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Dune Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Weird, nonsensical, dated sci-fi epic has some cult appeal.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that DUNE is a 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert's famous science fiction novel of 1965. It is filled with fantasy violence of all types including torture, gore, fighting, weapons, and some generally scary and disturbing imagery (including the quasi-torture of a cat and a rat and a young girl wielding a knife). The underlying theme is about a "chosen one" who never has to make any decisions for himself, and then simply declares war on his enemies. Characters in the movie are after a drug called "Spice," which is shown to be powerful enough for men to go to war over. Young science fiction fans may want to see this (as well as a 5-hour TV miniseries remake from 2000), but the immense novel is compressed to the point that the movie is almost nonsensical, and the visual effects have dated badly. Director David Lynch also tries to put his own personal spin on the material, which will at least make the movie more interesting to Lynch fans.

  • Families can talk about the idea of being "the chosen one." What does this mean? Does Paul make any decisions of his own? Does he conquer any fears? Does he use his power wisely?
  • Does the "Spice" in the movie look like a good drug to take, or is it scary? What are the side effects?
  • How did the violence in the film make you feel? Was it exciting? Was it scary?
  • Was there anything in the movie that scared you? Why? Did it have to do with pictures or sounds?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Under all the sci-fi names and gizmos and ideas, DUNE is essentially just a war movie. The hero, Paul, is apparently "the chosen one," and thus he never really has to make a choice; his destiny is laid out for him. When he finds his place, the first thing he does is declare war on his enemy. The objective is to free the desert planet Arrakis, but it's arguable whether or not the end justifies the means.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Paul is the movie's hero and main role model, but, being the "chosen one," he never really has to make any decisions on his own. He appears to be guided by the hand of destiny. Moreover, he uses his "chosen one" power to declare war and destroy his enemies.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: The movie is filled with fantasy-style battles as well as some burning flesh, spurting blood, gore, and torture. We see knife fights (with stabbing), poison gas, kicking, biting, and punching, a severed head, scary monsters, and scary noises, and a special kind of voice-operated laser gun. We also see a scary floating killer hypodermic needle (a "hunter-seeker"). There is a scene in which a rat and a cat are strapped into painful-looking positions and locked in a cage. Notably, there is a young girl character (played by Alicia Witt) who wields a knife.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Paul and Chani are seen in bed together, with naked shoulders, but nothing else. Sting appears nearly naked, wearing only a tiny speedo, and Lady Jessica wears a sexy nightgown in some scenes. Characters flirt with her and tell her how desirable she is.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Everyone in the film is after "Spice," a powerful substance that allows users to travel through vast amounts of space and to live longer. There are also side effects, such as glowing blue eyes. The "Spice" is never demonstrated as being dangerous, but the behavior of the characters around it is a bit like drug dealers on earth. There are also some "drug trip"-like sequences.