Thoughts on the new ‘Dune’ trailer?

One of my kids asked me if I’d seen it, and until moments ago, I hadn’t realized it was out.

Anyway, I just saw it.

I’m not going to say what I think until I hear what y’all think, except to say this: So far, it looks much better than the abomination David Lynch unleashed upon the world in 1984. That, of course, was the worst large-budget motion picture in history.

Worse, it was the most significant betrayal ever of a ready, eager, trusting fan base. All those millions of people who (like me) ran to the theaters and bought tickets — finally, we were going to see Arrakis ourselves! And then to watch that nightmare unfold before our eyes. Frame after frame, Lynch must have stayed up nights screaming to himself, How can I screw THIS part up? And it’s got to be more extreme than the frame before it!!!! (Imagine him doing this in a voice like Bobcat Goldthwait.)

Don’t agree with me? I have two words for you — “weirding modules.” Enough said.

Oh, as for the made-for-TV series that came out in 2000… that wasn’t bad. I liked that they called it “Frank Herbert’s Dune,” to distinguish themselves from David Lynch’s horror. Probably the biggest letdown in that was the casting of William Hurt as Duke Leto, but then Hurt has been miscast in everything except “Altered States” (he was totally believable as that guy) and maybe “Broadcast News.” But it wasn’t bad. Still, in those days, TV wasn’t yet the medium it is now. So we’ve waited another 20 years for something to be attempted on the grand scale.

Which means at this point, my expectations are unreasonably high. I know this.

Anyway, tell me what you think of the trailer, and we’ll discuss…

Dune still

13 thoughts on “Thoughts on the new ‘Dune’ trailer?

  1. Bob Amundson

    No Melange (“the spice”), no Freeman, and a sandworm only at the very end; not a good start. If you look closely, my eyes are blue within blue.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      There was a shot of spice. And some of those characters were Fremen. In fact, Stilgar is played by Javier Bardem! I think that might work well.

      I think the one that looked closest to the character was Dr. Yueh…

      Here’s the spice, I think…


      1. Bob Amundson

        Looks like sand – maybe. I guess my point is too little emphasis on what I remember from reading the books some 40+ years ago.

  2. Ken

    Looks like Star Wars … with swords.

    Such a technologically advanced society and they still muck around with swords??

    1. Brad Warthen Post author


      This is 20,000 years in the future. So, all of recorded human history up to now times four. A lot has happened.

      Yes, they are way advanced, but not as far as you might think. For instance, several thousands of years earlier there was a major conflict that ended up defining the society you see there. And one thing that happened was that computers were banned. People are governed by the religious precept, “Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.”

      Still, they managed interstellar travel, and humans are scattered across many planets, each with cultures that have evolved over thousands of years. (This among other things, led to the re-emergence of feudalism, which is an important element of the story.)

      As for the swords…

      On most of the planets, everyone with the means wears a personal “shield” — a device mounted in a belt that generates a protective force field. You can see in the lights around people’s bodies when they’re fighting in the trailer.

      A shield will turn a bullet or anything fired by a conventional projectile weapon. Also, it’s extremely dangerous for the beam from a “lasgun” to touch a shield — both the attacker and the one attack will die in a low-grade atomic explosion.

      But if you attack with a bladed weapon with a sufficiently slow movement, you can get through a shield.

      Of course, on Dune — the planet Arakis — all bets are off because it is extraordinarily dangerous (because of the giant sandworms) to activate a shield. So everyone from another planet has to learn to fight in new ways there… Meanwhile, the local Fremen are master fighter who are used to fighting that way…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Herbert created a fairly complicated fictional universe, so he has an appeal to fans that is somewhat like Tolkien’s…

        Maybe not as good in literary terms, but certainly compelling and absorbing to the fan…

      2. Ken

        Yeah, I read Dune way back in high school. Found it rather slow-going. Not Silmarillion slow, but slow. And I’ve seen waaay too many sword-slinging movies. Don’t have the stomach for more. Plus, my logical self still thinks Herbert could’ve come up with a better fix than swords. A light saber is a far “more elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”

          1. Ken

            Nah, that’s a real mess of post-apocalyptic gibberish. A plague on it — as well as all those operatic space fantasies. Gimme some real SCIENCE fiction.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, here’s an initial impression.

    The guy playing Paul looks like he could work as Muad’Dib — in other words, as Paul after he’s spent several years with the Fremen. Assuming that if he removes the stillsuit to fight Feyd-Rautha, you see that he’s strong as well as skinny. Which I’m sort of doubting…

    He does NOT look like a water-fat off-worlder.

    He DOES on the other hand, look like he’d be easy pickings, which is what the Fremen thought when they first encountered him with Lady Jessica.

    Whether you’re going by Atreides or Fremen standards, one thing this guy does NOT look is tough. He looks like a half-starved runaway from a boy band…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I mentioned earlier that one GOOD thing about the abominable film in 1984 was the casting of Sting as Feyd-Rautha.

      But it was also a case of getting things backward.

      PARTIAL SPOILER: At the climax of the book, when Paul prepares to fight Feyd for all the marbles, and as I mentioned removes his stillsuit for the fight, a contrast is noted: After years on Dune, Paul’s body is super-skinny with muscles like thin cables wrapped on a skeleton. This is contrasted with Feyd’s relative burliness.

      But in the film, Kyle MacLachlan is the guy who looks like he’s been getting plenty of water, while in a widely used publicity still, Sting looks like a guy who’s been living under Fremen water discipline.

      Of source, that’s the kind of small inconsistency that could have been forgiven had the rest of the movie not been so horrible.

      To his credit, Sting still worked as Feyd, because he had the essence of the character down. You just look at his facial expression, and he’s believable.

      Which of course Kyle MacLachlan was not…

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