Mean Girls Revenge Part 2 – Dune (1984)

Troy was my second target for Mean Girls Revenge, as he helped instigate the meme-flinging.  I didn’t have to work very hard to get a movie for him, because he straight-up asked to borrow Dune.  When pressed for which version of Dune he would prefer, he asked for both, so I lent him both the 1984 movie (starring Sting, Kyle MacLachlan, and Patrick Stewart, Freddy Jones…) as well as the 2000 sci-fi channel mini-series (starring William Hurt).

As with Lindsay’s review of Labyrinth, I’ve provided Troy’s full review of the Dune 1984 movie below:

Dune 1984: Bigger roadblock than a 450 meter sandworm to series entry

My first viewing of Dune didn’t last long. A few minutes actually, until I realized that the 30 second monologue at the beginning introducing the main players was as much help as I’d get from the movie. The narrator also used this line: “Oh yes, I forgot to tell you” which really annoyed me more than it should have. I rewatched the intro several times to get a grasp on the faction and planet names, then I was off. There were no brakes on this crazy train.

The biggest setback of the movie is that it’s targeted at the expert level Dune community. The script throws alien, complex words at you and doesn’t seem to care if you understand or not. There isn’t much exposition and I was always 15 minutes behind the movie trying to piece together what I saw before with scenes that were currently happening. Perhaps a rewatch with subtitles or after seeing the mini-series might be a better experience but the initial viewing was a grind.

When introducing a universe that isn’t our own, many movies use the tried and true ignorant protagonist that learns the universe alongside the audience like Luke Skywalker or Neo from the Matrix. This type of storytelling helps the audience understand the settings, culture, conflicts and connect with the characters (decent cast by the way). While it’s fine for movies to deviate from this, they risk having their audience lost in dunes of confusion if the script isn’t crisp, focused and well edited. Spoiler: It’s not.

Following the brief opening, the movie introduces the most powerful species in the universe. After 4,000 years of using spice (a magic substance granting the ability to warp space that only exists on 1 planet for unexplained reasons), the “space guild navigators” have evolved into the peak form of….a scoop of peanut butter with eyes and a mouth that was dropped into a fish bowl. Not joking.

There were many immersion breaking moments for me that derailed any momentum the movie had built. Several scenes had audio that was cleared recorded post production but wasn’t edited correctly to sync with the actor’s mouths. Ok, yes, the movie is from 1984 but some green screen scenes were really bad. And the main villain was a floating Donald Trump who skipped his Dermatologist appointments. I couldn’t get past it.

The focus of the movie, Paul Atreides, was the messiah reborn who could turn his thoughts into fireballs and laser blasts. After a few trials and tribulations including some cool shield training scenes he reached MAXIMUM POWER and could read minds, control others actions with words, and ride giant sandworms that clearly wasn’t copied by Tremors in the way that one kid in class copies your homework and says he won’t make it obvious but changes 1 word.

Upon landing on the spice production planet Paul meets the outcast native chief’s daughter and tells her she’s the girl from his dreams and they’re destined to be together because Planet Arrakis is the only planet in the universe where that isn’t a creepy pickup line.

After winning the native Freemen’s trust/fear with his psychic explosions, Paul uses the army to destroy all of the spice production on the planet. 2 years goes by without anyone noticing the most valuable substance in the universe is missing before the emperor decides to send his armies. Clear winner for the WTF scene: Mom gives magic assisted birth to a barely developed fetus who has glowing blue eyes and psychic powers.

The psychic fetus, who is now inexplicably 6 years old, arrives out of nowhere to confront the Donald and the emperor of the universe. She’s dressed in an absurd outfit which you’d only see if someone had to make an emergency Halloween costume for their kid and wanted her to look like a cross between an evil nun and a pepper shaker. With blue eyes.

Paul arrives with his army (all riding sandworms of course) and an epic climactic battle of 3 minutes takes place. There is a brief 1v1 fight between Paul and Donald Trump Jr. but it’s poorly choreographed and filmed leading to a boring death for one of the more memorable characters.

The movie, making sure it doesn’t allow me 5 minutes of thinking I know what’s going on, closes with this line from the fetus-daughter: “And how can this be (the victory)!? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!!!” Roll credits.

Pros: Desert suits, shield training, giant worms, Mentat eyebrows

Meme-able moments: ~6

Confusion Level: XPRESS

Verdict: Off to my kitchen cabinet to try every spice until I have the power to understand this movie.

2/5 Partyin’ (on spice) parrots

I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw the 1984 Dune movie, but I think it was probably after I read the book the first time (which was my first year of middle school).  I remember thinking it was quite odd even then (and I wouldn’t come to apreciate Kyle MacLachlan until much later, but even then I thought he was awesome), but it was what I had if I wanted to see one of my favorite books on film.  When I’ve seen it more recently, it still holds that charm, and I enjoy it as a fan of the book and the movies of the time, but I can easily see that it’s certainly not for everyone.

If I were to say a few more words about one thing though, it would be the mentat eyebrows.  I’ve seen that satirized probably more than anything else from the film, and I have to admit, I’m actually okay with that.  They are amazing and distinctive in their own way, and though they get poked fun at, they’re still awesome.

Another facet of this movie that always catches me is the excellent cast.  Freddy Jones and Francesca Annis play my favorite couple in Krull, Patrick Stewart is always amazing, Kyle MacLauchlin plays Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks (a role I can’t help but love), Dean Stockwell was a major character in Quantum Leap, and, of course, Sting (who was probably doing this instead of Labyrinth).  I’m sure there are more if I were to IMDB some names, but they’re the ones that jump out at me just watching the movie.

For me, this version of Dune holds a special place, though I do consider the Sci-Fi channel miniseries to be superior in almost every way…  …That almost being the cast; it’s just not quite as good.

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