourif, Dean Stockwell, Silvana Mangano
Based on the novel by Frank Herbert
Oscar Nominations - Best Sound
Dune is one of those grandiose epic space operas that most people pretend they understand. It's the sci-fi Lord of the Rings, but without the timeless characters, the relatable life lessons, and emotional stakes. Dune is a soulless, confusing, mess of an epic. Its characters have no depth, the plot is nonsensical, and why is the main character named Paul? The mix of fake, sci-fi gibberish and regular human names like Paul, Jessica, and Duncan is just weird and off-putting. Go big or go home. I can see why David Lynch considers this the only real failure of his career, so much so that he has effectively disowned it.
Our hero is Paul Atreides (MacLachlan), son of the Duke Leto Atreides, controller of the Planet Arrakis, where the highly sought after substance called spice is mined. House Atreides is in a long-standing feud with House Harkonnen, led by the vile Baron (McMillan). Also, the Emperor of the Universe (Ferrer) wants Paul dead for some reason. You with me so far? After being betrayed by a family friend, the Duke is murdered and Paul and his mother are exiled into the deserts of Arrakis. They are rescued by the reclusive Fremen, the original inhabitants of Arrakis, and Paul is groomed to be the savior of the universe. Move over, Flash Gordon. The novel Dune is so dense that a lot of relevant backstory was cut to make the movie a manageable length. As a result, only hardcore fans are going to know what's going on.
Ironically, fans are the ones who have disowned the movie more than anyone. It simply doesn't fit their vision, and even by mid-80's standards, the effects are pretty awful. Despite a host of surprisingly strong performances, notably Kyle MacLachlan, Dune just tries way too hard to be the next Star Wars that it falls flat on its face and into relative obscurity. Here's hoping Denis Villeneuve pulls it off, though the bar hasn't been set very high.