Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Spice Revisited: Dune the miniseries

20120724-185539.jpgAfter the Harkonnen's processes are no longer deemed satisfactory the Atreides family is requested by the Emperor of planets to oversee the extraction of a precious commodity known as Spice on Arrakis. However, an ongoing feud between Harkonnen and Atreides leads to treachery and double cross. A gifted young adult of the Atreides family after being exiled and thought dead turns to the denizens to restore order, not knowing that he maybe the prophesied messiah.

It's not often that a miniseries limitations can be critically overlooked; however, Dune is the exception due to its intriguing multi-layered, character loaded presentation. Should Dune have been made recently with a filmatic look and budget of recent TV series' it may have become an archetype version of Dune.

John Harrison's screenplay and direction is at times cleverly subtle, however, on occasion it is bland and clichéd. Notwithstanding much of the scripts highs and lows maybe be courteous of Frank Herbert's inspiring, influential novel source material as it's been around since 1965.

The cast donning elaborate costumes are on fine form and wrestle well with Harrison's and Herbert's dialogue. The ensemble include the likes of Giancarlo Giannini, Saskia Reeves and Zuzana Geislerová who plays the creepy Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Julie Cox is captivating as Princess Irulan Corrino and William Hurt is perfectly cast as the heavy burdened, ill-fated Duke Leto Atreides. Notable is Karel Dobrý who gives a memorable and resonating performance as Dr. Pardot Kynes. Lead Alec Newman as Paul/Muad'Dib carries the story arch and weight of the series successfully.

The effects and backdrops vary in quality and execution, some are wonderfully realised and ingeniously produced while others take you out of the moment, comparable in distraction to Ian McNeice's Baron Harkonnen breaking the fourth wall with theatrics to the camera.

You can take or leave the actors, special effects, action scenes and sets the real star of the show is the story which can be revisited, dissected or just taken at face value. As with all grand sagas there's a lot going on, with an array of characters to keep track of. Perhaps there's too much for the casual viewer and it may be disappointing to those wanting to see a straightforward space adventure.

Nevertheless, through all its short comings it's an epic story on a sweeping scale only hampered by its budget restrictions and occasional delivery.

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