3/10 When David Lynch’s “Dune” was released in 1984, Lynch was given the impossible task of turning a nearly 800-page book into a two-hour movie. Due to having to condense so much content, the movie failed both commercially and critically. I watched it for the first time before viewing this and it was very Lynchian (aka weird), confusing and rushed. The folks over at the Sci-Fi Channel, now SYFY, thought Frank Herbert’s sprawling novel would be better suited as a three-part miniseries, told over four and a half hours. While the medium was far more appropriate than a two-hour movie, “Dune” ultimately falls flat due to the massive restrictions of a made for TV series back in 2000 and special effects that have aged horribly. Before we get into why this series fails, I will begin with what worked. Having four and a half hours to tell this story was definitely the right call and the creative talent behind this series have some breathing room to develop characters and the plot, including subplots. Some of the production design was well done, the score was solid and William Hurt gives a strong performance as Duke Leto Atreides. Splitting the series into three hour and a half long episodes made watching this series a breeze and this series didn’t have the confusing elements that Lynch’s movie had. I will also commend some of the cinematography and particularly the lighting, which was easily one of the strongest aspects. It is rare for a film or series to make you notice color and lighting but the use of blue, red and green may not have been super subtle, but it was well utilized. Despite these positive aspects, this series largely falls flat. With a $20 million budget, there simply was not nearly enough money in the budget for visual effects. To put things into perspective, the upcoming Denis Villeneuve “Dune” adaptation has a budget of $165 million, sparing no expense. So this 21-year-old miniseries has aged horrendously with the visuals/green screen looking like something from a PlayStation video game. The costumes were so cheesy and over the top that I found myself laughing out loud at how ridiculous and impractical characters appeared. A lot of the actors gave mediocre to bad performances and Ian McNeice as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen was so over the top that he was literally floating. Alec Newman plays Paul Atreides, our main protagonist but I never felt he had the screen presence or gravitas to play such a pivotal figure. Speaking of Paul, the character was all over the place in terms of development. He starts off as an annoying wimp, becomes a hero but then turns into an egotistical jerk who fancies himself a God. For the good guy who we are supposed to be rooting for the entire time, he sure annoyed me for most of the series. The action looked terrible and reminded me of the original “Battlestar Galactica” from the 1970s. Despite a valiant effort to give the source material the right amount of time to breathe, the made for TV cheesiness coming from the studio most famous for making “Sharknado” movies, “Dune”, like Lynch’s adaptation, was doomed from the start. If you are a die-hard “Dune” fan or you are like me and needs to watch every iteration before seeing the latest film, then feel free to watch with extremely low expectations. For the casual TV fan, there is nothing for you here but a reminder why Sci-Fi will never be taken seriously as a film/TV studio.
#Paulitics / #BehindBlueEyes / #TheHerosGurney / #ShootForTheDune / #DukeIAmYourGrandfather / #LowCostInSpace

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