2008 Worst Film Week Movie Review Worst Film Weeks

Movie Review – Dune


Celebrating the Worst Films of All Time, fernbyfilms.com brings you another in the list of possibly the cruddiest movies you’ll ever see…. perhaps, though, you should take our advice and never glance upon these celluloid travesties…. EVER! You have been warned!!!


Dune came out in 1984, directed with much celebration by “hot” property at the time, David Lynch. After success with cult films Eraserhead and The Elephant Man, much was expected from Lynch for the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s genre-defining novel. Success, however, would be lost with this film; touted as the next Star Wars by the films producers, instead, it became a quagmire of production hassles, directorial and producer clashes and ultimately, audience confusion.

To say that Dune is perhaps the least accessible sci-fi film ever made is to discount Steven Soderberg’s recent remake of Solaris, but for it’s time, Dune was a horrendous film to enjoy. Filled with gory, violent sequences that made audiences squirm, as well as incomprehensible plotting and scripting, Dune became the largest cinematic failure of 1984. Now, looking back on it with fond reminiscence, is Dune really as bad as it seemed at the time?

To be honest, it’s worse.

Dune manages to defy comprehension, simply with a script that doesn’t allow an audience to understand what was going on, and some of the most repugnant characters ever put on screen. Sting lost his sting the day he appeared in this trash, with absolutely no ability to act whatsoever. Kyle Maclachlan, appearing in his first film role, is perhaps better than the material allows, however he’s hamstrung severely by heavy-handed direction and a complete debacle of a script. Not even an appearance by an embarrassed Patrick Stewart (who would go on to play Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation) can save the day. Overly languid direction, coupled with a seemingly pornographic desire to show gore, sputum and slime, make Dune an extremely slow show, lacking in character or appeal. Simply, it’s depressing!

And considering the film’s budget, you’d think the effects would be better! Star Wars, which came out almost a decade earlier, had far superior visual effects, making Dune one of the worst examples of top-tier film-making to come out of Hollywood in many years. The story was remade years later as a TV mini-series, to much acclaim. However, there will forever be a blight on Herbert’s sci-fi masterpiece: and that is this awful, turgid, tripe.

Avoid Dune at all costs.


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  1. I completely concur. After years of loving the Dune 2 computer game I had reasonable hope that the original film would be good. A story completely lacking in cohesiveness and some of the most ghastly special effects I'd seen in a long time, particularly the sand worm! "Look… over there… on the floor… broken in pieces… … my expectations."

  2. Yeah, I have agree. Playing the Dune computer game series gave many people such high hopes. Actually I believe the in game cinematics were better in the game Emperor: Battle for Dune than in this movie.

  3. Wow.

    I could write a thesis on the subject of this film, auteur Lynch and subsequent career notwithstanding. The books alone were very nearly insurmountable as the building blocks for a feature length film, to translate the diverse and often convoluted worlds of Herbert’s future-scape surely would have driven even the most talented filmmaker to the brink of emotional collapse. Add in the fact that while Lynch was placed at the helm of the ship he had a great many masters to serve both in terms of the producing team (Dino De Laurentiis and Raffaella De Laurentiis) and nearly 1,700 crew members. There were 80 sets built upon 16 sound stages and the film took more than 6 years to make of which David Lynch devoted 3 ½ years of his life to.

    I can't say that I'm surprised that Dune would find itself on a list of bad movies, given the horrendous budget disasters and production mishaps, the public disagreements and verbal fisticuffs between Lynch and the producers, etc., etc., etc. I would argue against classifying it as the worst of the worst in any genre from any director, but I'm not here to champion the cause of David Lynch any more than I am going to attempt to dissuade people from their opinion of the film. Simply put, it did not reach people and at times the complexities of the plot were never fully realized in a meaningful way for mainstream audiences. For every misstep, however, I might counter with bold and cinematic achievements, with stunning details and at times engaging and nuanced performances. Where Dune ultimately comes undone is the resulting collision of director and producer(s). The film was cut numerous times and at one point Lynch removed his name from the production altogether. He still refuses to discuss the project and has repeated turned down requests to revisit the film with an expanded DVD treatment.

    Interesting comments and comparisons to the game. I haven't anything to add on that front.

    • Excellent comment, Rory, and I heartily agree with them. One day I'd like to sit down and watch the most recent TV series version of Herbert's story (which starred, I believe, William Hurt?) and see just how well it translates to the screen. The problem with Dune and it's sequels/prequels is that it's not a story that lends itself well to a single feature film: the concepts and narrative of the book was always going to be problematic. Hopefully the TV series allows for a greatly expanded canvas with which to bring this excellent series to life in a way that does it justice.

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Never blessed with a body worthy of a porn star, nor being the heir to a wealthy industrialists fortune, nor suffering the tragedy of having his parents murdered outside a Gotham theater, Rodney is, contrary to popular opinion, neither Ron Jeremy, JD Rockefeller, or Batman. As a serious appreciator of film since 1996, Rodney's love affair with the medium has continued with his online blog, Fernby Films, a facility allowing him to communicate with fellow cineasts in their mutual love of all things movie.

Movie Review – Dune

by Rodney Twelftree
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