REVIEW: DUNE: APOCALYPSE

Note This incredible science fiction has also been released under the title Children of Dune

CAST

Alec Newman (Angel)
Julie Cox (Holby Blue)
Ian MacNeice (Ace Ventura 2)
Steven Berkoff (Red 2)
Daniela Amavia (Tatort)
James mCAvoy (Wanted)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Edward Atterton (Alias)
P.H. Moriarty (Patriot Games)
Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jessica Brooks (Footballer’s Wives)

Twelve years have passed since Paul Atreides had become Emperor at the end of Frank Herbert’s Dune by seizing control of the planet Arrakis and forcing a union with the former Emperor’s daughter, the Princess Irulan. Paul’s Fremen armies have since launched several bloody jihads to solidify his position. Deposed Emperor Shaddam IV and the rest of his family are exiled to Salusa Secundus, where his other daughter Princess Wensicia plots to restore House Corrino to power. The Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, and the Tleilaxu also plot to overthrow Paul’s reign, aided even by rebel Fremen, who hate how Paul’s terraforming project is changing Arrakis and the traditional Fremen way of life. The Tleilaxu present Paul with a ghola in the likeness of his friend Duncan Idaho, killed during the events of Dune, but secretly conditioned to assassinate Paul when triggered by certain words.

Though his prescient abilities reveal the dangers ahead, Paul allows the conspiracies to succeed to avoid even worse consequences. He is attacked with a type of nuclear weapon called a stone burner and blinded, but still manages to “see” by following his prescient visions. Later, Paul’s concubine Chani gives birth to twins at a Fremen sietch but dies soon afterward. In Paul’s absence, his sister Alia purges the imperial city of the enemies of House Atreides. Meanwhile, the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale triggers Duncan’s conditioning; but the trauma of potentially killing Paul breaks his programming, and unlocks the memories of his original incarnation. His plan foiled, Scytale threatens the lives of Paul’s children; whereupon the unique nature of the infants (who, like Alia, were “pre-born”) allows Paul to see through the eyes of his son and kill Scytale. Following the Fremen tradition of abandoning the blind to the sandworms, Paul walks alone into the desert. His legacy secured, the twins and their future empire are now left in the care of Alia. Paul’s and Chani’s children Leto II and Ghanima are now young adults; Princess Irulan has protected their interests as her own. Now married to Duncan, Alia is still regent of Paul’s empire and official guardian of the children. Irulan’s sister Wensicia yearns for a return to power through her son, Farad’n. After a long absence, Paul and Alia’s mother Lady Jessica arrives on Arrakis to visit her family, but Alia fears that Jessica has resumed her allegiance to the Bene Gesserit and may be plotting against her. An individual known as “The Preacher” has surfaced in the capital, speaking against the decline of Muad’Dib’s religion into fear and ritualism; but Alia resists having him killed because she shares the popular belief that he may be a returned Paul.

Alia possesses the memories and personalities of her ancestors due to being pre-born, but has trouble controlling them; her internal struggles against the assertive voices manifest themselves in the form of paranoia and self-destructive behavior. The persona of the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Alia’s maternal grandfather whom she had herself killed, begins to influence her, and threatens to overtake Alia’s consciousness altogether. Jessica senses that Alia has become dangerous, and advises Irulan to spirit Leto and Ghanima away to safety. Later, after an assassination attempt on her, Jessica seeks sanctuary with Fremen dissidents. Wearing clothes presented to them by Wensicia, the twins escape into the deep desert but are soon cornered in a deadly trap of her devising.

 

Wensicia’s plot to assassinate the Atreides heirs fails, but provides Leto an opportunity to fake his own death and buy time to overcome Alia. Alia’s madness reaches its peak as Baron Harkonnen’s grip on her consciousness strengthens and a civil war brews with the rebel Fremen. Leto returns from the deep desert, having used sandtrout — the larval form of Arrakis’ sandworms — to acquire the superhuman speed, strength, and invulnerability of the sandworms themselves.

As a means of forcing as-yet-neutral Fremen leader Stilgar to lead the rebels, Duncan murders Alia’s lover Javid in Stilgar’s sietch; Duncan knows that, according to Fremen custom, Stilgar must revenge-kill him, which will force Stilgar into active opposition to Alia. Leto encounters the Preacher, whose identity as his father is revealed. Leto’s prescient visions have convinced him that he must lead mankind along “the Golden Path” to ensure humanity’s ultimate survival.

With a political marriage arranged by Jessica between Ghanima and Wensicia’s son Farad’n, the Corrino heir identifies his mother as the mastermind behind Leto’s apparent death. Alia has Wensicia imprisoned, but Ghanima accepts Farad’n’s gesture as honest. With Stilgar’s forces moving in, father and son return to the capital city of Arrakeen, where the Preacher makes a final speech denouncing Alia and his own religion, and is fatally stabbed by a rebel Fremen. Leto confronts Alia at Ghanima’s wedding and defeats her. Alia then commits suicide rather than be controlled by the Baron. In the final scene, Ghanima tells Farad’n that while he will not be her husband, they may yet fall in love, and how she pities her brother for the pain and suffering he will endure in the long life he must expect.

Children of Dune’s compelling plot is executed with precision by director Greg Yaitanes, who does a bang-up job over his predecessor, John Harrison. As a matter of fact, though Dune Messiah’s story is naturally a bit weaker than Dune’s, the superb execution here makes it superior to any previous adaptations of Dune (it’s at least as good as the terrific miniseries, far better than the horrible Lynch film). The cinematography distinguishes itself with darker colors, while still maintaining the vibrancy the original miniseries had. Brian Tyler’s beautiful score is evocative, particularly during a wonderful montage segment of literal birth and death.

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: CHILDREN OF DUNE

CAST

Alec Newman (Angel)
Julie Cox (Holby Blue)
Ian MacNeice (Ace Ventura 2)
Steven Berkoff (Red 2)
Daniela Amavia (Tatort)
James McAvoy (Wanted)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Edward Atterton (Alias)
P.H. Moriarty (Patriot Games)
Alice Kridge (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jessica Brooks (Footballer’s Wives)

Twelve years have passed since Paul Atreides had become Emperor at the end of Frank Herbert’s Dune by seizing control of the planet Arrakis and forcing a union with the former Emperor’s daughter, the Princess Irulan. Paul’s Fremen armies have since launched several bloody jihads to solidify his position. Deposed Emperor Shaddam IV and the rest of his family are exiled to Salusa Secundus, where his other daughter Princess Wensicia plots to restore House Corrino to power. The Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, and the Tleilaxu also plot to overthrow Paul’s reign, aided even by rebel Fremen, who hate how Paul’s terraforming project is changing Arrakis and the traditional Fremen way of life. The Tleilaxu present Paul with a ghola in the likeness of his friend Duncan Idaho, killed during the events of Dune, but secretly conditioned to assassinate Paul when triggered by certain words.

Though his prescient abilities reveal the dangers ahead, Paul allows the conspiracies to succeed to avoid even worse consequences. He is attacked with a type of nuclear weapon called a stone burner and blinded, but still manages to “see” by following his prescient visions. Later, Paul’s concubine Chani gives birth to twins at a Fremen sietch but dies soon afterward. In Paul’s absence, his sister Alia purges the imperial city of the enemies of House Atreides. Meanwhile, the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale triggers Duncan’s conditioning; but the trauma of potentially killing Paul breaks his programming, and unlocks the memories of his original incarnation. His plan foiled, Scytale threatens the lives of Paul’s children; whereupon the unique nature of the infants (who, like Alia, were “pre-born”) allows Paul to see through the eyes of his son and kill Scytale. Following the Fremen tradition of abandoning the blind to the sandworms, Paul walks alone into the desert. His legacy secured, the twins and their future empire are now left in the care of Alia. Paul’s and Chani’s children Leto II and Ghanima are now young adults; Princess Irulan has protected their interests as her own. Now married to Duncan, Alia is still regent of Paul’s empire and official guardian of the children. Irulan’s sister Wensicia yearns for a return to power through her son, Farad’n. After a long absence, Paul and Alia’s mother Lady Jessica arrives on Arrakis to visit her family, but Alia fears that Jessica has resumed her allegiance to the Bene Gesserit and may be plotting against her. An individual known as “The Preacher” has surfaced in the capital, speaking against the decline of Muad’Dib’s religion into fear and ritualism; but Alia resists having him killed because she shares the popular belief that he may be a returned Paul.

Alia possesses the memories and personalities of her ancestors due to being pre-born, but has trouble controlling them; her internal struggles against the assertive voices manifest themselves in the form of paranoia and self-destructive behavior. The persona of the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Alia’s maternal grandfather whom she had herself killed, begins to influence her, and threatens to overtake Alia’s consciousness altogether. Jessica senses that Alia has become dangerous, and advises Irulan to spirit Leto and Ghanima away to safety. Later, after an assassination attempt on her, Jessica seeks sanctuary with Fremen dissidents. Wearing clothes presented to them by Wensicia, the twins escape into the deep desert but are soon cornered in a deadly trap of her devising.

 

Wensicia’s plot to assassinate the Atreides heirs fails, but provides Leto an opportunity to fake his own death and buy time to overcome Alia. Alia’s madness reaches its peak as Baron Harkonnen’s grip on her consciousness strengthens and a civil war brews with the rebel Fremen. Leto returns from the deep desert, having used sandtrout — the larval form of Arrakis’ sandworms — to acquire the superhuman speed, strength, and invulnerability of the sandworms themselves.

As a means of forcing as-yet-neutral Fremen leader Stilgar to lead the rebels, Duncan murders Alia’s lover Javid in Stilgar’s sietch; Duncan knows that, according to Fremen custom, Stilgar must revenge-kill him, which will force Stilgar into active opposition to Alia. Leto encounters the Preacher, whose identity as his father is revealed. Leto’s prescient visions have convinced him that he must lead mankind along “the Golden Path” to ensure humanity’s ultimate survival.

With a political marriage arranged by Jessica between Ghanima and Wensicia’s son Farad’n, the Corrino heir identifies his mother as the mastermind behind Leto’s apparent death. Alia has Wensicia imprisoned, but Ghanima accepts Farad’n’s gesture as honest. With Stilgar’s forces moving in, father and son return to the capital city of Arrakeen, where the Preacher makes a final speech denouncing Alia and his own religion, and is fatally stabbed by a rebel Fremen. Leto confronts Alia at Ghanima’s wedding and defeats her. Alia then commits suicide rather than be controlled by the Baron. In the final scene, Ghanima tells Farad’n that while he will not be her husband, they may yet fall in love, and how she pities her brother for the pain and suffering he will endure in the long life he must expect.Children of Dune’s compelling plot is executed with precision by director Greg Yaitanes, who does a bang-up job over his predecessor, John Harrison. As a matter of fact, though Dune Messiah’s story is naturally a bit weaker than Dune’s, the superb execution here makes it superior to any previous adaptations of Dune (it’s at least as good as the terrific miniseries, far better than the horrible Lynch film). The cinematography distinguishes itself with darker colors, while still maintaining the vibrancy the original miniseries had. Brian Tyler’s beautiful score is evocative, particularly during a wonderful montage segment of literal birth and death.

 

REVIEW: DUNE (2000)

4187RDK6KHL

CAST

William Hurt (A.I.)
Alec Newman (Angel)
Saskia reeves (Nymphomaniac)
James Watson (The Winter Warrior)
Jan Vlasak (Hostel)
P.H. Moriarty (Patriot Games)
Robert Russell (Blue Valentine)
Ian MacNeice (Ace Ventura 2)
Matt Kesslar (Scream 3)
Giancarlo Giannini (Man on Fire)
Julie Cox (Holby Blue)

The Sci-Fi Channel’s production of Frank Herbert’s Dune is a vast epic tale bristling with adventure, romance, and political intrigue. It’s an epic saga that’s faithfully told, staying true to its source material with well-developed characters and an engrossing plot that’s complex, yet entirely comprehensible. Most importantly, it’s a miniseries that’s extremely enjoyable to watch; this isn’t an example of slow pretension, but rather a spirited and rousing adventure. Running at nearly 5 hours, the production is always a lot of fun to watch, and never flags in pacing or momentum.
 The cast is a success, particularly lead Alec Newman as Paul Atreides. In the miniseries most crucial role, Newman finds most of the right nuances and emotional complexities of the character. Saskia Reeves delivers the series’ best performance as Lady Jessica, a role full of warmth and heart. It’s a pity Reeves won’t return for Children of Dune, but Alice Krige is a superb actress in her own right. The villains of the piece are equally magnetic. Ian Mcniece is a menacingly cunning Baron Harkonnen, while Matt Keeslar makes for an imposing Feyd Rautha. In other important roles, William Hurt, P.H. Moriarty, and Julie Cox acquit themselves admirably. The only weak performer is Barbara Kodetova, who’s annoying as Chani, lacking the strength and conviction we expect from the part.

Dune is a spectacular production, aided by some of the best interior sets on screen to date. The CGI effects are excellent, given the budgetary limitations, and the giant sandworms stand out, especially in their awe-inspiring first appearance. The miniseries has a lavish, gorgeous look to it (courtesy of cinemtographer Vittorio Storraro), wisely separating it from its lacking predecessor (the Lynch disaster). Writer/director John Harrison achieves tight pacing through superb editing and storytelling. He also does a fine job delivering rousing action sequences, the knife fights are dynamic and the epic battle scenes are fast-paced and exciting. I’m certain there will still be discontent Herbert fans, but I found this a fully satisfying miniseries on almost all counts.

 

REVIEW: DUNE (1984)

CAST
Kyle MacLachlan (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Brad Dourif (Childs Play)
Linda Hunt (Dragonfly)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander II)
Francesca Annis (The Libertine)
Leonardo Cimino (Amityville II)
José Ferrer (Lawrence of Arabia)
Freddie Jones (Young Sherlock Holmes)
Richard Jordan (The Hunt For Red October)
Siân Phillips (Clash of The Titans 1981)
Jürgen Prochnow (Hitman: Agent 47)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Sting (Brimstone & Treacle)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Max von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Alicia Witt (Two Weerks Notice)
Sean Young (Blade Runner)
In the distant future the known universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The most important substance in the empire is the drug known as melange or “the spice”. It has many special properties, such as extending life and expanding consciousness. The most profitable and important of its properties is its ability to assist the Spacing Guild with folding space, which allows safe, instantaneous interstellar travel.
Sensing a potential threat to spice production, the Guild sends an emissary to demand an explanation from the Emperor, who confidentially shares his plans to destroy House Atreides. The popularity of Duke Leto Atreides has grown, and he is suspected to be amassing a secret army, making him a threat to the Emperor. Shaddam’s plan is to give the Atreides control of the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), the only source of spice, and to have them ambushed there by their longtime archenemies, the Harkonnens. The Navigator commands the Emperor to kill the Duke’s son, Paul Atreides, a young man who dreams prophetic visions of his purpose. The order draws the attention of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, as Paul is tied to the centuries-long Bene Gesserit breeding program which seeks to produce the universe’s superbeing, the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul is tested by the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Paul is forced to place his hand in a box which subjects him to excruciating pain. He passes to Mohiam’s satisfaction.
Meanwhile, on the industrial world of Giedi Prime, the sadistic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen tells his nephews Glossu Rabban and Feyd-Rautha about his plan to eliminate the Atreides by manipulating someone into betraying the Duke. The Atreides leave Caladan for Arrakis, a barren desert planet populated by gigantic sandworms and the Fremen, a mysterious people who have long held a prophecy that a messiah would come to lead them to freedom. Upon arrival on Arrakis, Leto is informed by one of his right-hand men, Duncan Idaho, that the Fremen have been underestimated, as they exist in vast numbers and could prove to be powerful allies. Leto gains the trust of Fremen, but before the Duke can establish an alliance with them, the Harkonnens launch their attack.While the Atreides had anticipated a trap, they are unable to withstand the attack, supported by the Emperor’s elite troops and aided by a traitor within House Atreides, Dr. Wellington Yueh. Captured, Leto dies in a failed attempt to assassinate the Baron Harkonnen using a poison gas capsule planted in his tooth by Dr. Yueh. Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica and his son Paul escape into the deep desert, where they join a band of Fremen, led by Stilgar. Paul emerges as Muad’Dib, the leader for whom the Fremen have been waiting. Paul teaches the Fremen to use the sonic weapons and targets mining production of spice. Within two years, spice production is effectively halted. The Spacing Guild warn the The Emperor of the situation on Arrakis. The Guild fears that Paul will consume the Water of Life. These fears are revealed to Paul in a prophetic dream; he drinks the Water of Life and enters into a trance. Awakening, he is transformed and gains control of the sandworms of Arrakis. He has discovered that water kept in huge caches by the Fremen can be used to destroy the spice. Paul has also seen into space and the future; the Emperor is amassing a huge invasion fleet above Arrakis to regain control of the planet and the spice.
Upon the Emperor’s arrival at Arrakis, he executes Rabban for failing to remedy the spice situation. Paul launches a final attack against the Harkonnens and the Emperor’s elite shock troops at the capital city of Arrakeen. His Fremen warriors defeat the Emperor’s legions, while Paul’s sister Alia kills Baron Harkonnen. Paul faces the defeated Emperor and relieves him of power, then engages Feyd-Rautha in a duel to the death. Paul demonstrates his newfound powers and fulfills the Fremen prophecy that he is the promised messiah by causing rain to fall on Arrakis for the first time ever, as Alia declares him the Kwisatz Haderach.
If you are curious about the film and are familiar with all the bad and discouraging press it has received over the years, yet remain a fan of exceptional fantasy or science fiction, do not be discouraged. You may find that it has elements that may just move you, bewilder you, or tantalise your imagination. You may come to agree, like a growing number of us, that it really is not so deserving of the excoriation that it has suffered at the hands – or pens – of its harshest critics. If you go into it with a forgiving mindset then you may be well rewarded. And then – if you haven’t already – read the saga itself. It is formidably great