— by CAM SMITH —
After years upon years of behind-the-scenes hemming and hawing, stalled start-dates and a veritable conveyer belt of potential directors, it appears that “Dune” — as of this week — has finally earned its golden ticket out of the unholy ninth circle of development hell.
Based on the classic 1965 sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert, “Dune” was, up until a couple months ago, being overseen by “Hancock” and “The Kingdom” helmer Peter Berg, who decided at the last minute to trade in giant sandworms for the gun-blastin’ battleships offered by the Mattel board-game adaptation of, well, “Battleship.”
Now, word has filtered out of Entertainment Weekly’s Hollywood Insider blog that “Taken” director Pierre Morel has jumped aboard the project and will bring screenwriter Josh Zetumer’s “faithful” script to sand-covered life in the very near future.
Honestly, this news means little to me, as my own experience with the property is next to nil — although the DVD of David Lynch’s apparently disastrous 1984 version is sitting directly to my right waiting patiently to be watched — so I’m pretty much indifferent to this news.
However, I gotta say that having seen Morrel’s “District B13” and “Taken” — as well as the trailers for “From Paris, With Love” — I have to question whether he’s the right director to attempt to bring a thriving, expansive science-fiction universe to life. He seems too focused on quick-cut action beats and threadbare storytelling to have the patience and discipline to truly portray the world of “Dune” in the proper majestic, ambitious light — 100 percent free of jump-cuts, over-the-top machismo and break-neck pacing.
I suspect, though, that in the wake of the box-office-busting “Avatar” we’re going to see a significant number of epic sci-fi franchises getting the green-light in the months shortly ahead. Does “Dune” have what it takes be the next gargantuan event film chart-topper? Time, effort, and a whole lotta moolah, will tell that tale.
Chime in with your own thoughts on “Dune” in our comments section. Does a flashy new adaptation interest you? Is Morel a good candidate to tame the wild worm? What would you suggest he do to avoid the pit-falls that David Lynch fell into? Let us know!
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.