Good Vibrations

Something big is coming…

When it was announced that the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise was written and would be made into a major motion picture, I was excited. But cautiously optimistic because of what transpired in Jurassic Park III (great individual scenes, but some of the casting…). Then, it was revealed that Steven Spielberg co-wrote this new script and would be executive producing once again. This news should have been treated as massively substantial, considering that Jurassic Park III debuted in the summer of 2001. Thirteen years have passed (along with the franchise’s author Michael Crichton in 2008) and it would have been completely understandable if this dinosaur franchise had ended as a trilogy.

It won’t, and it’s likely because the script/story this time is really, really good…like, possibly 1990s good. Ever since learning the title would be Jurassic World a year or so ago, I’ve had a theory about the tightly-guarded plot.

Here it is:

Cognizant that it is not called Jurassic Park 4 or Jurassic Park IV: _____, this hinted at a return to the original 1993 blockbuster masterpiece. This new movie was not going to be just another sequel or be sequential to the third movie. More than a decade had passed and those involved in the franchise are acutely aware of the amazing reaction to the original and the following two movies (a slow tumble from one to the next). If a fourth film would be made, it had to have a spectacularly epic script that reconnected fans with why they loved Jurassic Park from the start (plus, remember the title). Fans have wanted a fourth film, but only if it did justice to the original with its perfect story, cast of characters, larger than life consequences (good and bad) and dinosaur-size surprises. The year it’s been presented for release has been ~ 20 years since the original (21 to be exact). Last year (year 20) was dedicated to its amazing 3-D re-release, which was a magnificent triumph. Then, a picture was posted on Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow’s twitter account that showed a picture of dirt and leaves covering the “East Dock” arrow sign that Dennis Nedry famously crashed into with his Jurassic Park jeep in the torrential downpour with the caption, “Autumn.” This was back in late September of this year.

All of this, plus the previous and obvious reluctance to quickly make a fourth film after reaction from the third one, has, for a long time led me to believe that Jurassic World would be a direct throwback to the original Jurassic Park that is intended to play on the incredible and loving nostalgia of the 1993 cinematic wonder and the fact that fans like myself went crazy over the movie and the official Jurassic Park merchandise.

So I thought, “How do you play on 1993 nostalgia from the original along with the insane popularity of the toys, t-shirts, backpacks, stuffed animals, etc.?”

It meant that someone/some group had finally built a Jurassic Park for real! And when the poster was released with the tagline that read “The Park is Open” above the date of June 12th (FYI – the original was released June 11, 1993), that seemed like a serious confirmation of my long-hypothesized theory.

Then, today, the first teaser trailer of sorts hit the web. Does anything look familiar?

While the first “official” trailer is expected for Thanksgiving (November 27th), everything seems to be lining up for a genuine Jurassic World theme park based on/closely with the inspiration of genetics dreamer John Hammond!

If the rumored trailer next week solidifies my theory, then it will make millions of cinematic dreams come true and literally give new meaning to the appropriately altered phrase, “Welcome to Jurassic World!”

A trembling cup of water has never looked this epic.

That ’80s Thanksgiving

Spoiler Alert: Content in this blog is from the November 19, 2014 episode of The Goldbergs

Duck hunting + Jazzercise + a martini for Pops = Thanksgiving

The Goldbergs celebrate Thanksgiving like most families in America, which includes every color combination of spandex, an unrivaled Power Glove and the desire to gravitate towards the people and things we truly are thankful for. So, fittingly, there’s plenty of chaos, turmoil and hilarity.

“By 9:00 a.m. we’ll be elbow deep in a 20 lb. Butterball!”   

Erica insists/flat-out tells her mom Beverly that she doesn’t want anything to do with a Goldbergs Thanksgiving and that she plans to spend the day at her friend Lainey’s house. This causes a glorious overreaction from the Jazzercising Beverly, which results in fantastic mother-daughter battles for the heart of Thanksgiving.

Aside from the main characters, Uncle Marvin is a wonderful dynamic in this sitcom paradise and impressionable Adam is his excited protégé. Perhaps blinded by the futuristic technology known as “the beeper,” Adam and Barry are mesmerized by the coolness of their uncle who just randomly stops by in his DeLorean (yes, the inspiration for the time machine), but his shared interests in classic ’80s movies, the Nintendo gaming system and its powerful glove thrilled Adam to his core. In fact, the aforementioned Power Glove was a gift from Uncle Marvin! Adam finally had a partner in-crime/agent for his national video game domination.

The Nintendo Power Glove: “Everything else is child’s play”

Seeing the remarkable connection between his youngest son and his uncle, Murray (with guidance from Pops) chose to show interest in Adam’s favorite activity at that moment: video games. Unfortunately, age recommendations are marked for a reason on technology like Nintendo, especially for people who don’t pause first before looking/slamming for the pause button. Sadly, in this situation, the essential wires in the Power Glove got the harshest of beat downs. That is, until Barry put it on and stuck it up a turkey’s ass while preparing the delicious bird for dinner.

Barry never disappoints.

Despite this tragedy, what hurt Adam more than his unusable Power Glove was the fact that his dad Murray didn’t understand the reason why he loved hanging out with his Uncle Marvin so much. Adam admired Uncle Marvin because, unlike everybody else, he understood him. He didn’t make fun of him or belittle his favorite things. He spoke his language of dreaming amazingly big, making the impossible possible, all with a contagiously wild imagination.

This got Murray thinking. It was time for a power nap.

Even after Erica survived a Marine’s Jazzercise session and the most illegal/entertaining speed walking race in history, Pops (there he is again…) let her in on a little secret about her mom and his late wife that involved family recipes and a special connection in age when being introduced to the hectic universe of preparing Thanksgiving dinner with one’s mother. So, like a Goldberg, after exhausting every fiber of her being to refuse some ridiculous activity with her family, Erica finally used those precious beats in her heart as the deciding votes.

Dinner will be served: Goldbergs style.

Eventually, Murray came to see that video games were not really just about the games, but instead about connecting with his son. The result was a father and son spending the afternoon shooting ducks…on Nintendo (Shout out to “Duck Hunt!”). But a dad playing video games with his son is something I can relate to. When I was Adam’s age, my dad also played sports video games with me. This experience was great because he showed an enthusiastic interest in something I really enjoyed. And, just like Adam and Murray, a couple buttons always seemed to break when our fathers played these video games together, but it was definitely worth it.

After all the craziness of that day from cooking a perfect Thanksgiving dinner, Beverly and Erica expressed their bonding experience in the kitchen like something straight out of a Hallmark card:

“We kicked Thanksgiving’s ass!”

Yes you did Goldbergs, yes you did…

And, if you’re like me, when you think of Thanksgiving and family, John Parr, a “man in motion” and St. Elmo’s Fire immediately comes to mind (it did for show creator Adam F. Goldberg)

I’m thankful for The Goldbergs (and my family too!)

Where’s My Bike?

A starry dream realized.

Arguably one of the (if not the) best paintings in history is “Starry Night” by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. The swirling images, as told with brush strokes of vivid, other-worldly colors, has mesmerized generations of art lovers and casual viewers alike. This masterpiece has an eternally transcendent quality and that’s why tributes to this famous painting resonate so powerfully.

Someone even dared to take a stroll on this world renowned classic.

“In the Dutch town of Eindhoven, artist Daan Roosegaarde has paid homage to its most famous resident, Vincent Van Gogh, by creating a glowing bike path that relies on solar-powered LED lights and interprets his classic painting Starry Night” (NPR, In a Dutch Town, A Glowing Bike Path Inspired By Van Gogh).

You can close your eyes and imagine what this wild vision would look like, or you can just click on the video below:

You can ride your bike or take a romantic stroll on this glowing masterpiece.

Either way, talk about following a path to the stars.

A Stellar Experience

(The Hollywood Reporter)

(The Hollywood Reporter)

“Wow…just, wow.”

That was my initial reaction while walking out of an IMAX theater in Columbus, Ohio on November 7th following a nearly 3-hour space journey that, like many of the great artists of the modern era, requires only a single name: Interstellar. The director and co-writer, (we could go with one name, but since brothers are involved) Christopher Nolan is famous for his incredible physical sets/playgrounds, realism and grit, amazing, star-studded) casting and complex stories that have more satisfying twists and turns than one can ever hope to imagine.

Interstellar fulfills all these “Nolan prerequisites” and manages to take it one step higher…if not two.

The science in this science fiction epic is based on work by renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne of Caltech, who also served as an executive producer. The science and intergalactic travel juxtaposed with the emotional relationship of farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his two children Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and his relentlessly inquisitive daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) will pull and tug at your heart strings.

FYI – I firmly believe in maintaining movie plot secrets, so, therefore, the intent of this review of sorts is not to reveal any spoilers, but to attempt to put this film into some concise perspective, which for anyone who has seen it, is no easy task.

Interstellar is a movie about exploration, desperation, family, the unknown, love, adventure, solitude, scientific theory, hope, the dynamics of space travel, heartache and pushing oneself to a myriad of limits. Plus, a perfectly placed surprise here and there…Set in the near future, the broad-ranging inspiration for the story and main character Cooper is something he says while sitting alongside his father in-law Donald (John Lithgow) on their dust covered porch late one night: “We used to look at up at the sky and wonder about our place in the stars…now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

From the metaphorical curtain rise to the curtain close, this movie is a cinematic labyrinth that will launch its audience through a wormhole of expected and unexpected visuals and circumstances that ultimately gels into an unforgettable experience that is genuinely out of this world, yet deeply rooted in this one. It will hit seemingly every nerve you’ve got for 3 hours for something that feels real and surreal at the same time.

And bridging the real and surreal on the silver screen is, in essence, Christopher Nolan. He does this with the help of his superb wife and business partner Emma Thomas, their production company team (Syncopy Films Inc.) and we cannot forget about Nolan’s screenwriting partner and television producing brother Jonah Nolan. Interstellar was a Nolan family film through and through. Add in a brilliant, cosmically pulsating musical score from good friend and composing partner Hans Zimmer and you quickly realize you are part of something supremely grand.

Quick takeaways: Interstellar is an epic journey, every actor and actress’ performance is the real deal, Mackenzie Foy will damn near bring you to tears and this is a visual and audible experience that showcases what making and seeing movies is all about.

After processing everything featured on Earth and in the film’s multiple galaxies, my verdict (after two IMAX viewings) is simply this:

Wow…I love it.

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