Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dune: Theatrical Version and Extended Edition

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Dune:  Theatrical Version - 3 out of 5
Dune:  Extended Edition - 2 out of 5 

Where would sci-fi be without bald women?
Where do I begin?  I've always had a passing interest in everything Dune.  And I mean that I only like the sandworms in the story.  I've never really been a fan of Frank Herbert's novels because, to me, they've always represented the pretentious aspect of science-fiction.  Dune always embodied the arrogant nerd who believes that nothing anyone else does or enjoy as a nerd/geek/dweeb is ever nerdy enough/geek enough/dweeby enough for them.  Not to mention that when I read the novels, I could almost sense Herbert's own false sense of superiority doused in every page, like he had somehow wrote the greatest sci-fi story of all time.  The stories were always overly complicated, the characters are way too over-the-top and the world he created just feels fake.  In fact, the worlds he crafted always gave me the sense that one could live in them but couldn't touch anything because it would either break, crumble or possibly unbalance the delicate nature of these creations.  It's like your grandmother's living room.  The whole place is pristine.  You can't wear shoes because you might ruin the carpet and you're afraid to even enter the room because you might accidentally brush up against one of the hundreds of glass knickknacks that feel like they cover nearly every single square inch of the area. 

Ah, the sandworms...the only thing I actually like in Dune.

However, David Lynch's film adaptation of Dune holds a special place in my heart.  A special place because the movie is an outright disaster to watch.

In the future, people fight inside jello molds.

You feeling alright, man?
If you never knew it, an adaptation of Dune sat in development hell for years before Lynch entered the picture.  What would follow would become a cinematic piece of shit that even Lynch himself has openly admitted that he dislikes thoroughly.  Dune is such a mess, that I can't help but love it and enjoy watching it.  The story, like the novels, are overly complicated (needlessly when you realize the story is very simplistic) and it was so bad when it arrived in theaters, that some cinemas actually gave out cheat sheets for viewers so they don't get lost.  In fact, if you haven't read the novel, you'd be struggling to keep up with what the hell is going on--and if you've ever seen a David Lynch film, you already know it's hard enough to keep up with what on Earth is going on.  So, since you have to already have read the novel to have a grasp at what is unfolding on the screen, I feel like it would be a pointless gesture to try and sum up the film--However, like I said, the story is actually pretty simple and Herbert tried, in all his pretentious glory, to make it more complicated than it needed to be.  Here's the story:  There is a spice that is important because it bends space and is required for space travel.  So, to quote the film, whoever controls the spice, controls the universe.  Sure there is other things going on and a bunch of unlikeable characters giving lots of inner monologues (if you like hearing people's thoughts, you should probably watch this movie) but at the heart of the film, it's about getting your hands on this precious, precious spice...also there's the sandworms.

David Lynch making a cameo.

See, I didn't lie about that.
Now, I'll admit this, I'm a David Lynch fan.  The man has...a very unique eye (and that's putting it mildly).  Sure he makes some movies I absolutely hated (like Mulholland Dr. and Blue Velvet) but I'm a big fan of Twin Peaks and Eraserhead.  There is a charm I love in the insanity he is able to toss up on to film and I think the fact that Lynch has written off this one and said he "sold out" making it somehow makes me enjoy this film even more.  There's a delight in bad movies but to have a bad movie's director come out and say he hates it too makes the delight even more enjoyable.  In fact, David Lynch hated the Extended Edition (the one that is the edit used for TV) so much, he refused to have his name put on the film and used the old pseudonym Alan Smithee to distance himself from the project.  In fact, Lynch was so upset with the studio's interference with the film, that he credited himself as Judas Booth for the writing credit.  He combined Judas with John Wilkes Booth to show how horrible the studio was to him and how they destroyed the movie he was trying to create.  I guess that name is better than his original idea:  Adolf Satan.

I was telling the truth here, too.  Why do you doubt me so?

"I am Brad Dourif.  I was the voice of Chucky.
Fear my eyebrows."
Now, I've already said that Dune is just a mess of a movie and that's why I like it.  However, after seeing the Extended Edition for the first time (I've never watched Dune when it's televised), I realized it was absolutely possible to take a bad movie and actually make it worse--and it actually made it bad in the fact it's terrible, not bad as in the badness makes it fun to watch.  The Extended Edition, to help confused audience members, narrates nearly the entire movie and opens with the silliest prologue ever filmed.  The film opens with pictures of really bad paintings of the world of Dune that look like rejected sci-fi novel covers and the narrators basically gives you the history of the universe.  Now, the Theatrical Version opened with a young Virginia Madsen filling you in on the happens but it's a little more direct and to the point than the history lesson you get in the Extended Cut.  But the narration won't stop at the begin.  Whenever there is silence in the film or a montage, the narrator will return to help out those who don't really understand what montages are or who are plain just not paying attention to the film and can't pick up plot points carefully placed within the dialogue.

"You ask David Lynch to help you move once and you're in his debt for life.  'Sure, I'll do another movie for you, Dave.'"

"Someday I will be in a decent sci-fi franchise.
I will make it so....hmm, make it so.  That's got
a certain ring to it."
Dune is just an all around silly film that I enjoy for the wrong reasons--except the Extended Edition, I can't emphasize enough how bad that one sucked.  I never watched the movie because I enjoy the story or the characters--in fact, I can't think of a single character I like in it.  Sure there are actors I enjoy in it like Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks and Desperate Housewives) who plays Paul Atreides but the character of Paul is laughable the entire film as he goes on his typical sci-fi hero's journey and matures, falls in loves and becomes a savior in record time, like he's trying to get it all in before he has to get to his doctor's appointment.  There's a whole host of great actors working here like Jurgen Prochnow, Patrick Stewart, Brad Dourif, Dean Stockwell and even David Lynch himself has a cameo but each character played are just ridiculous--but when you consider the source material...I'm just saying.  And Sting has a part, apparently he took a break from telling Roxanne about the red light and having tantric sex long enough to do a movie.  Like I said, I've never been a fan of Dune, however, the movie, with its history of fails that came with its making and release, and the end product we got was just awful enough, that I love to watch this one.

Let's put some pants on, eh Sting?  I'm having a hard time looking you in the eye right now.

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