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Dune (Mini-Series) Review

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Dune (Mini-Series)
No version of a book as complex as Dune will ever be perfect

arizona1121, United States of America (Reviewer Ranking: 1) wrote this review on December 31, 2005:

I have read the entire Dune series. The characters and stories permanently entered my imagination. While I was disappointed with the Lynch version, I thought this one really and truly hit the bullseye, perhaps in large part because most of the actors are highly talented unknowns. Unable to rely on star power - with the exception of WIlliam Hurt, whose Duke Leto is subtle and cunning - the director in my viewing was freed to construct his own vision of the great novel.

The casting, I found, is exceptional and nearly perfect - a must with a story that, unusual for scifi, develops such interesting characters. Newman is a really great Paul, a brooding prophet who feels trapped by his destiny as a liberator and destroyer. His mother and Chani are also superb, played by beautiful and talented actresses who are not Paltrow-wannabee stick figures. Then there is Stilgar, who is portrayed by a German actor with incredible, though muted power, a true leader who can adapt to revolutionary change; the same can be said of Gurney Halleck. Finally, you could completely believe Giancarlo's emperor, whose arrogance is matched only by the decay of his empire. It was so refreshing to see this talent come to full flower. The only one I didn't think that good was the Baron Harkonnen, who came off as something of a caricature to me, laughing studiply at his deviousness in every scene.

Then there is the wonder of the setting, which the computer-generated scenary succeeds in evoking. At least for me, I could believe in what I was seeing and revel in the grand themes - so unique in scifi - of a messiah and revolutionary, of bursting the bounds of human possibility as defined by genetics and politics, of the unpredictable X factor in the spice and the worms as they influence humanity decisively.

I do not know, however, if this miniseries would succeed with those who did not read the book first. The ideas are so complex and recondite that I would recommend at least keeping the first novel handy, with the explanations in the appendix.

Warmly recommended for all serious fans of scifi. This is a superior product.

This mini-series' TV origins are evident in the sub-Playstation special effects, but the production uses its money where it counts most, in splendid sets and costumes. Apart from the stars, the cast are mostly East European character actors and their accents lend a nice sense of exoticism. Of course, the mini-series lacks the sheer visual splendour of David Lynch's flawed masterpiece, but it does explore the undercurrent of religious fanaticism on Dune much more effectively. Alec Newman, as Paul Atreides, also convinces on his journey from threatened fugitive to demi-god of the known universe.

Of course, there are the inevitable irritations. This version's cockney septuagenarian Gurney Halleck is no match for Patrick Stewart's wonderful grizzled warrior/poet. But then, we don't have to put up with Sting as Feyd Rautha. Sometimes the costumer veers too close to an Aladdin Christmas panto, and the stillsuits, so gorgeously flattering in the Lynch film, are simply rubbish. But the advantage of this version is that you can watch it with Dune newbies instead of the Lynch version knowing you won't have to be explaining what the devil is going on every 15 minutes.

No version of a book as complex as Dune will ever be perfect, not even in that alternate universe where Lynch's original 5hr 40min cut still exists. But this series is the most coherent and intelligible version we have. I ordered the sequel immediately.

Video Rating: 7777777777
Audio Rating: 8888888888
Extras Rating: 5555555555
Movie Rating: 9999999999
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