Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kyle MacLachlan, Sean Young, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Dean Stockwell, Francesca Annis, Brad Dourif, Jos Ferrer, Max von Sydow, Alicia Witt, Linda Hunt, Virginia Madsen, Everett McGill, Jack Nance, Jrgen Prochnow, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan, Silvana Mangano, Kenneth McMillan, Sian Phillips, Paul L. Smith
Written by: David Lynch, based on a novel by Frank Herbert
Directed by: David Lynch
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 137
Date: 12/14/1984

Dune (1984)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Desert Planet

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Dune is mainly interesting as a curio in the career of the brilliant, bizarre director David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive); fans may enjoy combing through the movie to find his unique touches, but his detractors will argue that it's just more "weird for weird's sake." Unfortunately, anyone looking for a satisfying and coherent science fiction epic will have to look elsewhere. Lynch compressed the 500-page novel into an awkward 137-minute movie, resulting in an overuse on terrible, expository dialogue and characters "thinking" out loud to explain their motivations. (A 177-minute version was assembled for television, but Lynch did not approve it and removed his name from it.)

In a bizarre futuristic galaxy, the evil House Harkonnen and the good House Atreides are locked in war over the production and distribution of a drug called Spice that enables users to travel vast distances and extend their lives.The spice exists only on one planet, Arrakis, or "Dune." Unfortunately, the planet is also patrolled by monstrous killer worms. The horrible Baron Harkonnen strikes first and kills the beloved Duke Leto, but he doesn't realize that the Duke's son Paul (Kyle MacLachlan) is actually the "chosen one," destined to travel to Arrakis and lead the native Fremen to freedom. He learns some mystical battle tactics, forms an army and launches an attack on the Harkonnens. But can Paul survive the ultimate test of the "water of life"?

Fans of "bad" sci-fi movies may get some enjoyment out of the movie's odd visual effects and the cheesy score by Toto and Brian Eno certainly has some majestic moments. The impressive ensemble cast may also provide some pleasures, including Patrick Stewart, Virginia Madsen as the narrator, Brad Dourif, pop star Sting, Max von Sydow, a very young Alicia Witt and Jack Nance (the star of Lynch's Eraserhead).

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