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Dune (1984) Review


Very Good
Did you know David Lynch at one time considered directing Return of the Jedi? Legions of George Lucas fans are probably delighted that he never got the shot, because for better or for worse (probably for worse) it might have turned out like the bizarre sci-fi experiment Dune. I've sometimes been accused of defending Lynch even when he's not working at his best. That's clearly the case here, resulting in a compromised megabudget effort where Lynch attempts to indulge his graphic art sensibility and please a mass audience at the same time. It just doesn't fly.

But Lynch fans might find stuff to enjoy in Dune anyhow. After all, there's a floating bug monster that parlays with Jose Ferrer's space emperor in the early going, flanked by legions of somnambulant slaves in black raincoats that probably inspired the villains in Dark City. This is followed by Kenneth MacMillan's puss-faced Baron Harkonnen floating around on wires, plucking out the heart of an angel-faced boy-toy (who was planting Blue Velvet-style pastel flowers only moments earlier), and sharing some homo-erotic blubbering with his nephew Feyd (played by Sting, who can't act but lends the film his charismatic rock star presence). Even when the plot is difficult to follow -- some nonsense involving a trade war over different planets that all made sense in Frank Herbert's original novel -- there's enough giddy comic book theatrics to keep Dune interesting as it meanders along for nearly three hours.

Continue reading: Dune (1984) Review

Conan The Destroyer Review


Bad
Might as well be Conan the Babysitter. This sad sequel (rated PG, no less), drops the gritty edge and wanton bloodlust of the original Conan the Barbarian in favor of a kid-friendly adventure that has him rescuing a princess (Olivia d'Abo in her screen debut), with Mako, Grace Jones, and Wilt Chamberlain all along for the ride. Schwarzenegger becomes a jibbering nitwit as well. Just awful. Even Red Sonja is better.

Dragonheart Review


OK
It's going to be a long summer, at this rate.

Trying as hard as possible to be Braveheart with a dragon (hell, look at the title!), Dragonheart is a pretty dismal affair, punctuated by a couple of good performances, a show-stealing computer-generated dragon (with a heart of gold), and a really, really hackneyed story line.

Continue reading: Dragonheart Review

Black Dog Review


OK
Ah, the days of playing with "big rig" Tonka trucks, dump trucks, cranes, and other metal beasts of burden as a kid. Black Dog may be heinously stupid (Patrick Swayze, fresh out of jail, opts to earn $10,000 to run guns for Meat Loaf), but boy do the memories of crashing those Tonkas through a pile of Hot Wheels come back. No, there's nothing at all of interest here besides some incredible 80,000-pound trucks that jackknife, fall off of cliffs, and explode... but isn't that enough?

Conan The Barbarian Review


Very Good
"Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women!" When it comes to the great lines (and mottos) of cinema, it doesn't get much better than this. Arnold Schwarzenegger's second most well-known role is a giddy and absurd adventure in a fantasy kingdom that mixes about a dozen different mythos, and it's nothing if not one hell of a party. Crush your DVD player!
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