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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Under all the sci-fi trappings, Dune is essentially a war movie. The objective is to free the desert planet Arrakis, but it's arguable whether or not the end justifies the means.
Positive Role Models
Complicated characters with both passions and flaws. 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.
Violence & Scariness
The movie is filled with fantasy-style battles, as well as burning flesh, spurting blood, gore, and torture. 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. Scary floating killer hypodermic needle (a "hunter-seeker"). Scene in which a rat and a cat are strapped into painful-looking positions and locked in a cage. A child wields a knife.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Paul and Chani are seen in bed together, with naked shoulders. Feyd appears nearly naked, wearing only tiny briefs, and Lady Jessica wears a suggestive nightgown in some scenes. Characters flirt with her and tell her how desirable she is.
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"Goddamn" and "oh my God" as an exclamation.
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Drinking, Drugs & 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.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dune is a 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert's famous 1965 science fiction novel (another version was released in 2021). It's 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 are in pursuit of a drug called "Spice," which is shown to be powerful enough to go to war over. Young science fiction fans may want to see this (as well as a five-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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Dune is mainly interesting as a curio in the career of brilliant, unique director David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive). Fans may enjoy combing through the movie to find his special touches, but his detractors will argue that it's just more "weird for weird's sake." Unfortunately, anyone looking for a satisfying and coherent science fiction epic will have to look elsewhere. Lynch compressed the 500-page novel into an awkward 137-minute movie, resulting in an overuse onf terrible, expository dialogue and characters "thinking" out loud to explain their motivations. (A 177-minute version was assembled for television, but Lynch did not approve it and removed his name from it.)
However, fans of "bad" sci-fi movies may get some enjoyment out of the movie's odd visual effects, and the cheesy score by Toto and Brian Eno certainly has some majestic moments. The impressive ensemble cast may also provide some pleasures, including Patrick Stewart, Virginia Madsen as the narrator, Brad Dourif, pop star Sting, Max von Sydow, a very young Alicia Witt, and Jack Nance (the star of Lynch's Eraserhead).
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.