Tag: Dune

Movie Review: Dune


I got dragged to see the new adaptation of Dune, and it sucked. The movie takes place a million years in the future when everyone is a brooding bore who can’t speak above a whisper. It has less color than if it were shot in black and white.

I get it. Twenty minutes in, I wanted to scream, “I get it!” This is capital-S Serious cinema. Director Denis Villeneuve worked with a $165 million budget to make a blockbuster action movie based on a popular IP, but he wants you to know at heart he’s an impoverished artist who will bring his vision to the screen no matter what. He’s part of the 1% (you could place him in an even more impressive fraction of that percent if you want to do the math) and the payout from Dune will afford him another mansion, but fear not he’s as much an artist as the director who lives off ramen and sells his belongings to fund his weird arthouse project. Hence the entire cast speaks in hushed tones with the solemnity of a child’s funeral. I wanted every character to die, but even had they, how would that change their performances?

To mark the release of the new Dune movie (which he has not yet seen), Jack flies solo to answer some of your questions about how he turned into the world’s most annoying Dune fan, what he likes about the series, what his favorite moments and characters from the books are, and more. There’s also a photoshop request, if anyone’s willing . . .

Quote of the Day: Frank Herbert on Government and Bureaucracy


Most think of Frank Herbert’s Dune series as stories of prescience and the spice, of waring Fremen charging out of the desert.  The second trilogy, however, has some interesting perspectives on government and its excesses.  These quotes on bureaucracy are from the final Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune.*

“Surely you know bureaucracies always become voracious aristocracies after they attain commanding power.”

On his 27th birthday, Jack flies solo with a raw, unedited podcast–recorded and released almost instantly–and answers listener questions on topics from sci-fi to Straussianism while also complaining that Ringo Starr won’t retweet him even though they share a birthday.

Overlooked Series for TV or Movie Adaptation


The Game of Thrones book series is nihilistic nonsensical bilge.  But it makes for “good” television because that sort of mess seems to be popular in today’s culture, what with all the sex, sorcery, and savagery.  As an actual story though?  It’s terrible.  Which is probably why George R.R. Martin could never finish it – it had no real logical “out”, no escape from its cycles of violence and revenge, save what the HBO writers could force together.  Until HBO picked it up, though, it was unlikely fare for Hollywood treatment – Hollywood typically shies away from overly long fantasy cycles simply because such things are very expensive to cast and produce well, to say nothing of finding good writers to translate novels into scripts you can actually film.  For all the awfulness of its story, I do give full credit to HBO for the solid work they put into the project over nearly a decade – one can deplore the story but still admire the brilliant and extremely skilled craftwork involved in telling it, and (more importantly) sticking with it at that high level for so long.  Would that The Hobbit had been given that same dedication.

And now it seems we are to receive another attempt at telling the story of Dune.  I am not excited at the prospect.  The David Lynch film of the 80s was terrible.  The SciFi Channel’s miniseries of 20 years ago was much better.  But why Dune?  Why yet another attempt?  If Hollywood is looking for that next “big epic”, surely there are other and better stories to tell?  Dune, the first book, is interesting, but has its weaknesses, while the rest of the series gets rather strange.  Haven’t other authors written better and more compelling fantasy or science-fiction epics?  Or must we continually return to just a few “classics”, like Amazon is trying to do with its pending Tolkien series?  I would like to propose a few other authors and series that Hollywood should consider instead, and would invite you to make your own suggestions as well.

In another podcast first, Jack brings on a politician: Mike Gallagher, House Representative for Wisconsin’s 8th District. Though he’s over 30, he’s still a Millennial, and offers some pop culture discussion, some political perspectives, and some advice for young people.

How Lame Is Our Awesome God?


“When He rolls up His sleeves / He ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz” must be one of the least promising ways to begin a worship song ever. Nobody rolling up their sleeves is “puttin’ on the Ritz.” The rolled-up sleeve-position used for manual labor is the opposite of the sleeve-position used for an old-fashioned fancy night out. And yet, that’s how Richard Mullins’s best-known song, Awesome God opens. Mullins himself considered Awesome God something of a failure, remarking, “the thing I like about Awesome God is that it’s one of the worst-written songs that I ever wrote; it’s just poorly crafted.” And yet it’s a song many of us remember fondly. Why?

To be fair, the lyrics get better from there: “There is THUNder in His footsteps / And lightnin’ in His fists.” Although not by much. Awesome God alternates patter in the verses with an expansive chorus, and the patter is hardly scintillating prose, much less verse. (“Eden” rhymes with “be believin’” — really?) The patter does, though, address themes often left out of “Jesus is my boyfriend”-style worship songs. God as Judge. Sin and its wages. God as God not just of happy, shiny, fluffy things, but also of the storm. And, when the song is sung at proper tempo (no slower than Mullins himself performed it), the rapid-fire, syncopated sixteenth-note patter creates an effect that surpasses its individual words. Especially when the worship leader delivers the patter in a half-snarled, half-whispered mutter, as if he’s letting you in on the secret of something dangerous — which he is: Aslan’s not safe, after all, just good. Notice I called the worship leader he. That’s important. Awesome God is made for a masculine musical delivery, and the difference between liking the song and hating it can simply be the difference between having learned it as masculine and driven, or crooning and wimpy.

The Legendarium Podcast Has Come to Ricochet


At the beginning of this year, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. Craig Hanks, who listens to the Remnant with Jonah Goldberg (on which I make furtive appearances) heard that I was reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien. Craig happens to host his own podcast, The Legendarium Podcast, on which he and others discuss the great works of sci-fi and fantasy literature. He invited me onto his show to discuss The Silmarillion. You can listen to the episode here

Something strange happened when I distilled my thoughts about The Silmarillion in a post I published on Ricochet: All of Ricochet’s various nerds came out of the woodwork and had a field day discussing this somewhat more obscure “prequel” to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. A similar thing happened when I produced another post, about God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert, after appearing on one episode of the Legendarium (and later another) to discuss it. 

The revelation of an “undocumented nerd” community at Ricochet convinced higher-ups to bring this large, underserved population “out of the shadows” by bringing Craig’s podcast here. And so here it is. Now the Legendarium’s deep-dives not only into Tolkien and Herbert and the worlds they created but also their explorations of other, perhaps more obscure authors and worlds, are available via Ricochet. 

In the latest episode, the Young Americans get super nerdy, with the help of real-life tech policy researcher Caleb Watney of the R Street Institute. He and Jack discuss the virtues of free markets vs. Millennial skepticism thereof, question the emerging conventional wisdom on tech addiction and Silicon Valley, rebut the Unabomber (!), and go full nerd with semi-related digressions about Blade RunnerThe Matrix, and, of course, Dune.

‘God Emperor of Dune’ Embodies the Greatness (and Strangeness) of the ‘Dune’ Universe


This December, the last Star Wars movie (probably) featuring any of the original series’ cast members will come out. Good riddance. Because in November 2020, the god-emperor of science fiction will reign supreme once more, as a new adaptation of Dune by Frank Herbert will come to theaters.

And I’ll be there, even though I’m a relatively new convert to Dune’s greatness. As a sci-fi- inhaling youngster, I was told that the two sci-fi books I had to read were Dune and Neuromancer by William Gibson. I bought them both at a Half-Price Books more than a decade ago…and did nothing with either of them until July 2016, when I finally made my way through Dune.* I liked what I read, and have been gradually working through the series since.

This is how I learned that Dune is not merely “Star Wars for adults,” as the new film’s director, Dennis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) accurately stated. Indeed, Star Wars stole much of its backbone from Dune, in ways that their both starting as sci-fi hero’s journey stories can adequately explain.

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Everything I need to know about politics, I learned from Dune:  Fear is the mind-killer.  Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them. That which submits rules. … The willow submits to the wind and […]

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You Ricochetti are all over the world, and like all kinds of drinks!  Here is fodder for pleasant and friendly thoughts having nothing to do with our big disagreements! I drink tea.  I never touch coffee.  My brief childhood experiences of coffee were consistent with Nietzsche’s assessment of coffee.  By contrast, and in my experience, tea extends life, expands consciousness, and is vital […]

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