In the year 10,191, the world is at war for control of the desert planet Dune—the only place where the time-travel substance 'Spice' can be found. But when one leader gives up control, it's only so he can stage a coup with some unsavory characters.
What struck me from the very first second of watching Dune is that the movie opens the exact same way The Elephant Man ends, as if the two movies were, somehow, connected. But don't get your hopes high, the movie goes precisely in the other direction from its predecessor. Everything that was magnificent in The Elephant Man is being completely discarded and replaced by its opposite.
THE NON ELEPHANT MAN
The Elephant Man is a very focused and down the Earth movie with a very simple yet extremely powerful story. On the other side, Dune is so highly complex that the story is impossible to understand nor follow, there are no emotions, scenes are not built. This proves two things. First, that a great book does not translate automatically into a great film. Second, that producing a good science-fiction movie is not an easy task.
It takes precisely 40 minutes before we finally get to see some dunes. Don't expect great and fun scenes in the desert. On the contrary, most of the scenes are taking place inside, making the atmosphere extremely contrived.
But the movie is not totally wasted, of course. The sets and many costumes are quite remarkable. You can see the big budget and all the money being spent in each and every shot. There is no CGI green screen. Just real sets that, therefore, look and feel real. This is quite astonishing and you can see all the efforts that went into it. It is also extremely sad to see all these efforts in order to support a very bad film.
When talking about this film in his autobiography Room to Dream, David Lynch showed remarkably rare honesty in this industry. "Dune took three full years to make and it was a sellout from my part and a commercial disaster."
Lynch did not have the final cut on the film, but I do not believe that the film would have been good if he had had it.
At the end, I think the movie would have been much easier and fun if only focusing on the giant worm in the desert. No spaceship, no spice, no endless SiFi conversations. But the problem is that these scenes actually are extremely cheap. David Lynch is not a filmmaker for action scenes. With his slow attitude, he is a master at coming up with original ideas, but not to craft car chases – or worm chase in this case.
I give it 1 out of 10. Only the second industry feature from Lynch and already a complete disaster. Beyond bad.