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215. Dune (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Charlene Lydon and Joe Griffin, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, David Lynch’s Dune.

The galaxy is in turmoil. Rumours swirl of a plot against House Atreides. As Duke Leto Atreides takes control of the desert planet of Dune, he tries to track down the traitors in his midst. Meanwhile, his son Paul finds himself on the verge of an awakening that will have a profound impact on the future of mankind.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Video! On “Dune” and “Flash Gordon” as Biblical Epics for the Eighties…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with the Monday article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

As Flash Gordon is forty years old this month and as a new Dune was supposed to open this month, I thought it was worth taking a look at Dino DeLaurentiis’ two big eighties science-fiction epics. In particular, the ways in which they responded to Star Wars by drawing on the scale and spectacle of the biblical epics of the fifties.

New Escapist Column! On “Flash Gordon” and “Dune” as Biblical Epics for a Secular Age…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. As this week marks the fortieth anniversary of Flash Gordon and this month would have seen the release of the next cinematic adaptation of Dune, it seemed like a good time to talk about Dino DeLaurentiis’ science-fiction epics.

Flash Gordon and Dune exist in the shadow of George Lucas’ Star Wars, but they are markedly different films. While Lucas drew heavily from classic science-fiction serials, he adopted modern techniques in production and editing. In contrast, Dune and Flash Gordon are more old-fashioned in their storytelling. More than that, with the death of New Hollywood and the emerging blockbuster film market, it seems like the studios leaned rather heavily into the kind of epic that they knew how to make. As a result, Dune and Flash Gordon feel rather like biblical epics… in space!

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – ” Mulan, Dune and The Academy”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Bob Chipman for the third episode, primarily discussing Disney’s release of Mulan, the first trailer for Dune and the new changes to eligibility for the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On the Unique Appeal of David Lynch’s “Dune”…

I published a new piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. This week saw the release of the first production photos from Denis Villeneuve, so it felt like the perfect opportunity to take a look back at the last attempted adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic science-fiction classic.

David Lynch’s Dune is not necessarily a coherent film. It’s not a good film by any traditional metric of quality. However, it is a unique film. There has, quite simply, never been another blockbuster like it. It’s a film at war with itself, caught between extremes. The producers clearly want the film to look like a Star Wars rip-off, while Lynch is pulling from his own esoteric influences. The results are dazzling and chaotic. It’s hard to believe that a film like this could ever exist.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “Dune” as a Deconstruction of the “Chosen One” Fantasy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. This week saw the release of the first production photos from Denis Villeneuve, so it felt like the perfect opportunity to dig into Frank Herbert’s science-fiction classic.

A lot of the press around Dune is making a big deal about the novel as an epic on the scale of something like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings. However, this seems to sell the novel short. Dune is not a simple “chosen one” fantasy narrative, although it has many of the familiar trappings of the genre. It is the story of a teenage boy who comes to inspire religious devotion in his followers, after all. However, the novel problematicises that sort of story, by complicating the messiah at its core. Dune is warped and grotesque reflection of those power fantasies.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Star Trek: Enterprise – Countdown (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This August, we’re doing the third season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Star Trek: Enterprise spent a lot of the final stretch of the third season playing at being Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. There are a number of episodes that provide a direct parallel with stories from that earlier underrated Star Trek show. Damage riffs on In the Pale Moonlight. is very much Children of Time. More than that, the moral ambiguity and the long-form storytelling that define the third season of Enterprise also owe a very conscious debt to the work done on Deep Space Nine.

However, the final two episodes of the third season drift away from the ethical uncertainties and moral quagmires that defined a lot of the year’s stories. The Council effective resolved the big thematic questions hanging over the third season, allowing Archer the chance to propose a diplomatic solution to the Xindi crisis. This allows Countdown and Zero Hour to go about the task of providing a suitably impressive action climax to this twenty-four-episode season-long arc. There is precious little soul-searching here; instead, there is one big race against time.

The life aquatic...

The life aquatic…

In that respect, the last two episodes of the third season hark back to a more traditional form of Star Trek storytelling. In particular, Countdown and Zero Hour feel like an old-school blockbuster two-parter, in the style of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Voyager. In fact, with Archer’s fate in question and a hostile unstoppable force invading the solar system only to be destroyed in orbit of Earth, Countdown and Zero Hour play like an extended homage to The Best of Both Worlds.

While one of the most frequent criticisms of Enterprise is the sense that the writing staff are simply regurgitating classic Next Generation and Voyager plots, this feels almost earned. The third season has largely been about the show’s journey back to the heart of the Star Trek franchise, a trip that concluded with Archer embracing traditional Star Trek values in The Council. But what fun is that journey if you don’t get to celebrate it with an epic high-stakes world-ending rollercoaster ride?

"We cool?" "We cool."

“We cool?”
“We cool.”

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