I'm confused by the armadillo comment. Was that in an early part of the script? Were the armadillos really big or average sized? It would be a weird coincidence if the armadillos were the size of the worms, since I've worked on a Herbertarian-veined satire with such critters.
I'd have to agree with Freak on the fighting. I understand the reasons of the filmmakers for not pulling it off, but having them at least try to pull off the Weirding Way as a fighting style instead of a sonic sound projectile would have been cheaper than the Weirding Modules. Their fighting choreography isn't perfect, but judging from the few fighting scenes the film had, it probably would have been a better alternative.
Still, from devil's advocate view, if you hadn't had the Weirding Modules, or Dune being pulled off in this weird way, then we wouldn't have the Sonic Tanks for Dune II, or any of the Dune games, or a good bulk of sci-fi culture. And I admit in my helplessly dorkish way that I am fond of the Modules and how they were implemented. Even though those weapons are impractical for Arrakian use (all those Weirding blasts would summon more worms than a body shield), the Module itself is an interesting concept for a weapon.
I personally have much affection for the original Dune film, including the Smithee cut. I watched my parents' recording of the extended version at a young age, and while I didn't understand it all, I perceived it as like watching a dream being put on film... Though I felt then that there were many ambiguities to the story which I didn't understand yet: I mistook Chani for Jessica, and didn't quite understand why the Baron was the villain, but that's another story.
Seeing the theatrical version later on, I understood the plot better even without the extra scenes, but I still felt something was missing. I interpreted the montage where Irulan compresses time and describes Alia as a sign that there were more scenes intended for the spot in the film, but I was mistaken after seeing the extended cut. I watched the movie multiple times before I read Dune, but it didn't spoil the book for me. Getting a sense of the story beforehand made me appreciate the novel even more, because there were so many details and scenes missing from the film. Particularly the characterization, since the film limited much of the complexity implied about the characters in the film.
Here is a list of things I did like in the film version:
-The art design
-The presentation Navigators
-The Guildsman, with his body bag costume, and translator microphone
-The additional subplot where the Navigators know what Paul is intending to do
-Paul's dream sequences
-Livia from I, Claudius as Mohiam, and her freaky performance
-Francesca Annis as Jessica
-The actor playing Thufir with the thick eyebrows (I used to think his name was Thufa, or Fufa, because of how his name was pronounced by the Baron)
- Al from Quantum Leap as Yueh
-Max Von Sydow as Liet
-The special effects (excepting some scenes where the effects don't look pretty)
-The Baron's make-up, and very particular performance
-Alia: "My brother is coming with many Fremen wawriors!" "For he is the Kwithatz Hadewach!" "Wait for my brotha, Baron!"
-The rolling waves of Caladan
-The blue-within-blue eyes
-Paul shouting at Mohiam, and breaking Feyd's body and the ground with his Weirding voice
-"I am the Shadout Mapes, the House Keeper." Linda Hunt and her voice. I love imitating her.
-"I have enlightened your nephews concerning my plan--" "MY PLAN!" "...THE Plan." How the Baron and Piter talk to each other.
-Jean Luc Picard as Gurney, and how he performs across Kyle
-The rain scene (yes, I know it doesn't work in the context of the original novel, but it still is a cool scene)
-Paul and Feyd's fight: "I will kill you! I WILL KILL HIM!"
--Duke Leto, and his very German English
-Pretty much the rest of the cast
-The Hunter Seeker scene
-"You are so beautiful my Baron!" The Baron's doctor
-Admittedly, the Weirding Module training scene
-The Water of Life sequence, where the Worms worship Paul when he is in pain (kind of an homage to Children of Dune)
-The ending credits, with the cast presentation, the ocean waves, and Toto's music
What I didn't like:
-Plot hole: if the Navigators could see that Paul was a threat to them, why couldn't they see that he would survive. And if they knew he was alive (as in the case when the Guildsman claimed "he won't drink the Water of Life"), why didn't they tell the Emperor? It's an added layer of complication which needed to be worked out better
-The absence of much of Dune's original story, subplots, and characterization
-Barely any sex scenes between Paul and Chani (the John Harrison miniseries remedied that very well)
-A majority of night scenes being too dark to see in, with an overabundance of muddy colors
-No indication that the Arakeen had any Fremen locales, other than servants
--Stilgar's sietch seems to only wear their Stilsuits and not much else. We don't have much sense of the Fremen community and how they operate
-Irulan narrates the story, but we don't understand why she would Paul's story reverently since he overthrew her father, or why she harbors no jealousy for Chani
-The sense that there was much more to the story that they were intentionally leaving out.
-Even with the extended cut, there were still many more scenes which the movie needed to make the story more complete
In conclusion, I like it very much, but I'm still nagged by its shortcomings. I don't think it is a complete failure. As an ambiguous experimental sci-fi film, it has tons of aspects which I admire. It's main problem is incompleteness, which would've be rectified if the film were allowed to be longer. That, or cut down to the most important parts of the story.
Instead of dwelling what they should have or did not do, I'd rather learn from the mistakes of Lynch's Dune (as well as those from Jodorowsky's Dune and Harrison's Dune) if another Dune film ever gets made... Or at least a fan made film, if that sort of thing ever gets allowed.
'...all those who took part in the rise and fall of the Dune project learned how to fall one and one thousand times with savage obstinacy until learning how to stand. I remember my old father who, while dying happy, said to me: "My son, in my life, I triumphed because I learned how to fail."' -Alejandro Jodorowsky