A good tale, but told too quickly

Main Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Jurgen Prochnow, Kenneth McMillan, Sean Young
Director: Alan Smithee

Plot Summary: Three great powers fight over the mining planet of Dune. A young man appears on the scene who may lead the miners into freedom and power.

My little summary is a pale ghost of what exactly goes on during this very compacted movie. You know something is wrong when the dreaded “Alan Smithee” appears as the director. Originally directed by David Lynch, at some point during the process of transferring to DVD Mr. Lynch decided to take his name off the project. AS is a fictional director who has some pretty bad movies under his belt. But, like Uwe Boll, he continues to find loose money from hopeful investors.

Okay. The plot? Another danger sign: during the first reel we have the dreaded voice-over, where a narrator frantically tries to squeeze in about two hundred pages of history into ten minutes. Names, dates, and places whiz by, admittedly with lovely drawings and visuals. I’ll try to be even more brief: the Emperor of the Galaxy, the alien transportation experts, and two leaders of two planets all have designs on one planet, Dune, where a mystical substance is mined for fun and profit.. especially profit.

Thankfully the action focuses on one person: Paul Atreides (MacLachlan), a young prince. His father, the Duke (Prochnow), is warring with Baron Harkonnen (McMillan), the leader of another planet. Paul goes to the planet Dune, which was given over to his father to look after. But the Baron has a spy within the Atreides camp, and soon the Baron’s forces are breaking through and routing the Atreides forces. The Duke is killed, and Paul swears revenge.

He gets help from the natives, who are more powerful than anyone realizes. He falls for Chani (Young), and soon learns that he may be the Chosen One, sent to Dune to lead the people to victory over the outsiders. Yes, this is a religious/spiritual tale, as well.

As for the movie itself, it is much like this review. I’ve spent so much time trying to explain and/or cram names, dates, and situations into a small area that I’m overwhelmed. I felt like that watching the movie, which even at six hours might not be enough. I just don’t think the story can be told in such a short amount of time. Some books are simply not suited to the silver screen, and this may be one of them.

But what is up there is not horrible. The actors do what they can, and I can sense that with more time the characters could be interesting and fleshed out. But for now things move along breathlessly, with people making cameos and disappearing, never to return. It is a good tale, but should be told much more slowly. I could possibly recommend this one, with reservations. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. It could give Dune fans enough entertainment for a few hours, but for those of us who don’t know the book, it’s confusing and ultimately unsatisfying.

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