“Dune”: the beginning of the end

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There are few who truly understand the purpose of a remake. It seems every other month we see a beloved movie remade by executives to squeeze out every last dollar they can from a nostalgic franchise.

However, Dune was a perfect candidate for a remake..The point of a remake (as far as cinema is concerned) is to improve a film that is in need of improvement. The original Men in Black (1997) did not need a remake. Likewise, Star Wars did not need a sequel that essentially functioned as a remake. Hell, I’d say the original Jumanji (1995) is tarnished by its remake. These were all great films to begin with, so why bother making them again?

Dune needed a remake for two main reasons. Firstly, the original film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune was a massive disappointment. David Lynch is a great director, but he was the wrong man for the job. His 1984 version suffers from a rushed plot, bizarre visuals, boring characters and a litany of other issues. It is the type of film that could  be improved upon by a remake.

While we are all familiar with Star Wars and Star Trek, there hasn’t  been a third iconic space adventure movie series. Dune separates itself from its contemporaries. It has a  stronger focus on mythology and legend, the plot is much more soap operatic and the universe of Dune resembles our own  in terms of relevant issues. There is a lot of potential for Dune to be amazing. So, how was the Dune remake?

The best thing I can say about the Dune remake (from now on I’ll refer to the remake as ReDune for simplicity’s sake) is that its environment and special effects are more enjoyable. In the 1984 version of Dune there are some okay set pieces but none of them  wowed me.

In ReDune the scale of everything is  more grand. This grandness  combined with some professional looking cinematography makes the elements of the story feel more important. It makes the universe feel real and grounded. Buying into the story of the film is a piece of cake.  While Dune had some fun miniatures, it also had some of the most horrid visual effects I’ve seen.

In ReDune the visual effects are less distracting. A notable example of this is the shields being transformed from a clunky Minecraft-esque object to a subtle and nifty gadget. The action scenes flow more seamlessly in ReDune, whereas its contemporary’s action choreography wouldn’t have felt out of place in an old Adam West Batman short. 

What I feel most conflicted about is one of the first things you see in ReDune: ‘Part 1’. Perhaps the tagline of the film ‘It Begins’ should’ve been a hint,but did audiences know this going in? It feels disingenuous that the film’s title doesn’t include any indication of a future sequel. I’m not conflicted by the lack of indication about the sequel, but I am conflicted about the decision to divide up the story in the first place. To those who are unaware, the entirety of ReDune is only the first act of the original Dune.

That being said, I can understand the studio’s thought process. The original Dune felt  rushed despite clocking in a run time  over two hours. There wasn’t enough time for relationships and characters to develop, nor for the weight of their actions to fully be explored. ReDune is even longer at two and a half hours and only covers a third of the material.

Personally, I enjoyed this decision, insofar as it makes the entirety of the film  more cohesive. On the other hand, ReDune suffered from the old boring scene syndrome. While there’s plenty of action, there is also a lot of time spent listening to the characters talking; scenes that many would deem boring. I think that this may be ReDune’s toughest obstacle in connecting with general audiences. You can have as much character development, exposition and interesting set pieces as you want; it all means nothing if audiences get bored. 

Unfortunately, the only other notable thing about ReDune is how unremarkable everything else is. I think the film was well cast, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by any of the performances. One thing that the original Dune did better was the music. I can honestly say that I can’t remember any of the scores from ReDune. The costumes were  bare-bones (at least compared to the original) and the script, while fully functional, wasn’t too interesting.

Overall, I’m left feeling conflicted about ReDune. It was the perfect candidate for a remake and better than the original in many ways. However, with the general lack of an X factor and knowing that a sequel is in the works, I don’t think I’d ever choose to watch this film again. I’ve pointed out the best parts of ReDune and said the best things I could say.  Now it’s time for the worst thing I could say: I don’t think I’ll remember anything about this film by the time its sequel rolls around.

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