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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
David Lynch
Cast:
Kyle MacLachlan, Jose Ferrer, Max von Sydow, Linda Hunt, Sting, Francesca Annis, Brad Dourif, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan
Writing Credits:
Frank Herbert (novel), David Lynch

Tagline:
A world beyond your experience, beyond your imagination.

Synopsis:
Dazzling special effects, unforgettable images and powerful performances highlight David Lynch's stunning film version of Frank Herbert's classic science fiction epic about an intergalactic warrior's messianic rise. Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Jose Ferrer, Max von Sydow, Oscar winner Linda Hunt and Sting, Dune is the ultimate adventure experience that goes beyond the imagination.

Box Office:
Budget
$45 million.
Domestic Gross
$27.400 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0 (Theatrical Version Only)
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 137 min. (Theatrical Version) / 177 min. (Extended Version)
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 1/31/2006

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions
• “Deleted Dune” Featurette
• “Designing Dune” Featurette
• “Dune FX” Featurette
• “Dune Models” Featurette
• “Dune Wardrobe” Featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Production Notes


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Dune: Extended Edition (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 24, 2006)

As I recall, Dune hit movie screens in late 1984 with serious expectations attached to it. A big-budget adaptation of the successful Frank Herbert stories, Dune provided cult filmmaker David Lynch with his first shot at the commercial mainstream – and he whiffed. Dune got weak reviews and came up short at the box office.

I know that I saw the flick theatrically, but I honestly can’t remember my reactions to it. Did I enjoy it or did I dislike it? I have no clue. Over the last 21 years, it’s totally left my memory.

With this new DVD, I figured I’d give Dune a long-overdue second chance. The disc includes both the 137-minute theatrical cut as well as a 177-minute extended version. Despite controversy attached to it that I’ll discuss later, I went with the longer one since it’s the big attraction for fans.

Dune features a very convoluted story, so I’ll cut it down to the basics. Set in the year 10192, it concentrates on two warring clans: the House of Atreides and the House of Harkonnen. The movie follows their conflicts, especially as they relate to the planet Arrakis, a sandy world from which a vital spice comes.

We spend a lot of time with Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), the son of Duke Leto Atreides (Jurgen Prochnow). Paul seems to have some unusual powers and it looks like he might have a special purpose on Arrakis. We view the conflicts and his place as a potential savior for that arid world.

Lynch disowned the extended cut of Dune, so perhaps it suffers from fatal flaws not apparent in his theatrical version. I can’t help but wonder if the theatrical cut is superior just because I can’t imagine Lynch made a movie as tremendously bad as the extended Dune. A disaster from start to finish, I can narrow down the flick’s problems in three words: clunky, overwrought and campy. Those themes dominate this stinker and make it almost impossible to watch.

Dune is a mighty chatty flick – or a mighty thinky flick, I should say, since so much of its voiceover comes from thoughts. It seems afraid to let us figure out anything on our own, so the narration and voiceover makes sure it spells out everything. I understand this concept since the movie features such a dense story. However, it has the opposite effect in that it makes the film more awkward and less cohesive. Everything about it fails to integrate well and makes it clunky and stiff.

The hammy performances and staging sure don’t help. Every word is declaimed in over the top readings that quickly become laughable. The movie seems to view everything as life and death; I get the feeling these folks would blow a blood vessel simply by ordering a sandwich.

And then there’s the campiness. Who can forget the absurd sight of Sting in his loincloth? The utter seriousness with which the movie treats everything just turns it silly. I can’t care about any of this stuff because it comes across as so damned goofy.

Oddly, Dune seems too long and too short at the same time. It’s too long simply because it plods along and goes nowhere. However, it’s too short because it cuts corners and zips through issues it needs to explore. To fit into a feature film length, some points had to go and others were condensed, but the editing didn’t progress well.

And don’t even get me started on the lousy score by happily forgotten Eighties crap rockers Toto. I never read the Frank Herbert books, but I’d have to believe this film adaptation is a massive disappointment for anyone who did. There’s no way this wretched flick could live up to the work that inspired so many fans.

Against my better judgment, I gave the theatrical cut of Dune a look a couple of weeks after I watched the extended version (and wrote the comments above). While Lynch’s edit works better than the longer take, it still suffers from many of the same problems and it remains a bad movie.

The theatrical cut wins in the category of tightness. It focuses the story more concisely and doesn’t meander as much. This means it makes a little more sense, though some of those impressions may stem from the fact I already was familiar with the characters and events; inevitably, the movie would seem better structured because I’d already watched it once. Even when I factored in that issue, though, I thought Lynch’s cut was better delineated.

On the other hand, Lynch’s take loses some of the extended version’s depth. Clunky as the latter’s prologue and voiceover may be, at least they give us a better look at the bigger picture. The universe of the longer Dune is much better depicted, whereas the theatrical cut pares down the characters and situations to a considerably smaller realm. The extended Dune simply feels like it comes from a more diverse, varied setting.

Both remain too talky – or “thinky”, as I said, since they suffer from way too many lines that represent the thoughts of participants. The theatrical cut is just as overwrought and campy as the extended one, and most of the other flaws stay the same. At least Lynch’s version doesn’t look unfinished. The extended take is poorly constructed, shows incomplete visual effects, and reuses shots.

In the end, I can’t find a winner when I compare the two cuts. Both have relative strengths, but both still stink. If forced to watch Dune again, I’d pick the theatrical version, but that’s just because it’d waste less of my time.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Dune appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this double-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Because of all the added footage, I feared the transfer of the extended cut might be a mess. Happily, it usually looked very good.

Only a smidgen of softness ever interfered with the presentation. For the most part, the image was concise and accurate. Even wide shots depicted good definition. Some minor jagged edges and shimmering occurred, but I noticed no edge enhancement. As for source defects, occasional specks and marks popped up, usually in effects shots. Most of the movie seemed nicely clean, though.

Colors were restricted due to the film’s settings, but they proved solid nonetheless. The hues tended to be lively and dynamic within their constraints. Blacks were acceptably deep and tight, but shadows could seem a little murky. They never became weak, but they seemed a bit dense at times. Overall, though, I found this to be a solid transfer.

To my surprise, the visuals of the theatrical cut looked a little uglier than those of the extended version. I thought this situation would be reversed, as it seemed more likely the longer take would come from an inferior source. Instead, it was moderately superior.

Everything just seemed a little more off during the theatrical version. Definition was less consistent, as I noticed light softness at times. I saw a few more specks and marks, and colors tended to be a bit flat. Blacks lacked the same depth as well. This wasn’t a weak transfer, and I’d still give it a “C+”. However, it wasn’t a memorable image.

On the other hand, I thought both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film offered very similar audio. Only one issue kept the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Dune from “A” level: speech. Too many lines displayed excessive echo, and they could come across as reedy and stiff. Intelligibility occasionally suffered slightly, though I understood the vast majority of the lines.

Otherwise this track was a winner. Music kept to the background but seemed clear and true. Effects were very positive. They showed nice definition and vivacity, and they also boasted terrific bass response. Low-end was deep and firm throughout the movie. A little distortion came with some effects, but not enough to cause real problems.

The soundfield exceeded expectations for a film from 1984. It used all five speakers well and broadened the settings to good effect. The elements appeared in their appropriate places and meshed together well. Things moved cleanly and created a very involving soundscape throughout the film. I liked this mix and felt it deserved a “B+”.

Moving to the extras, we mostly find a mix of featurettes. Deleted Dune runs 17 minutes and 17 seconds and comes with an introduction from producer Raffaella De Laurentiis. She chats about the mythical four-hour cut of the movie as well as various trims.

As for the content of the deleted scenes, we get more of the talking head introduction from Princess Irulan (Virginia Madsen) that opens the theatrical cut. We also find exposition about the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, a chat about the prophecy between Leto and Thufir, similar content between Jessica and Shadout, and a mix of other bits that flesh out the story and themes. Many of these appear in the extended cut, but a few fresh ones pop up here. There’s nothing particularly compelling on display.

The next four featurettes look at technical areas. Designing Dune fills eight minutes, 53 seconds and includes movie shots, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from set designers Giles Masters, Steve Cooper and Kevin Phipps, illustrator Ron Miller and art director Benjamin Fernandez. They discuss working with Lynch, planning the sets and props, and actually building them. The program gives us a tight and informative view of these issues.

During the six-minute Dune FX, we get remarks from mechanical special effects creator Kit West, special effects floor chiefs Rodney Fuller and John Baker, special effects assistants Gary Zink and Trevor Wood, and special effects electronic unit chief John Hatt. They talk about various effects, both visual and practical. We see some good behind the scenes elements to illustrate the nuts and bolts aspects of the conversation. It mixes high tech with low for an entertaining piece.

Dune Models and Miniatures fills seven minutes, one second with comments from de Laurentiis, special effects coordinator Charles L. Finance, production coordinator Golda Offenheim, foreground miniatures Emilio Ruiz del Rio, model unit supervisor Brian Smithies and motion control operator Eric Swenson. It covers the design, creation and photography of these elements. It offers more nice details, all delivered with acceptable detail and good candor. I especially like the parts about those “blasted worms”.

Lastly, Dune Wardrobe goes for four minutes, 49 seconds. It features costume designer Bob Ringwood, assistant cutter Debbie Phipps, milliner Michael Jones, and suit head of construction Mark Siegel. As expected, they discuss the design and creation of the various costumes in the movie. The participants rip through various outfits rapidly but still manage a fair amount of information. Despite its brevity, this is a tight and informative piece.

A Photo Gallery offers 97 stills. It starts with a slew of production snaps, most of which show Lynch as he works with cast and crew. We also get many examples of concept art – so much, in fact, that those elements probably should have been placed in their own section.

Text material appears via Production Notes. Across 11 screens, these tell us about challenges related to the location shoot in Mexico. (Note that although the DVD case lists “Cast & Filmmakers” as an extra, I couldn’t find this anywhere on the disc.)

Dune features an epic story with aspirations to Biblical and Shakespearian traditions. Unfortunately, the execution of the flick is pure Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is a silly, choppy and awkward film that provokes plenty of unintentional laughs but little else. The DVD’s extended cut offers pretty solid picture and audio, and the set also presents some decent extras. The theatrical cut suffers from lower quality visuals but provides similar audio. Fans will want to snag this release, but I definitely can’t recommend this stinker to anyone else.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8888 Stars Number of Votes: 18
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