Review Detail

9.6 9 10
FanFix October 07, 2020 3402
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There’s no way I could write an unbiased review of this movie at this point. I’m fairly certain the movie fails as a stand-alone work as it spends too much time on clunky exposition without actually making things make sense for the non-initiates. Having read the book, I know what is going on. And, strangely, I feel the book is both required reading for that purpose, but also you have to forget about the book entirely and enjoy the movie on its own merits. A tough thing to do. And that is what this movie is: a movie of contradictions. It’s too long and yet feels rushed in crucial places. It’s got some amazing aesthetics, but the effects are dodgy and seem afterthoughts.

Lynch, predictably, leans in on the weird and I think that is the movie’s greatest strength. But it does also get too cartoonish. As I said, I have no trouble following the movie but I can easily see why many would. In my opinion, the exposition heavy first half is much better than the rushed second half. Unfortunately, it’s the second half—once Paul and Jessica are in the desert—where the most interesting story developments exist. But the events happen so quickly without much development at all. Paul and Chani love each other... because they are supposed to because of a dream, I guess. I can’t imagine how all of that plays to someone who hasn’t read the book. In general, I have a soft spot for the movie. I love the aesthetic and the weirdness. But I think it’s reputation as a glorious mess is well earned as well. But I honestly feel sorry for those who only see the mess and don’t see its gloriousness.

There are many versions that circulate. I highly recommend the longer versions, which is what I’ve talked about here. I don’t even remember what the theatrical is like, but I have to imagine it amps up all of the flaws I’ve talked about here. I honestly wish someone could get the money to interest Lynch in restoring this to a four hour version. I know much necessary footage was probably never shot, but a man can dream.

For the edit, I think it’s very well done. There’s so many different versions floating around I can’t keep it all straight. The look is noticeably improved, even to eyes that hadn’t seen any version in quite some time. I tried to follow along with the published cut list and nothing really felt off. It still retains the flaws mentioned above, too exposition heavy in the first half; too rushed in the second half. The effects are still very wonky but dare I say they look less dated here. As is often cited for fan edits, there’s only so much an editor can do given the source material. But I can’t say I disagreed with any decision made here. The one caveat is I’m unsure what footage wasn’t used. I know there are longer versions, but I can’t remember what made them longer. This definitely does feel like the best version I’ve seen. And if you can allow yourself to experience it on its own merits and not as a book adaptation, I think there’s a lot to enjoy. I really want to see that second half feel more organic. Here’s hoping Villeneuve gets his shot at it.

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