The movie is quite lengthy but it hits all of the major plot points. The special effects are ok but nothing to write home about, except for the guild navigator folding space part. This was exceptionally well done.
If you are a sci-fi fan, watch this movie. If you're a Dune fan, you need to watch this movie right now! :)
Anyway, this is the second major adaptation of Dune and it's both better and worse than the 1984 version. It's better in that there's none of the WTF Lynchian moments (milking a cat? Feyd Rautha's codpiece? Harkonnen's pustules?) and being a mini-series it is able to pace itself better. The problem is everything else. The acting is indifferent and removed, the CGI makes the world of Arrakis feel fake and insubstantial and there's just nothing remotely exciting in there. It's an honest adaptation, but it barely caught my attention while it ran in the background.
**2014 date in the description is a mistake**
Dune is a grand science-fiction store, a tale of power and greed between family houses over control of the universe's greatest resource: the spice. Film/TV adaptations have been scattered, each taking on the challenging material of the novel, and while many attempts were made over the years, Lynch's adaptation of Dune in 1984 was the first and most well known. While it got mixed reviews, I thought it was well casted, visually and set design-wise well done, and it tells the story well. My issues with it however was that it felt greatly condensed and one of the most important story arcs with the Fremens was very rushed. The film ultimately got the whole story across, but at some expense, felt too paced and left some details out which sparked some confusion as a result of Universal's runtime restriction. Overall, it was still a fairly good film.
This miniseries which was released in 2000 was the 2nd adaptation of the Dune story. While I felt I admired Lynch's version for its cast, music score, and set designs, this miniseries delivered the greatest advantage possible: a 4h 30min runtime that allows the story enough space to pace itself without condensation or any rushing. Without having read that book, I can't say what's been left out/included and I have heard from many fans that a proper film adaptation would have to clock in at even more than the miniseries long runtime, so its easy to say the miniseries improves greatly with the extended runtime. The only expense with the miniseries is that it doesn't have the epic music score, and its visual effects are quite cheap and almost terrible looking in some shots, you'll find its up and down, some effects look good (only considering early 2000 television standards) while some just look downright bad. In this day and age though, the effects all together barely hold up at all. It is and isn't distracting.
To go into more detail and repeat what I've said, the miniseries fleshes out the story to its ultimate potential, and even if it still did cut stuff from the book (which I wouldn't know), it still expanded the story greatly compared to Lynch's version. With this, the story and what's going on ultimately becomes clearer and some characters that were hacked to a minimal screen time in Lynch's version are now featured more dominantly here including the Princess Irluan and Paul Atreide's love interest Chani. Best of all, the Fremen arc which I felt was the story arc most butchered in Lynch's version (not his fault) gets about 2 hours worth of screen time, fleshing out so much more than ever before. It's all well done, the performances are well, the story is more satisfying and rewarding, the action is cool, and Herbert's deeply philosophical and psychological sci-fi story is brought into a new light, its a great experience, and I felt the need to watch the whole miniseries straight through, it was just that satisfying.
Is this the perfect Dune adaptation? Sadly, it's not quite. Lynch's version had great production values and the better cast, but the story suffered to a condensed runtime. This miniseries fleshes out the story much better and has a decent cast, with some good action and well told story elements, well established relationships, and some occasionally good production values, but at the same time some of its production values are cheap and hideous, the music score is a bit bland, and... wow, I have to say this... its a bit long. I don't think its that I'm hard to satisfy, literally Lynch's version was too short, this miniseries was a bit long... rewarding for sure, but a bit long. I think 3-3 1/2 hours is more appropriate. Forget about having the film include everything from the book, because that rarely happens. You need a film adaptation that can at least give you all the story you need with the proper build-up at a proper pace, and I think a runtime between that of the 1984 film and 2000 miniseries would work best.
Here's hoping that an extraordinary filmmaker out there will adapt this story once again in the future. I really like both Lynch's film and this miniseries, all with their ups and downs, and I see them as an exercise towards something greater. We've learned from how each of them have adapted the material, and so I look forward to seeing someone else build upon it and make the ultimate Dune film adaptation. The technology is better, and there's so much potential. Make it happen!
The theatrical stage effects, such as dropping the lighting and turning on a spot light, do create a startling contrast to the other CGI effects in the film, shocking you out of the story and reminding you that you are watching a performance. The acting by Ian McNeice as the Baron Herkonnen is a bit over the top at times, and his use of rhyme is a bit of an annoyance. Despite all of this, however, I absolutely loved this film. To be sure, perhaps because it's length allows it to develop the story and the characters much more fully, it completely blows David Lynch's version of Dune out of the water - and I am a David Lynch fan. This is one of those novels that I keep meaning to read, but have not yet managed to get around to. But if this film is only half as good as the novel, I definitely need to read it. All in all, this film is definitely worth buying (preferably in the "director's cut" version). (A)
In 2000 Sci-Fi Channel adapted the same opening book into a five hour miniseries. The project was helmed by director John Harrison backed by a big-for-TV budget. The result is a visually extravagant and experimental drama with a grandiose scope. I watched it all in one sitting and was completely engaged throughout the experience.
Harrison has reached a unique and beautiful tone with a magnificent visual look and dramatic music and the actors do for the most part solid work. Alec Newman doesn‚(TM)t quite have the charisma of a messianic character, but the script doesn‚(TM)t give him as much to work with as one might have hoped.
The characters overall are left a bit distant, the situations coldly surreal. I found myself preoccupied by the look and the tone and not horribly engaged with the story and the drama itself. The plot moves forward painfully slowly at times, but there are so many wonderful details to enjoy that it‚(TM)s almost worth it. And as is the case with the source material, the religious and political themes are universally relevant and well presented, even though we experience them on a rather large scale, removed from the experience of the characters.