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The Force of Nature That is Pam Grier

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If you were to ask any director who’s worked with the legendary Pam Grier they would likely tell you that having Pam on their set is a game changer. She knows what she wants and what she brings to the table. Just stand back and watch the force that is Pam.

Throughout our conversation she made it clear that clinging to her perfectly proportioned black Barbie superhero past doesn’t interest her. It’s a lovely time capsule that will be well documented in biopic about her life based on her autobiography Foxy (Grand Central Publishing) that is currently in pre-production.

These days Pam is focused on roles that represent mature, well rounded women living their authentic lives and not hiding behind a veneer of glam. Even stripped down to the studs, Pam Grier still exudes sensuality that leads men of all ages to her like the Pied Piper.

In her first network sitcom role in Bless This Mess (ABC, 9:30/8:30c), Grier plays Constance, the local fix-it-all and know-it-all in small town Nebraska. She is the brilliant and funny foil to Dax Shepard and Lake Bell’s transplanted Manhattanite characters, Mike and Rio. We witness Shepard and Bell’s characters stumble and bumble through middle-American culture and country life through the eyes of Grier’s amusement, as Ed Begley Jr.’s character, Rudy, tirelessly pursues her.

Grier will also appear on the big screen alongside Diane Keaton and Rhea Perlman in Poms (out May 10th), a comedy about a group of women in a retirement community who reclaim their vigor and spice through starting a cheerleading squad.

BLESS THIS MESS – “Pilot” – This new single-camera comedy follows newlyweds Rio and Mike as they make the decision to move from big city New York to rural Nebraska. After dropping everything (including their jobs and overbearing mother-in-law) to make the move from skyscrapers to farmhouses, they soon realize that the simpler life isn’t as easy as they planned. Rio and Mike must now learn how to weather the storm as they are faced with unexpected challenges in their new life as farmers. The ABC Television Network will premiere the new single-camera comedy “Bless This Mess” on TUESDAY, APRIL 16 (9:30-10:00 p.m. EDT). (ABC/John Fleenor)
ED BEGLEY JR., PAM GRIER

TME: Let’s talk about your new show, Bless This Mess. Is this your first time doing a network sitcom?

Pam Grier: Let’s see…yes, I do believe so. There was one with Michael J. Fox that was short lived, but I think this was the first one where it allows me to work with creatives like [the show’s creator] Elizabeth Meriwether and [actress and co-creator] Lake Bell. I said to them, “Out here as country women, we take our Spanx off.” I took my Spanx off and I did some chores before I came in to see them [for the role]. I was a little dusty and I smelled of barn and John Deere fuel. I smelled the part, so that helped (laughs).

TME: People don’t know that about you. You’re a country western girl. That’s how you live when you’re not working.

PG: My upbringing had been military, rural and urban. It was the best of all worlds. I’ve learned from each aspect of my culture and I see the world through women who were offered the opportunity to be equals. My grandfather was the first feminist in my life. He was from Wyoming. He was my mom’s dad, and his mom had a sugar beet farm. She was a single mom and they had a hotel for African- Americans, Native Americans and other people of color to stay in. He was accustomed to seeing independent women learn how to do things. He taught all his granddaughters how to be self-sufficient.

TME: What are some of the most notable things your grandfather taught you?

PG: He taught all of us to hunt, fish, shoot, drive the tractor, bring the boat in, change tires and spark plugs… you name it. That way you could always survive, without waiting for someone to take care of you. Since I’ve been in film, since the seventies, this is something that’s prepared me. When you’re working in film, and then you’re not working and you are home, how can you maximize taking care of your home and taking care of yourself, your family, your animals? I’ve had that and I bring that energy and information to my character, Constance, on this show. And my character wears a lot of hats.

TME: You’re not known for comedy. Did they think you could be funny?

PG: Yes, but Lake was talking about how she was afraid of cows. I said, “Cows won’t hurt you, but if you come at a cow with a knife and a fork, you might have a problem (laughs). I would tell stories about things I would do if there’s a mountain lion outside attacking my chicken coop and stuff like that. I would tell people not to go for long country walks in the night if there is no light. This is Jurassic Park for real. But what they really wanted to know about was the concept of inclusion, which is what this show is really about. My character is a sheriff, she owns the vehicle lumber yard, the hardware store; she’s the theatre director, she sings, she knows everyone’s business, she’s the referee. Sometimes she has to pull people out of a ditch with her truck.

PPLA: How do you feel Bless This Mess handles inclusion, as far as steering clear of urban stereotypes of middle America?

PG: I mentioned to Lake [Bell], when they didn’t have a script and they had no idea what they might do or write. I said to her, “There is one thing I must implore you, and that is not to make fun of the heartland.” People go to the heartland to find their hearts. I believe that the farmer is the hero or heroine of the day. They should be in every magazine, all the time. I’m a member of the Farmland Trust, and we try to keep people aware that farming should be organic, across the board. In Canada they know how to successfully do that. Here in the U.S., they have kept the subsidies and the information for the farmers away from them.

TME: Ed Begley Jr. plays your love interest. How’s the chemistry between you too when you are working together?

PG: He can sing, he can dance… he’s got a bag of tricks! He and his wife Rachelle had me over to their home the first week, for dinner. Ed did a lot of the cooking, and he is exceptional. They are just two peas in a pod. The nicest people; they finish each other’s sentences. He is so informative. You want to sit at his feet like he is Yoda. Ed is sustainable, he’s a mad scientist, and he can teach you. We were talking about farming and growing and dirt and moisture and oxidization and nutrients in the soil to create a great bed for plants. We really enjoy that aspect of our relationship.

TME: Your career has done a 180. You’re playing this quirky country role in Bless This Mess, and this month you are also in the film Poms with Diane Keaton and Rhea Perlman where you are poking fun at getting older. As someone who was an icon of sex appeal and glamour, how did that play a role, not just in your earlier career, but in your life? And how are you now processing going through the different stages of life?

PG: I’ve always controlled my image for political, religious and spiritual purposes, and I’ve embraced aging. When I met Robert De Niro with his first wife, Diahnne Abbott, he was gaining weight in order to play Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. We were in his kitchen talking and I said to him, “I would like to gain weight for my roles.” Because as a woman, society responds differently to your weight and to your appearance, and your sex appeal. I guess in certain cultures if you are not a standard size 4 or 6 you’re not considered attractive. There are psychological aspects towards that. The younger, slimmer and more youthful looking you are, the better for child bearing and maybe you’re thought to be more sexual or whatever. I love the fact that people do respond differently when I am a size twelve than when I am a size four; completely different dynamic and really interesting to me.

TME: People perceive that the more attractive you are considered by society, the easier that opportunities and good things will come your way. Why would you want to forfeit that?

PG: When I did the play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and I gained weight to play that role, I wanted to do that role and the producer said you should see Kathy Bates play this role. When I went to see her and I saw that she had this beautiful weight on her, which is very normal in certain cultures, while in other cultures not as acceptable, I just thought she was so stunningly beautiful. It brought a certain element and richness to her character. I don’t know what it was, but I just felt this couple in love [in the show]. It was amazing. I thought, “If I can just reach half the energy she portrayed, I would be grateful. At the time I thought, “I’m really skinny. I run seven miles a day. How do I do this.”

 

BLESS THIS MESS – ABC’s “Bless This Mess” stars Pam Grier as Constance. (ABC/John Fleenor)

TME: You were known and celebrated for being beautiful, fit and strong.

PG: Well, Robert De Niro had said it would be different for me as a woman. He said to me, “You’ll lose your attractiveness in society.” I said, “You know what? I’m controlling it. This is my work. This is my dream.” I put on forty pounds. My body changed, and people reacted to me differently than when you’re young and skinny. But you know what? When you have a little more weight on, yet you are still attractive, your skin is clear and your hair is well groomed, you’re still going to get some doors opened for you.

TME: Are you comfortable in your skin at any weight?

PG: At any weight. I can gain weight and lose weight, if I have to, for whatever reason. I remember when I was meeting with Spike Lee for a role while I was still doing Frankie and Johnny. When he saw me with weight on, he said, “Wow! You’re a little bit heavier than I thought. Are you okay? Are you sick?” He didn’t know I was doing a play. I told him it was appropriate for the character, and that it’s working. I didn’t want people to come and see someone skinny and exotic looking and have them not see and hear [my] work.

TME: I am truly surprised by your point of view. It makes me wonder if people really knew you at the height of your fame.

PG: I don’t know if it’s psychological or just human nature, but people are used to seeing certain imagery in advertising continuously, so that’s their filter. If I didn’t gain the weight, I wouldn’t have gotten that job. And women in this business won’t gain weight because they’re afraid of not working. They want to be attractive and have that value. I’m a person that doesn’t look at weight and judge what’s beautiful and what’s not. I do know that these heavier actors and actresses are always working. Their work is fantastic, and you see this wisdom, you see this value. I know there is a designation within society about who is going to be wise and who isn’t; who is going to be stupid. But let me tell you, maybe because I’ve had a sexuality and I still do now, it’s kind of interesting that these young men in their forties are attempting to court me.

TME: This morning, someone said to me, “Tell her I love her. Tell her I think she is amazing.” I said, “Take a number!”

PG: (Laughs) Way back when women had weight on them, they were zaftig and Rubenesque, and very appealing to a lot of men. A lot of rugged, handsome men would have a woman that would be very zaftig, and not thin. They didn’t believe thin women could do anything, and they would be hungry all the time. If a woman can do something, a man will have more respect for her. Maybe when I was younger, men assumed that I just went shopping and sat around by the pool and didn’t do much. Then they’d be shocked to see me changing my tire, fixing screens, putting the fence up, pushing manure and rock. Sometimes I would say to men, “What do you need? Don’t have me have to fix this for you.”

TME: Is that how you are in relationships? Are you the kind of woman who likes to do everything for herself?

PG: Oh, no. I’m a partner. Whoever can do it for me, I’m game and I’m a listener. I love to listen. I am a researcher, but if you know more, then by all means share it. I don’t have to do everything. But if it is life and death, I’m the person.  At home, in all my fields, I have fire extinguishers because people flick their cigarettes out, and in a time of global warming fires are starting on the side of the road and burning up entire communities.

TME: They could have used you in California.

PG: People have sprinklers on the inside of their homes. They should have them on the outside of their homes. Turn them on, wet down your property and leave. At least it will be so wet that the embers won’t land on your house or around your house and burn it down. At the very least, it’s a retardant. It will slow it down, if it won’t completely stop it. I live in a forest and I am responsible for six animals. I’m responsible for not starting a fire and burning down everyone else’s home and killing people. Aside from the comedy, that’s also what our show is about. Having fun, enjoying and respecting our naturally occurring resources.

TME: And having a sense of responsibility for the earth, our ecosystem, our land and other people.

Pam Grier: People are fear-based because they have given up a lot of their own confidence and strength to other people. “Here, handle my politics, do my taxes, you take care of me.” And then when other people mess up, they feel victimized by the person they gave their power over to. People don’t even realize how much power they have. They have acquiesced; they’ve given it away. I’m around people here in Colorado (where Grier lives most of the year) who’ve never flown before. They’ve only seen black people on television. When they meet me, they go, “Oh, she’s just like us.” It’s astonishing. I can’t criticize them, but they are so glad to meet me and to know that everything’s going to be alright, that I’m not gonna open up a meth lab down the road. When they get to know me, it shifts for them in an instant. They realize that whoever told them, or whatever perception they had that was negative about other cultures, is now gone.

 

BLESS THIS MESS – “Pilot” – This new single-camera comedy follows newlyweds Rio and Mike as they make the decision to move from big city New York to rural Nebraska. After dropping everything (including their jobs and overbearing mother-in-law) to make the move from skyscrapers to farmhouses, they soon realize that the simpler life isn’t as easy as they planned. Rio and Mike must now learn how to weather the storm as they are faced with unexpected challenges in their new life as farmers. The ABC Television Network will premiere the new single-camera comedy “Bless This Mess” on TUESDAY, APRIL 16 (9:30-10:00 p.m. EDT). (ABC/John Fleenor)
LAKE BELL (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER/DIRECTOR), PAM GRIER

TME: You’ve been in show business now for about 50 years?

PG: Fifty years, plus. My career is older than you!

TME: (Laughs) How do you want your body of work to be studied? Because it will be studied in years to come?

PG: It already is studied, and they always tell me I’m a master class or thesis, and I’m going, “Whoa. Oh boy!” I’ll tell you this, when I started doing stunts, that I’m feeling the pain from now, I didn’t have a sports bra and it was a lot harder to be very physical and authentic. I don’t want to be remembers as being perfect. I want to be remembered as being real.

TME: You are thought to be the first African-American female to headline action films. Where are your successors? Where is the next Pam Grier?

PG: They’re probably out there limping, as I did. They got hurt and said, “Don’t wanna do that again!” I was a gymnast and I skied; I ran track. Anything to keep from doing the dishes, I loved. You have to have a little bit of that in your nature to be that physical. Not everyone is, or can be. You might be able to act the part, but If they didn’t have that in their upbringing, they may not be following in my footsteps. Right now I see some white actresses like Charlize Theron and Rachel Weisz, who I never thought would do martial arts and stunts and action movies, who really enjoy them. But they did say they got a couple of “ow-ies,” and they don’t know if they will do it again. Not everybody is rushing into doing that kind of physical work.

TME: Is there any type of role you wouldn’t take on, because it’s not in your wheelhouse?

PG: I was sexually attacked and raped at the age of 6, and then again at 18 in college, and then there was a third attack that I fought off. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I didn’t understand it. But I know that I cannot portray that in a movie, because I don’t want to revisit those moments and emotions.

A lot of actresses who will be up for the casting to play me in the film of my life, many of them may have had those same experiences and won’t be able to re-live them, okay? Not everyone can do that; not everyone wants to re-visit that. If they can, it will be fantastic, but I know that I have had to turn down roles that have those kinds of attacks, because I couldn’t do it. I had to pass. There were major directors and producers through the years, where they didn’t know why I was passing, but I just passed. I knew I might snap. I don’t know if I can go there. Not every actor can play every role, and there is a reason, and it may be private.

 

BLESS THIS MESS – “Predators” – Rio is having trouble adjusting to social and cultural differences between New York and Nebraska, resulting in a few awkward encounters. Through their wild chase to catch an unwanted predator that is after their chickens, Mike and Rio soon convince Rudy and Beau to step out of their comfort zones by getting them to express their feelings on an all-new episode of ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” TUESDAY, MAY 7 (9:00-9:30 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/John Fleenor)
PAM GRIER

TME: But you are enjoying having audiences get to know the part of you that shines as Constance on Bless This Mess.

PG: I’m sharing my rural side, my military side, my pragmatic side and my sexy side in this wonderful role that has been bestowed upon me by actress and co-creator Lake Bell and [co-creator] Elizabeth Meriwether; and ABC and Fox and Disney. They support me greatly, they listen to me, and they laugh at some of the funny things I do. Even the way I came into my initial meeting with them, all stinky from doing chores. Who does that?

TME: That’s not so much method acting as it is the real Pam Grier! You’re a roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty kind of woman.

PG: That’s right. For fifty years of my career, I would commute. I would come off the plane ready to work, in character, and I was very serious about my work. I couldn’t do all the roles because I’m tall. For example, I couldn’t play Tina Turner, because I was 5’9″ and she’s 5’1″. I’m not going to get roles where the characters are diminutive. I was always asked why I didn’t play Tina Turner. I’m actually, like, a foot taller than Tina. I’d be the tallest Tina Turner in the world. Like Geena Davis and a lot of my peers who are tall, we don’t get a lot of the roles with husbands and love stories, because of our height and the perception that the husband should be taller than the woman.

TME: This interview reminds me of how film directors will say that sometimes they’ll have an actor on set, and they know the best thing they can do is get out of their way and just let them do their thing. With this interview, I couldn’t direct you. You directed the interview, but I learned a whole lot and I thank you!

PG: Well, I love to share and I love to teach. I’ve got a PhD. from the University of Maryland in the Humanities, and an honorary degree in Science from Langston University in Agriculture. It’s who I am.

 

Watch “Bless This Mess,” starring Lake Bell, Dax Shepard, Pam Grier and Ed Begley Jr. on ABC, Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c. Pam will also star in “Poms” with Diane Keaton and Rhea Perlman, in theatres Friday, May 10th. Follow her on Twitter @PamGrier

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Scrubs Reunion: The Band Gets Back Together

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Fans of the beloved medical comedy series Scrubs were recently treated to a thrilling surprise when John C. McGinley, who portrayed the iconic Dr. Perry Cox, dropped a photo on Twitter hinting at a potential reunion project. The image, showing McGinley alongside his former co-stars, sparked a wave of excitement and speculation among fans who have been longing for more adventures with the beloved Sacred Heart Hospital staff.

While details about the reunion project are still scarce, the mere possibility of seeing the gang back together again has sent waves of nostalgia through fans who fondly remember the show’s original run from 2001 to 2010. Scrubs was not just a sitcom; it was a heartfelt exploration of friendship, love, and the chaotic world of medicine, all wrapped up in a quirky and often hilarious package.

At the heart of the show was the bromance between JD (played by Zach Braff) and Turk (played by Donald Faison), whose antics and deep bond served as the emotional anchor for the series. Their dynamic, along with the sage wisdom (and relentless sarcasm) of Dr. Cox, provided viewers with memorable moments that have stood the test of time.

As we eagerly await more news about the Scrubs reunion project, one thing is for sure: it’s time to dust off those old DVDs, rewatch our favorite episodes, and get ready to welcome back our favorite gang of doctors, nurses, and janitors for what promises to be a memorable reunion.

But Scrubs was more than just its main characters. The supporting cast, including the eccentric Janitor (played by Neil Flynn), the neurotic Elliot (played by Sarah Chalke), and the wise-cracking nurse Carla (played by Judy Reyes), each brought their own unique flavor to the show, creating a rich tapestry of characters that fans grew to love.

While the photo shared by McGinley has fueled speculation about what the reunion project might entail, whether it’s a one-off special, a new season, or something else entirely, one thing is certain: fans are eagerly awaiting any opportunity to dive back into the world of Sacred Heart Hospital.

In an age where reboots and revivals are commonplace, Scrubs stands out as a series that has the potential to recapture the magic that made it a fan favorite in the first place. With its blend of humor, heart, and unforgettable characters, a reunion project has the opportunity to not only satisfy longtime fans but also introduce a new generation to the joys of life at Sacred Heart.

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WonderCon 2024:Day One

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Dune Part Two: The Lisan Al Gaib comes for you!

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Welcome back to our struggle for control of the known universe already in progress, the continuation of the journey of Paul Atreides from exile to Emperor, Dune Part Two

So when we last left our intrepid if dubious heroes, House Atreides had been betrayed and virtually destroyed, by a combination of House Harkonnens surprise attacks and the added treachery of Emperor Shaddam and his Sardaukar. Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), the last surviving heir (so far) of House Atreides and his mother Jessica, have taken refuge on the desert planet of Arrakis amongst the indigenous Fremen, and as far as most are aware, the other remnants of House Atreides are dead as well. And here is where we catch up with everyone, as the struggle for Atreides emergence and dominance begins in earnest! 

The Emperor’s daughter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) is known for her many skills, but her copious note-taking and writings on the large events shaping her world come to the forefront as she takes counsel with her father amidst games of chance on their homeworld. Her life is one of luxury and privilege but alas, Irulan is a trained Bene Gesserit and is well aware that in all likelihood, she will be used as a pawn in the marriage games empires have to go through. Bet she never imagined it could be to a House everyone swore had been utterly destroyed. 

Meanwhile, on Arrakis, Paul is trying to integrate himself into the Fremen way of life, which is admittedly far different from the life he led back on the Atreides homeworld of Caladan. (If nothing else, Caladan has vast oceans.) The Fremen are fiercely independent, gloriously strong fighters, survivors who dare to ride and revere the giant sandworms that inhabit their planet that they call Shai-Hulud, and rightfully distrustful of outsiders. After all, the previous stewardship of Arrakis belonged to House Harkonnen, known for their cruelty and glee at hunting Fremen and torturing their victims, sometimes for weeks at a time. But Paul won his and Jessicas way into the Fremen by fair combat against Jamis, and if nothing else, the Fremen are firm in their beliefs of the old ways. 

Or rather, the elder Fremen are, most particularly the famed Fedaykin fighter and Naib (leader) of Sietch Tabr Stilgar (Javier Bardem) is adamant in his unshakable belief that Paul is the foretold Lisan Al Gaib, the Voice from the Outer World, that will lead the Fremen to peace and paradise. Stilgar’s steadfast belief in Paul’s potential only grows, and he manages with just that to convince a great many of the other Fremen elders. The younger generation of Fremen however, of which Paul’s beloved Chani (Zendaya) is a part, generally scoff at the legends of otherworldly prophets and Arrakis as a fabled green, wet heaven. In the beginning, Paul himself swears he doesn’t want to be the Messiah, only a Fremen fighter amongst the rest of them, hundreds of years of the Missionaria Protectiva, the Bene Gesserit practice of spreading useful religious propaganda as seeds on various planets, is working double-time against him. It doesn’t help that Paul’s mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is expounding on that myth as much as she possibly can. 

And why would she do that? Survival yes, but also, Jessica is a thoroughly trained Bene Gesserit and knows of plans within plans within plans. Jessica also has many secrets of her own, and one very important one happens to be that she’s pregnant with Paul’s sister. The Bene Gesserit bodily control may be something out of legend, but even Jessica, possibly Reverend Mother Mohiam’s best and most fractious student, will have trouble with the trial the Fremen are insisting she go through to become truly one of them. The Reverend Mother equivalent of Sietch Tabr, known as their Sayyadina, is old and dying, and the Fremen have to have a Reverend Mother. Jessica tells Paul this much and explains that each culture is different in their trial to become a Reverend Mother, so she honestly doesn’t know what to expect. The reality happens to be worse than she could’ve imagined – Jessica must drink the Water of Life, a deadly poison that comes from Shai-Hulud (sort of), and come out the other side of it. And Jessica manages to do it, barely, with almost all of the consequences going to the poor fetus in her womb, the girl that will grow to become Alia Atreides, an insane legend in her own right. But for now, the unnamed fetus is awake and aware and full of the memories of generations of Bene Gesserit women that came before her – before she was even born

Paul participates in razzia raids amongst the Fremen as they work to take out the spice mining operations of the Harkonnens, immerses himself in the vastly different desert culture of his chosen people, and perhaps most importantly, his romance with his beloved Chani only grows stronger. After declaring his desire to join the fierce fighter elites amongst the Fremen known as Fedaykin, Paul is told by Stilgar that he must summon and ride one of the giant sandworms, the embodiment of Shai-Hulud where the Fremen get their terrible tooth Crysknives from. And after much sendup, in a glorious scene of blinding sand and huge monstrous killer worm-riding, Paul is triumphant and riding atop the sacred creature, his Maker hooks set properly to control the great beast, waving at great distance to his fellow Fremen as Chani looks on in bemusement. 

But that’s all external, and inside Paul is beginning to become divided on what he wants to do. As Jessica pushes the Protectiva hard amongst the women and priestesses of the Fremen, she is also pushing her son to become much larger than he ever wanted to be, if nothing else a conqueror can take revenge for the destruction of House Atreides and the death of her beloved Duke Leto. Paul may have earned his place amongst the Fremen and been given new names – Usul, meaning the strength of the base of the pillar, as his private name within the Sietch; and Muad’Dib, from the small mouse survivor of the desert, well versed in desert ways, called ‘Instructor-of-Boys’ in Fremen legend, as his open-use name – but now everyone wants Paul to be something greater, and potentially more destructive, than what he currently is. It only gets worse when Paul begins to suffer prophetic dreams, and visions when he’s awake, prodding him further to his destiny as an epic conqueror of worlds. Nothing can be done for it, Paul convinces himself that he must take the Water of Life himself, to awaken the sleeping prophet inside himself, and allow him to hopefully See a path through the future. 

The problem with that plan, is that Bene Gesserit are almost exclusively all women, and only they are supposed to know how to transmute poisons internally, along with all sorts of other “witchcraft”. But Jessica has been training Paul in forbidden Bene Gesserit ways all his life, and as much as Paul might rail and even quail against it, there is no denying his incoming destiny, crushing any resistance he may have with all the force of a giant sandworm hunting a spice blow. And even when Paul has finally given in and taken the cursed substance almost mockingly called the Water of Life, it falls to another strong and prophetic in her right female in his life, his beloved Chani, to save him from himself. But even Chani can’t stop Paul’s destructive destiny as the conqueror of the known worlds, guilty of slaying millions upon millions of people in his quest for vengeance, thinly disguised as peace. 

Over on the Harkonnen homeworld of Geidi Prime, “Beast” Rabban (Dave Bautista) is disgusted and enraged at the continuing Fremen raids against the Harkonnens on Arrakis, and terrified of what his uncle the notoriously cruel Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard), will do to him in response. The Baron’s nephew Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler), heir apparent or na-Baron to House Harkonnen, demonstrates his blood-inborn savagery in a slaughter of the remnants of House Atreides gladiator-style, as his birthday celebration. Pleased with the spectacle, the Baron commands Feyd-Rautha to take control of the fight against this Fremen rebel known as Muad’dib, as Rabban is proving himself more and more useless. And any tool or toy that the Baron finds broken or unusable, is destroyed before being discarded. 

As the legend of Muad’dib grows off Arrakis and circulates among the Imperial worlds, the Emperor grinds his teeth in frustration and the Bene Gesserit, led by Reverend Mother Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling) as the Emperor’s Truthsayer, begin pushing forward their plots and machinations. Lady Margot Fenring (Lea Seydoux), a criminally underused character in this respect, demonstrates her willingness to be a pawn in Bene Gesserit machinations, but never forget, strong Bene Gesserit women have been breaking their own rules for generations. Just look at what Jessica did. 

As the raids and rebellion on Arrakis continue, both the Emperor and the Baron become more and more desperate, sending in mercenaries and smugglers in the hopes they might have more luck. And aboard one of those smuggler’s vessels happens to be an old hand at being a smuggler himself, the warrior troubadour with the scarred face given him by “Beast” Rabban himself, Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin). Reunited with his beloved Duke’s only son, Gurney finds himself swept up in the legend of Muad’dib in the making along with everyone else, though at least from Gurney’s point of view, Paul is using the messianic angle to take revenge for House Atreides. 

Finally, in an act of what could be considered the ultimate in arrogance, Emperor Shaddam Corrino himself comes to Arrakis, along with Princess Irulan and many others of his Court, the Baron, and Feyd-Rautha in tow as well, to crush this upstart Muad’dib and his Fremen warriors. Sadly for all that the powerhouse actor Christopher Walken plays him, Emperor Shaddam Corrino is shown as a doddering old man, cowed in the face of Muad’dib’s overwhelming vitality and growing-ever-stronger legend. And there is where we will end the review, for the final confrontation between all key players in the Known Universe is full of spoilers and derivations from the original opus of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune

For those of you who stuck around long enough to get to the end, after all, Dune Part Two is almost three hours long itself, if you are fans of the original novel and the zany Lynchian masterpiece that was the first Dune film, you may be disappointed or even angered at the changes made to the story for the climactic end scenes. Director Villenuve has an eye for making grand epic scenes like Paul’s sandworm ride but can be a bit scattered when it comes to piecing the story together with all the key players needing to be involved in a way that can be understood by any layman. Dune in any form is a rich, vast universe of storytelling, and even an almost three-hour-long sequel simply can’t cover every last bit that’s in the novels. But if nothing else, the film is an overwhelming feast for the eyes and should bring a whole new legion of fans to the many worlds contained within Dune

If you want to dive further into the Dune-iverse, do yourself a favor and read the Dune prequel books written by Herbert Jr. and Kevin J. Anderson. Until then, dive into the sands of Arrakis along with Shai-Hulud and scream vengeance to the skies with Paul Muad’dib Atreides in Dune Part Two, in theaters now! 

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