MOVIE REVIEW | ***FLOP WEEK 2*** Dune (1984)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “There’s nothing interesting about his movie. Not even in a WTF, train wreck kind of way.”

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“Some thoughts have a certain sound, that being the equivalent to a form. Through sound and motion, you will be able to paralyze nerves, shatter bones, set fires, suffocate an enemy or burst his organs.”

Some movies are so notoriously bad, or flopped so bad on release, they don’t simply endure despite that notoriety, they thrive because of it. Edward D Wood Jr was too bad to be forgotten as a film maker, his legacy as the worst film maker of all time means his movies are just as infamous now, half a century later, as when they were first released. I don’t often seek these shit bombs out. I’d much rather spend my time genuinely enjoying a movie than ironically enjoying it. But I recently joined my local library, where, it turns out, you can borrow movies for free. And the first one I saw on the shelf was Dune. A notorious 80s shit bomb that I can’t ever imagine seeking out. But it was there, it was free, and I couldn’t be assed looking for anything better.


Thanks to an opening monologue delivered by some mole straight to camera, we learn all about this futuristic space world. Where alien races are all hopped up on some drug called the Spice. It can make people live forever, and even bend space, for instant, intergalactic travel. Cut to a voice over who explains the various planets, the races who inhabit them and their relationship with each other. Cut to a castle, with more voiceover (possibly from the initial camera addressing mole) telling us about the origins of main character and hero, Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan). This movie is 10 minutes and three scenes in, and it’s been nothing but clunky, convoluted exposition.

I’m not gonna pretend to have much of a clue about the plot of Dune. There’s a Galactic Emperor, he’s scared that some other bloke is going to usurp his power. Somehow the Spice mines on the desolate planet Dune are involved and Paul Atreides has prophetic nightmares about what’s to come. Also, Sting plays Feyd Rautha, a bad guy, I think.
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There’s nothing wrong with a movie being complicated. Dissecting a great movie and really working to get to the bottom of it often adds to the pleasure and appreciation. But the extent to which a movie can be complicated is in direct correlation to how interesting and compelling it is. Dune opens with a bombardment of context free information and no reason to give a shit about any of it. So this story might have eventually become as clear as day, but it lost my attention immediately and never regained it. I tried to lock in on the story and characters, I tried to figure out their motivations and desired end games, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care and my mind constantly wandered.

I’m no David Lynch disciple. I like most of the movies of his I’ve seen, I don’t love any of them. And even the ones I don’t understand, I usually find interesting. And I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who does weird for weird’s sake. I think everything makes perfect sense to David Lynch, even if it doesn’t always make sense to the audience. But there’s nothing interesting about his movie. Not even in a WTF, train wreck kind of way. And I don’t think the characters of Dune would even make sense to David Lynch.

Actually, Dune does have one but that is kind of amazing… Patrick Stewart, valiantly leading an army into battle, while cradling a pug.
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Dune
Directed By – David Lynch
Written By – David Lynch

Other Opinions Are Available. What did these people have to say about Dune?
Roger Ebert
The Atlantic
John Kenneth Muir

Budget $40million / U.S Box Office $31million
Instead of Dune, watch David Lynch take on something a little more sobering and restrained, and totally nail it, with The Elephant Man.

6 thoughts on “MOVIE REVIEW | ***FLOP WEEK 2*** Dune (1984)

  1. The studio that green lit this film with a notoriously loose script and an even looser director probably thought this was a brave decision. It turned out just to be just a really, really bad one. What a waste of time for the film makers. What an even greater waste of time for movie goers.

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