Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
David Lynch’s science-fiction action adventure in which a Duke’s son (Kyle MacLachlan) leads desert combatants against the immense emperor and his father’s nasty arch-rival. With Virginia Madsen.
Director David Lynch had treated us with two excellent movies to start his career – Eraserhead and The Elephant Man. Now, his third movie as director sees him attempt the science-fiction genre for the first time, but the final product is one that should have been better.
Adapted from the novel of the same name by Frank Herbert, which was published 19 years earlier, Dune is set in the year 10191, where a spice named melange is the most appreciated material known in the world, and its only basis is the desert planet Arrakis. A royal verdict awards Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) and overthrows his unpleasant opponents, the Harkonnens.
However, when the Harkonnens aggressively seize back their territory, it is up to Paul (Kyle MacLachlan), Leto’s son, to be in charge of the Fremen, the natives of Arrakis, in a fight for domination of the planet and its spice.
Kyle MacLachlan gives an okay performance in his role as Paul, the Duke’s son who isn’t that determined on attempting to stop the emperor and his opponent, while Jürgen Prochnow is okay as Leto Atreides, the Duke involved.
The star-studded supporting cast includes Patrick Stewart, Brad Dourif, Dean Stockwell, Virginia Madsen, José Ferrer, Sting, Linda Hunt, and Max von Sydow, all giving moderate performances in their respective roles as Gurney Halleck, Piter De Vries, Doctor Wellington Yueh, Princess Irulan, Padishah Empoeror Shaddam IV, Feyd Rautha, the Shadout Mapes and Doctor Kynes.
The direction from Lynch is okay but it should have been better, such as showing more facial expressions to a stronger effect, while also having more of a tense atmosphere happening as well – this doesn’t occur much.
The script is written to an okay standard by the director as it is weak in places and there are scenes that did not need to be in the final edit, so the duration didn’t need to be as long as it was and the pace is slow.
However, it’s not all bad, as the camera, sound and visual effects stand out best in terms of the technical aspects, as the camera makes some good use of the locations and also captures the action sequences well, which get some edge-of-the-seat status; the sound is excellent as you have to listen carefully and got an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Mixing; the visual effects dazzle whenever they appear on screen.
I can only hope that Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the novel – whenever that is released – will be better.
Overall, some of the technical aspects are decent, but David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune is a disappointing one, due to the okay performances, direction, weak script, slow pace and lack of tension and character determination.