‘Dune’ Adaptation Goes To ‘Taken’ Director Pierre Morel

We’ve known for awhile now that Peter Berg is going to be too busy with other commitments — like “Battleship” — to direct the long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel “Dune.” As they say in the book however, the Spice must flow. And flow it will, as Paramount has hired a new director to step in for Berg.

The new blood is Pierre Morel, according to a report from EW’s Hollywood Insider. director of “Taken,” the movie in which — as MTV Newsroom editor Kyle Anderson puts in — Liam Neeson shoots the entire population of France in the face. Morel also directed the parkour-flavored “District B13″ and the upcoming John Travolta-starring action flick, “From Paris With Love,” and he served as the cinematographer on popcorn action fare like “The Transporter,” “War” and “Unleashed.”

EW also reports that Paramount is on the hunt for a new writer, someone to “incorporate Morel’s vision of the project into the original draft by ’Quantum of Solace’ scribe Josh Zetumer.” The director, apparently a big fan, intends to keep his adaptation as close to the 1965 novel as possible.

I have to say, this news leaves me torn. As a rabid “Dune” fan, I’m certainly pleased that there’s some more forward momentum. And Morel is talented, no question. “Taken” wasn’t a universal success, but it’s a stylish action flick that embraces its limitations and is all the better for it. I’m just not sure what to make of this pairing.

“Dune” is a nuanced story, one that is heavy on the political intrigue. There’s action, make no mistake, but there are equal amounts of talking. It is very much a sci-fi adventure, so Morel will have to step a little bit outside of his comfort zone if he intends to stick to the book’s plot.

The good news is that his desire to keep true to Herbert’s vision pegs him as a fan, and better to have someone who really cares about the material on the adaptation than someone who doesn’t. Zetumer’s script is the next hurdle; the hunt for a new writer likely means that the original draft didn’t fall close enough to the source. For now we’ll just wait and watch for news… and check out Morel’s “From Paris With Love” on February 5 to get a better sense of what to expect from the director.

Are you a fan of the “Dune” series? Have you seen any of Morel’s efforts? Do you think he’s the right man for the job of bringing Herbert’s sci-fi classic to life (unlike David Lynch)?