In the 11th millennium, Shaddam IV, ruler of the Galactic Empire, rids himself of his competitor Duke Leto Atreides by giving him control of the desert planet Dune also called Arrakis; fully aware that its present owner, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, will not give it up without a fight. The reason is that Arrakis is the source of the valuable spice, a substance produced by enormous and dangerous sandworms, which bestows special mental qualities on anyone who consumes it. A short while later Harkonnen does indeed succeed in ambushing and massacring Leto and his men. Leto's mistress Lady Jessica, who is a member of the clairvoyant order of Bene Gesserit, manages to escape into the desert with her son Paul, and after a long and dangerous march they finally encounter the Fremen, the long suppressed desert tribe of Arrakis. Impressed by Paul's clairvoyant abilities, tribal prince Stilgar takes in the fugitives. Very soon the Fremen are convinced that Paul is their long-prophesied redeemer, and...Written by
Weird if you haven't read the book, horrible if you have
This movie is an attempt to fit a saga such as Frank Herbert's into $20M and this sad fact is apparent in every CGI sequence, in every landscape, in every interior and costume. The book is such a great material for a superb movie. Unfortunately, Dune 2000 is anything but that.
Every other actor is miscast. Think of the formidable Thufir Hawat, a mentat capable of devising "plots within plots within plots", a mentat whose very name strikes fear in the hearts of his enemies. We have a fat old man who can but shout 'B*****ds!' at the charging Sardaukar. Think of the Fremen, the people who have lived in a desert all their lives, people who can kill for a gallon of water. They didn't manage to find enough lean-looking people. Think of Stilgar, the natural born leader, who radiates authority. With all due respect for Uwe Ochsenknecht, he's just not doing the job.
Granted, it's hard to find an actor young enough _and_capable of portraying such a complex character as Paul. But Alec Newman doesn't have charisma, authority and commitment that MacLachlan so powerfully communicated in the 1984 version. And his relationship with Chani looks much more like mother-and-son.
Interiors. Corrino, the Imperial House, and the Atreides, "men of honor and principle", could do better than live in flashy rooms looking like a dream of a nouveau riche. Costumes. Most of the them look like they came out of Batman and Robin. Landscapes. Think of the beauty of the desert: sunsets against the endless ripple on a sea of sand stretching to the horizon, the black-and blue of the desert by moonlight. They used poor quality gouache backdrops. If they couldn't afford a trip to Sahara, why on earth couldn't they at least get some decent photo imagery?
Now one could forgive all this and more, had the director managed to communicate the essence of the story. But that, too, has went out of the window. It could be understood if the director shot his Dune about something different, but John Harrison apparently has no such ambition.
Two main points of the story, Paul's oracle and Fremen dream about making Dune a paradise, were lost. Words 'Kwizats Haderach' have been uttered but twice. If not about this then _what_ Dune _is_ about? Where is the Fremen desire to see their world green, to see rain where none had been before, to see streams running where but sand has been? Where is Paul's agony of trying to avoid the Jihad?
My grudge list is not half complete but I'll shut up for now. One should not even attempt to shoot Dune with such a budget. You can't do it, and your failure may scare off people who can. I do hope one day a great director will meet a competent producer and they'll employ the finest actors and genius designers... and we'll finally see Dune come to life. Until then... horrible.
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