Children of Dune

Starring: Susan Sarandon, Alec Newman, Julie Cox, Ian McNeice, Alice Krige and Steven Berkoff
Warner Vision International
RRP: 39.99
Certificate: 12
Available now

The House of Atreides has emerged as a superpower of Dune's planet Arrakis. However, the rule of the government is not wholly universal, there are numerous corrupt adversaries, the greatest being the fallen Baron Harkonnen who strikes to regain control of his old Empire, Dune, with it's mystifying life-force, and all it symbolises to the galactic order...

Children of Dune is based on the second and third books in Frank Herbert's Dune series, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. The first thing worth mentioning is how much more money has been thrown at this series than the original Dune mini-series (which itself was impressive).

In the first episode Edric of the Spacing Guild has to be about the most impressive CGI alien to have ever graced a TV show. But, sadly not all of the effects are up to this level. Effects that aren't believable include the scene of the worm capture - the water looks false as it cascades down the slopes. Also the Caladan interior looks too reflective - no surprise to discover that this was also constructed on a computer. However, on the whole the effects are staggering. Not only that, but the lighting and costumes are also impressive. The director of photography has framed almost every scene as though it was a photo in its own right - with atmospheric lighting (usually of one of the primary colours).

Episode two opens with a homage to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. A craft is almost swallowed by one of the Dune worms in a scene not unlike the asteroid field scene in The Empire Strikes Back. This was also one of the rare light-hearted moments in the production, which at times is a little too pretentious.

The inclusion of famous stars (Susan Sarandon, Alice Krige and Steven Berkoff) help to give this a wider audience too. And their inclusion also helps to up the acting stakes, which were a little ropey in the first series.

Also, apart from the fact they can charge more money, I'd love to know why this has been spread across three discs? It would have easily fitted on two DVDs. And the only extra is a making of featurette, which for some strange reason is on the first disc. As all the episodes are of equal length wouldn't it have made more sense to have included this on the final disc?

Put despite these moans this is still an excellent collection. If you liked the first series then you'll love this.

Darren Rea

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