News from Variety that Paramount is moving ahead with yet another adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune prompts the question in this item’s title. Obviously, I disagree with my colleague Marc Bernardin on this one. His argument is that filmmakers should try again because the previous two versions (the 1984 big-screen adaptation, which frustrated the creative gifts of even a director as visionary as David Lynch and left most viewers with unsettling visions of Sting in a silver Speedo; and the 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, which didn’t stumble as much) didn’t quite get it right. He’s correct, but unlike Marc, I don’t think the third time will be the charm. For one thing, Peter Berg isn’t the director I’d trust with a sprawling fantasy epic; he seems more the type for gritty, real-world dramas (The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights). Second, I think the Sci-Fi Channel version is about as close as we’re going to get to Herbert’s original vision. The book is a sweeping epic that needs more time and space than a feature allows; at the same time, it’s a culty, arcane tale, full of byzantine galactic political and economic intrigue of the sort that not even George Lucas could make cinematically compelling in The Phantom Menace. The Sci-Fi Channel was probably the right place for it, not the multiplex.
What say you, PopWatchers? Am I being too pessimistic? Does Berg deserve the benefit of the doubt? Or should Herbert fans just call it a day and make do with the Dunes they’ve got?