on April 28, 2010
While everyone else has been waiting for AVATAR or LOTR (and yes I bought both of those and LOVE them), I've been holding my breath to watch DUNE in all its highdef glory. After watching this bluray disc, I feel like I've seen half of the film in HD and the other half in fair quality SD. I THINK I know what I'm talking about here . . . I saw this film 3 times in the original theatrical run, then bought the video tape in the Beta format, shortly thereafter replacing it with my first VHS copy of the film. Next came the LaserDisc (sadly a pan and scan version) then another vhs (from TV) of the "extended version". Shortly before the death of VHS, Universal released a Widescreen VHS version and then came the first, non-anamorphic DVD. Most recent is the steelbook anamorphic DVD release that also included the extended version as well as deleted scenes and short documentary materials. I still own them all and I'm happy to say that this new bluray release is the best DUNE has ever looked in a home video format . . . but I expected way more.
The GOOD STUFF: Many scenes have a great deal of the HD pop, and as soon as Princess Irulan begins her opening monolog the difference in PQ from previous releases is apparent. Things stay looking pretty good until we get to Geidi Prime (Home of House Harkonnen) and then things look SPECTACULAR. After hundred of viewings of this film, I noticed details I had not seen before! There are MANY impressive looking scenes in this new edition and the all important "water of life" sequence and the final battle and the end scene in the Hall of Rites all look stunning and nearly three dimensional. They are gorgeous.
THE BAD STUFF: Dirt, specks, lines, threads, all sorts of debris on the print show up FREQUENTLY and they ARE distracting. There is also significant fade damage on the right side of the print in several of the "Paul meets the fremen" sequences and the "Paul trains the fremen and blows up a big pyramid" sequences. This damage has been apparent on EVERY widescreen edition of the film Universal has put out and while it does look a little better on this edition (as if they tried to do something about it) it is still there. Certainly all of the specks and dirt (some small, others the size of footballs) could have been removed through digital means but Universal didn't bother with it. Black levels are not the best either and skin tones are all over the place, with the Baraon appearing very pink in every scene while Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam is consistently yellow. There is some noticeable grain at times but I can put up with that. It is the frequent dirt and debris I object to.
The DTS-HD sound is pretty good for the most part and there was a lot of great wind blowing from my rear speakers during the majestic opening title music. The roar of the worms gave my subwoofer a good pounding as did the scene where Paul plants the thumper but often the sound was a bit harsh and unconvincing. I suspect this is the fault of the original source and I suspect Universal has done the best they could with this soundtrack.
THE EXTRAS: LESS than what was included in the 2005 DVD release! Most importantly the extended version (flawed though it is) is not included here. I guess they know DUNE fans will double dip when they re-release this disc with that version. Also not included is the beautiful photo gallery. The theatrical trailer is nowhere to be found here either and none of the printed material from either the DVD original release or the booklet from the 2005 release is included. There is however plenty of advertisement from the UNIVERSAL BD LIVE TICKER trying to sell you stuff (it has to be manually turned off every time). If you turn this feature off, which plays OVER THE (ugly and generic) MAIN MENU, you will be treated to the message that you can no longer access their wonderful BD LIVE features (which consist of absolutely NOTHING but advertisements) because you are not connected to the internet! The rest of the extra material from the 2005 release is presented here in "fullscreen" format in SD, so all of the cool deleted scenes will be window boxed. The disc was also rather slow and clunky to load taking a full three minutes to get to the feature film.
The entire presentation of this release seems very half-hearted to me. I DO like the cover art (the same from the 2005 release) and at least the keepcase isn't one of those garbage eco cases. The disc itself looks entirely generic with no artwork whatsoever. Maybe I am expecting too much for an older catalog title but I've seen so many even older titles look so much better on blu ray than this thing does.
Universal seems to have spent far more time finding ways to advertise itself and the bluray format than bothering with the release of a top notch catalog title. Come on, if they are going to tell me on the front cover and the back cover that I am buying a PERFECT picture, then at least don't sell me something that has this many imperfections all over it. I have actually seen a few bluray discs that I thought lived up to their "perfect" hype but this disc isn't one of them. Not by a long shot.
...it makes me wonder what was taking them so long. I can only imagine that it was a legal issue.
Now that's it here, however, I am horrendously disappointed. The previous review claims that it's "remastered?" Well, the sound may have been "mixed" into a 5.1 sound field (and badly done at that), but the picture is still in the same horrific condition as the ORIGINAL DVD release.
You don't have to look any further then the Guild ship landing at the beginning of the movie. Look at the lower left-hand side of the screen and watch the inexplicable shadow artifacts that keep fading in and out...as if the original film were compromised. No, it's not one of those "oh, you really have to look close" things, either; it's actually annoyingly, painfully obvious!!
You don't even have to go THAT far to look for transfer problems!! Look at the Universal logo on the opening reel and "oooooo" and "ahhhhhh" at the dust specks and scratches on the film.
ALL THIS TIME, and it's for a film that sports a couple of docs, an extended edition that STILL doesn't have completed effects (you can tell where some of the deleted scenes are without knowing the film that well - the Fremen's eyes aren't colored in), and a release that goes the extra mile to be as cheap as possible by sporting a DOUBLE-SIDED DISC to cut down on manufacturing costs.
If you've already seen the extended release shown on the Sci-Fi channel, base your decision to buy this based on your feelings towards what was shown there because there is no difference here.
5 stars for the movie; 1 star for this release and for Universal making Dune fans froth at the mouth after many inexplicable delays...for no good reason at all.
on February 17, 2003
A beginning is a very delicate time. In 1984, the long awaited film version of Frank Herbert's epic novel Dune came to the silver screen. What happened next? The worst box office disaster in history! Sad to say it, but mostly everyone who saw Dune hated it except for the few who actually read the book! I've always loved this movie but if I ever said that in public I was usually beaten with large rocks or a baseball bat. This review isn't really about the story of the film or it's direction. Its about the confusing truth of their actually being two editions of the 1984 film version of dune.
Now here is where the entire true purpose to this review comes in. Many may wonder, "why was I watching this on Sci-Fi channel and the director was Alan Smithee instead of David Lynch?" Well little Jimmy, the answer is complicated. David Lynch knew when he made Dune he was in trouble and cut the film down incredibly to make it fit the desired time limit. Lynch was slightly pleased with this cut of the film and hoped that that would be the last he would have to do with it... Wrong!
A few years when Dune finally was on TV, a special edition version was prepared containing an HOUR of extra footage. A new narration covers the film and practically spells out every bit of information to the audience this time. The studios were ready to show it when suddenly David Lynch says "Woa woa, I liked it the way it was!" and refuses to have credit for this new longer version. The studio then takes out Lynch's name and replaces it with the fake Alan Smithee who doesn't exist. With me so far?
The version of Dune available on DVD and VHS is the David Lynch version which in my opinion actually works better than the longer version. It cuts to the chase and doesn't drag as badly as Smithee's version does. For those of you who have never seen the Alan Smithee version, its not available to buy but it's shown on the Sci-Fi channel twice a year so there you go!
So, even though critics bombed it, audiences hated it, and David Lynch disowned the longer version, I still love this movie for some mysterious reason! If you're the type who likes weird artistic movies like 12 Monkeys, 2001, or Blade Runner, you will probably enjoy this. Also anime fans, this is right up your alley! For all you other people, get the hell out of here!
p.s. Toto's score is a masterpiece! Yea... of all bands... Toto...
on October 7, 2000
This movie was panned by audiences and critics alike when its highly-anticipated release occurred in 1984, and since then it has become one of the legendary "bad films" of Hollywood (think "Heaven's Gate" or "Ishtar"). But the fact remains, DUNE simply doesn't deserve this treatment, as evidenced by its steadily growing popularity over the years. Misunderstood in 1984, DUNE is more and more being appreciated for the magnificent film that it is. It was ahead of its time, but its time has come.
Why was this movie so despised? I believe that it's because it tried to be all things to all people. This movie disappointed the "typical" moviegoer who expected to see "Star Wars" but instead got a gothic, Shakespearian epic tale of political intrigue and messianic destiny. Hard-core fans of Herbert's fabulous novels were disappointed by the relatively underdeveloped characters and key omitted sequences, not to mention the un-Herbertian presence of David Lynch's stylistic elements (for example, the "heart plugs"). Hence, no one was pleased...and the movie bombed.
But DUNE bombed undeservedly. Any objective eye in either of the camps mentioned above will realize that DUNE does a yeoman's job of compressing a far-reaching epic into two and a half hours (try filming War and Peace in under three hours), providing a taste for the epic tale. The medium of film simply does not provide good translations of great books in most cases (with a few exception), so DUNE the movie needs to be appreciated for its own sake. As to those who found this movie too complex, well, don't be offended, but maybe this kind of thing is above your head intellectually.
This is the version to see (in my opinion the "Smithee" version(s) are so poorly edited that they aren't worth watching (although the added scenes are fascinating, especially as they relate to Patrick Stewart's portrayal of Halleck and the Fremen sequences). Hopefully, Mr. Lynch will realize what a great work he created with DUNE and return to produce a real expanded Director's Cut. Until then, though, this is your best bet...and by the way, consider investigating the books, both Frank Herbert's original six volumes and the new Brian Herbert-Anderson "prequel" series. All excellent.
on January 25, 2006
The good news is that both the theatrical and extended versions of this film are in the proper aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and from what I can tell, the extended cut is true widescreen and not just a cropped version of the 1.33:1 TV format (I have an advance copy of the DVD).
Also, the colours are pretty good for the extra scenes, although for the most part noticeable when they're inserted into the film, but aren't as noticeable as the bootleg versions of the extended cut.
And now for the BAD NEWS..., oh sure, it is the extended cut all right, the one from TV, you know, the one with new scenes added, and questionable scenes removed, for the over sensitive viewing audience...!!!
Yeppers, so what we get here is the version missing the baron's psycho flight about the room, covered in what looks like oil, just before pulling the young boys heart plug...
So, I guess I'll have to hold onto the bootleg copy of the fully UNCUT extended version of this movie (even if it is in pan and scan)
Drats, drats, and double DRATS!!!
Oh, and the 3 star rating is for the edited extended cut, and NOT for the movie, which I think is GREAT, being both a visual and mentally stimulating, treat for the senesce.
on May 26, 2000
Part of Dino De Laurentis' legacy of expensive, well-mounted flops, 'Dune' is perversely likeable. One the one hand, the adaptation of the book attempts to retain all of the characters and background, and lots of unnecessary detail, whilst condensing the events - leading to a terrible mess of voice-overs, backstory, and unintroduced characters who appear briefly and then vanish. Patrick Stewart is wasted in this manner, and any film that wastes Patrick Stewart has something badly wrong with it.
With a simple story buried in a mass of picky detail, audiences were baffled. However, if you're unfamiliar with the novel, the film almost works as sheer spectacle, and has moments of grandeur that make you want to forgive it. As the lead character, Kyle McLachlan is fine, and the actors involved are all professionals, even if they don't get much time to do their thing. Best of all, Francisca Annis gets to run around in a tight-fitting leather outfit. This is a definite plus point. Another plus point is the 'look' - the visual style is extraordinary, and it obviously cost a pretty penny - after negative reviews that was how the film was sold. The evocation of high society circa 10,991 hasn't dated in the slightest, and the effects and 'look' are stunning. This was Lynch's only big-budget effects movie (after the success of 'The Elephant Man' and the notoriety of 'Eraserhead' he was seen as a kind of Terry Gilliam), and it shows.
The music is excellent, too - although Toto were the blandest band in the world, the soundtrack mixes ambient washes and soaring orchestrals to great effect. The sense of being on a purely desert world is palpable, and the Spice Worms are everything that could have been expected. The personal shield effects are extremely impressive, too, especially given that they aren't CGI.
All in all, imagine the bible condensed down to two hours, with striking sound and vision, and you have it.
on December 10, 1999
David Lynch's (Eraserhead, Twin Peaks) adaptation of Frank Herbert's defining saga 'DUNE' may very well be, if truth be told, the most epic enterprise, and in many ways the most rewarding, of Lynch's work thus far.
Dune is a difficult movie to review, if only because there is no easy (or maybe I should say simple) way to look at it. At its core though DUNE tells the story of Paul Atreides, a young man whose destiny as a Messiah of worlds echoes that of such classics like Brazil or Spartacus, where seemingly ordinary men become extraordinary beings. This however is an over-simplification, DUNE is built from a collection of stories and legends that form a unique whole -perfectly captured by Lynch.
Make no mistake, this movies begs to be seen in its original 2,35:1 widescreen format. Freddie Francis' photography of the barren Dune world is simply amazing, and even though some of the special effects may seem old when compared to today's standards, the amazing designs by Anthony Masters will simply take your breath away. The DVD edition, while not anamorphic, is very well presented, sporting a very high quality video transfer and excellent sound. A brief, if yet interesting, collection of production notes are also included, as well as cast and crew bios and the original theatrical trailer in widescreen format.
DUNE seems slow at times and it may not be for everyone -but then that's always been the trademark of Lynch's work, I think. Still, DUNE is an excellent example of how a complex story can make a Sci-Fi movie be truly epic. Couple that with the amazing designs and the beautiful photography and you got a winner here. Highly recommended.
on November 21, 2005
Well I saw this extended edition when it first aired on Fox years ago as a Universal Theater Special Presentation. It has also been aired on the Sci-Fi channel several times as well. The opening dialogue was not delivered by Princess Irulan, and was longer, giving you more of the history of the universe including the Butlerian Jihad against the machines. The narrator was male, and some say delivered by David Lynch himself, I cannot confirm nor deny this rumor. Another reviewer wrote that the "cut" scenes were cutting room floor junk. That is not true. They are rougher than the theatrical footage but were intended to be part of a 6 hour version with a planned intermission. After several screenings, the 6 hour version was cut to 137 minutes (2 hours 17 minutes) loosing much of Lynch's planned vision of Dune. The 6 hour version was only test screened a few times and never fully re-mastered as it would have been if, sent to the theaters. This is why that added footage appears rougher, as only the film was given the proper processing, the dialogue would have been re-processed if the 6 hour movie had been approved to hit theaters. It was not, and only the 2 hour and 17 minutes of theatrical release footage was properly processed for theater sound. If we were able to see the 6 hour version, I'm sure it would be a great ride, but since the time on this edition is 177 minutes (2 hours 57 minutes) it is likely the same version aired on Fox years ago, where they advertised it as having 50 minutes of extra footage (actually only 40). The opening dialogue is delivered with still paintings of scenes from the past where the machines took over and enslaved the human race. There are some storyboard scenes also in the opening narrative, as the narrator comments on current events. I did like this version and I hope they were able to re-master the additional footage so it better matches the theatrical footage. Some of the sound on the Fox airing was muted and mono, so I hope they were able to fix this as well. It is because of the roughness of the added footage that David Lynch pulled his name off the TV version. Alan Smithee is the Director, in Hollywood, when any director pulls their name off a project he is billed as Alan Smithee. Several other people pulled their names of the TV project also, including the writer and the editor I believe and perhaps a few others as well. They also have names in Hollywood for writers and editors who pull their names from movies, but I forget what they are. On my edition of the Theatrical Release DVD there are some places where the color has faded on the film, particularly when Paul addresses the 100 fremen he will teach the Weirding Way too. In the upper left hand part of my screen (near Paul's head) the film has faded, and was not on the first DVD I had, nor on the VHS tape edition. I hope universal was able to address this problem as I understand that the extended version will offer both the theatrical release and the extended versions. I hope they are on separate discs also as I hate those slight pauses on dual layered DVDs. There is also an alternative ending and other deleted scenes. Of the alternative ending I do hope they show where Thufir passes away as he forgot to milk his cat for the antidote, this is how the book ended. I can't wait to see the other deleted scenes, and I can only imagine what they may contain. All in all you won't be disappointed with this edition, the movie offers more insight into the Dune universe as first imagined by Frank Herbert. The only thing you'll find in the movie that is NOT in the book are the Weirding Modules. Now the Weirding Way IS in the book, and it is this method of fighting that Paul and Jessica pledge to teach the Fremen in order to gain their protection from the Harkonnen who are once again in control of Dune. The Weirding Modules that work through the Weirding Way using thought, sound and motion are an update, and I think they work well in the movie. Paul, after destroying an obsidian obelisk with the Weirding Module-- "This is part of the Weirding Way that we will teach you. Some thoughts have a certain sound, that being the equivalent to a form. Through sound and motion...you will be able to paralyze nerves, shatter bones, set fires, suffocate an enemy or burst his organs. We will kill until no Harkonnen breathes Arakeen air." It is an afterthought yes, but when I read the book, I found it hard to believe that the fremen with simple maula pistols and crysknives could overthrow the Emperor and kill 10 legions of Sardaukar Terror Troops. The Weirding Modules along with the Weirding Way give the Fremen the available power to defeat the Sardaukar and the Emperor, and I find it to be a more believable ending than the book version. Otherwise David Lynch did very well to bring the book (almost word for word) to the big screen. Even the italicized thoughts in the book are realized in the film, giving you the reader/watcher insight into what that character is thinking. Someday hopefully Dino will release the actual 6 hour cut that was the intended vision for us to see. I am sure he's holding onto it, in Hollywood now a days, you don't throw anything away, otherwise you'll have no extras for your movie's DVD release. I hope this review helped you, and please feel free to leave your own comments on top.
on December 6, 2000
Since I just finished watching the SciFi mini-series, I thought I'd go back and review the David Lynch movie.
There are 2 known versions of Dune, the movie. One was released in theaters and is the version they sell on video. This is shorter than the other version, but well-crafted despite the studio's insistence on a ~2 hour time limit (the rough draft was some four hours long).
Then there is the "Smithee" version, sometimes EXTREMELY erroneously referred to as the "Director's Cut". Kids, this is what is known as an Anti-Director's Cut. When it came time to do a release for TV, the studio took the extra footage and added only some of it in (and not for added effect), replaced the introduction with a ridiculous drawing w/ voiceover, and did lots of other nasty things that resulted in Lynch demanding his name removed from the film, hence "Directed by Alan Smithee", the Hollywood pseudonym for directors who don't want to be associated with bad product.
You can still see the TV release, which is tamer than the wild Lynch original on the DISNEY channel among others (an indication of how much it was tamed).
As for the mini-series, I'll be interested to see it all of one piece, but I felt that the acting was poor, the costuming unimaginative, the soundtrack inappropriate (was that Celtic music?) and the script played fast and loose with Herbert's masterpiece, but then was hampered by its sometime strict adherence to the book!
Best of all possible worlds: Lynch and the studio reconcile, put out a TRUE Director's Cut, and enhance it with modern special effects much the way Lucas enhanced and re-released the Star Wars trilogy before putting out Episode 1.
The theatrical release stands the test of time. But it is most accessible to those who have read the book, because the proscribed length doesn't allow for much explanation to those unfamiliar with Herbert's work. The TV version is an example of why a film is born three times: in the script, in the filming and in the editing. The editing here ruins the film. Watch it as an appendix to the theatrical release for the extra footage. Despise the studio for meddling, and worse than that, meddling to adverse result.
on February 2, 2005
Frank Herbert's "Dune" is to Science Fiction, what Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" is to Fantasy Fiction. While I grew tired quickly of the "Dune" series, the first book (and to a lesser degree, the second, "Children of Dune,") is outstanding: an absolute heavyweight of the science fiction genre which serves as the benchmark against which other works are judged.
That being said, while we finally been treated to what most would agree is THE definitive interpretation of Tolkien's works in Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy, there is much disagreement and dissatisfaction over movie efforts to make Herbert's novel come to life. Those being, David Lynch's much-maligned movie and the Sci-Fi Channel's Television production.
Having seen both versions as well as heaving read the "Dune" novel several times, I can say the Lynch version is superior, if for no other reason than Lynch's vision is truer to the spirit and character of the Dune novel. It is in fact, so bizaare and otherworldly, David Lynch actually hits the amazing, surreal world Herbert creates in his stories dead on the mark.
Its true the Sci-Fi version simply has more time to flesh out characters and develop the plot details and intricacies, but juxtaposed to Lynch's version, the costumes, characters, sets, and the like are quite stale and unimaginative. The horrors of Dune - the cruelty of the Harkonnens - the fascinating wonders - like the Guild, the Navigators, and space travel - the mystery of the Bene Gesserit, etc., are all far more authentically portrayed in Lynch's movie.
Lynch's only limitation was the time frame (and editing that he was forced to do to meet that time frame), in order to tell the story. Imagine Peter Jackson trying to do LOTR in one or two movies and you would come up with a similar result.
Ideally, we would have a movie that took the best elements of both productions - the vision, mood, and feel of the Lynch version that takes the time to further develop the plot and flesh out characters like the Sci-Fi version. Its a shame that a four hour "Director's Cut" of the movie was never released by Lynch - however, the continuity or sense of the film isn't really an issue with those familiar with the book.
In any event, if you want something that truly has the flavor of the Herbert novel, Lynch gets it right - concessions for brevity of the theatrical release notwithstanding.