Dune ★★★½

You know you're in for a rocky ride when a movie opens with a floating head narrator that drops a few chapters worth of exposition on you, starts to fade out, then fades back in and says, "Oh, I almost forgot" and proceeds with a few more chapters of exposition. And so goes nearly the first hour of Dune: Scene after scene of characters struggling to exist among a flurry of words. I'm not convinced giving Lynch any more power could have fixed this inherent problem with trying to adapt something as complex and nuanced as Frank Herbert's source novel. Ever watch an episode of Game of Thrones? Filmmakers are still struggling with how to weave complex mythologies and character relationship into filmed narratives even without the limitations of a feature film runtimes. The second half of the movie relies heavily on voiceover and montage, the seams pretty much on full display screaming, "Sorry, we thought we could make this shorter, but we couldn't so we're just gonna rush through this, okay?"

I loved DUNE as a kid, and I can't exactly say why, except that it looks cool and has giant worm monsters in it. When I finally read DUNE as a teenager I had the broad strokes down, but most of the finer details didn't stick with me from only watching the movie. But DUNE still looks cool. It's easy to ignore the inert drama in most of the first half when there's so many costumes and sets and practical effects to take in. And what a cast! These guys could literally read the phone book, and I'd enjoy watching it (someone get the Sensory Ethnography Lab on the horn, I just had an idea for their next project!) One gets the sense of what a David Lynch cut would be during certain shots that are just screaming to be held longer and not covered up with Toto's kind of dopey score. I'm thinking specifically of the brief slow motion shot of Alia holding a dagger and making a wild face just outside of the palace. I got chills, and then the shot was brutally cut short to keep the film moving... to no end.

In a way, this is David Lynch's weirdest movie.

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