As the World Lost Its Sense of Wonder and Majesty, So Did Jurassic Park

It’s now been just a hair over 25 years since Jurassic Park arrived in theaters to capture the spellbound imaginations of an entire generation of moviegoers. Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster opus took Michael Crichton’s 1990 best-seller about the rapid decline of an island theme park populated by resurrected, genetic-engineered dinosaurs and turned it into one of Hollywood’s most iconic modern movies. It was virtually everything that any viewer could want a big-budget summer movie to be: funny, breathtaking, frightening, relentless in its breathless momentum. It took a high-concept sci-fi premise (what if the dinosaurs came back?) and sprinted away with it, not only managing to inspire countless breakthroughs in realistic CGI that even films released now are still trying to match, but offering a vision of how truly great a summer blockbuster can be in the right hands.

Since then, there have been four more Jurassic Park movies, and in the interest of no further belaboring an already common point, none of them have been anywhere near as good as the original. That’s true of most long-running film franchises, to be fair, but the decline between each installment in both quality and artistic ambition is especially pronounced when it comes to the Jurassic films. It’s hard to say what’s caused it, as there are several directions in which anybody could point and have at least a little bit of a solid argument on their hands. Was it the changing times? The alterations in audience and cultural taste? The parade of subsequent filmmakers who, while mostly talented in their own right, were not Steven Spielberg? Was it the deviation from Crichton’s source novels? The invention of newer, more elaborate dinosaurs? The presence of Jimmy Fallon? Where exactly did it all go wrong?

Our simpler argument is that the Jurassic movies lost the plot after the first, when they attempted to start being all things at once to their audiences. To an end, the 25-year series has directly followed cultural shifts in America and elsewhere, to say nothing of the seismic shifts within Hollywood during that period of time. Studios got bigger and began buying each other out. Theaters went from one or two screens to a dozen or more as standard industry practice. The budgets got bigger, and with them, so too went the expectations. It wasn’t enough to have a line out the door on opening weekend; studios wanted that for the entire month. The era in which a movie could come out and draw through word of mouth was long over, but by the early ’90s, months-long hype campaigns were beginning to take shape for each major motion picture. An event movie wasn’t just big on its own; it was an event for the sake of all the ancillary profit to be made around it, from anywhere willing to keep up its own end of an endorsement deal.

Even by 1997’s The Lost World, the changes were apparent. Spielberg’s sequel still has its share of memorable setpieces and thrills, from the terrifying cold open to the climactic race through San Diego. However, that last sequence, for as goofily enjoyable as it may be, exposed The Lost World as a far less thoughtful companion piece to its predecessor. If Jurassic World could be argued as one of the best-made, most articulate B-movies ever made, The Lost World hews far closer to the schlock you might expect out of that description. The first half of the film, which once again takes place on a remote island, involves raptors being deposed through gymnastics and skilled wildlife predators being outwitted by thinly-drawn characters. The second involves a 76 gas station ball rolling down city streets as a T-Rex goes wild. In either half, The Lost World may be fun, but it’s also more than a little dumb and decidedly a letdown after the headier, more considered thrills of the original.

At least The Lost World is still fun, where much of what would follow loses that sense. Joe Johnston, a gifted journeyman filmmaker, took over for Jurassic Park III in 2001 and leaned even further into the creature-feature trappings of the franchise’s core premise. Between the infamous dream sequence and several of the dinosaur battles, the third installment descends into full-on camp at points, reducing the series’ thrills to a series of jump scares built around a half-hearted rescue operation. III is more interested in horror than action; the sense of grandeur that even the most dangerous dinos had in the original film was, by this time, almost fully substituted for terror. Dinosaurs weren’t something to marvel at; they were something to scream about until each subsequent cash-in sequel reached its end. Johnston does his best to elevate the proceedings, but by the early aughts, the Jurassic movies had already lost the plot. They weren’t films about majesty beyond the audience’s wild dreams, but instead vessels for the kind of cheap thrills that viewers can get in so many other places.

After that, it took 14 years for Universal to try again, but doing so would only push the series further ashore. Jurassic World is a gangly beast of a movie, an assemblage of old plot points and loose continuities and hybrid dinosaurs that made over $1.5 billion worldwide while also sticking a raptor-length claw into the heart of whatever sincerity remained in the franchise. From the vulgar, omnipresent product placements to the endless callbacks, there’s virtually nothing about Jurassic World that brought anything new or valuable to the table, perhaps aside from an increased awareness among child audiences of the Brookstone brand. It’s a full evening’s entertainment, full of noise and spectacle and endless CG style, but it arrives at a point in the franchise at which even Isla Nublar itself is now shaped by the fakery of so much modern non-location shooting.

Now, with this weekend’s release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, it’s hard to say where the franchise can really go from here. We’re already across the rubicon of mixed-DNA dinosaurs to the point where much of Fallen Kingdom is built around the reveal, explanation, and subsequent destruction and killing spree of the new creature, much as Jurassic World focused on the Indominus Rex. It’s a Jurassic movie for the DCEU generation, all oversaturated dark colors and glowering leads and a privileging of big onscreen Moments over actual thought or cohesion or drama. Where once Jurassic Park suggested a future full of infinite possibilities, its sequels have spent the next quarter-century proving how little imagination it actually has left for any of those possibilities.

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“Hi, Mikey!”: Child’s Play is returning as an 8-part TV series

Nobody likely expected that Chucky, a literal doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, would pervade the horror landscape like it has, but Tom Holland and Don Mancini’s 1988 slasher Child’s Play has spawned no shortage of sequels, the likes of which have experimented with a number of different tones. Now, it appears the franchise is working to stay current by pivoting from film to TV, with Mancini announcing a new series via his Twitter account.

Mancini’s provided no details aside from a silent GIF that, in the guise of a scrambled TV screen, reads “Child’s Play: The TV Series”. He did, however, tease the concept in an interview with Bloody Disgusting from earlier this year, and confirmed with the site that Brad Dourif will return as the voice of Chucky.

(Read: The 100 Scariest Movies of All Time)

The plan, according to Bloody Disgusting, is for an 8-part, hourlong series that, according to producer David Kirschner, is not a reboot, but rather a continuation of the franchise. Mancini said the series was “deliberately set up at end of the last movie,” which was last year’s Cult of Chucky.

He added, “We want to definitely signal that we are going dark, darker than ever before. It’s going to be very creepy.”

See his tweet below, and stay tuned for more details.

 

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Third Eye Blind cover Bon Iver and Queens of the Stone on new EP, Thanks For Everything

Third Eye Blind have seen no shortage of their ubiquitous radio singles covered by the young bucks (and karaoke crooners), and now the ’90s hitmakers are repaying the love. The band has announced a new covers EP called Thanks For Everything, a seven-song effort featuring some artists you wouldn’t typically see alongside 3EB.

Songs by Tim Buckley, Queens of the Stone Age, and Bon Iver are included on the album, as are artists like alternative dance singer Santigold, Pacific Northwest indie outfit Chastity Belt, and Oakland-based rockers Happy Diving. Frontman Stephan Jenkins went for some deep cuts, too, with the band covering the title track from Bon Iver’s 2009 Blood Bank EP, which few would consider to be at the forefront of Justin Vernon’s work.

“The idea with this EP was to amplify some of that music and art, and in doing so, catch inspiration for our next album,” Jenkins says in a press release, which also notes that all proceeds from the EP will benefit the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

In advance of the album’s August 24th release, the band has released “Fuck Forever”, a cover of Pete Doherty’s UK rock outfit Babyshambles. Though less consciously sloppy than Doherty’s original cut, Jenkins’ version gives it an anthemic, cathartic feel that’s no doubt born from his views on the US’s current political climate. In a press release, he says, “There’s a raised fist in this song and that’s what we need right now.” Hear it below. 

https://embed.music.apple.com/us/album/f-k-forever/1399075358?i=1399075817
https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify:track:5dVifuIBQPovc22aMeeplf

Jenkins has also shared some thoughts regarding the EP’s other covers, which you can check out below along with a video detailing the band’s collaboration with artist Uncutt, who provided the record’s artwork.

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Happy Diving — “Ten”: 
“Happy Diving sounds like a 17 year-old skater with a cast on the wrist and hair in the eyes blithe fully flying blind and smiling into a half pipe. The band is carefree and careening, and luxuriating in effortless energy, and I wanted that feeling to inhabit me. ‘I absolutely want to shag the drummer,’ my friend said. ‘Are they doing guitarmony?’ I said. This is like bliss core Thin Lizzy. They broke up shortly after. It bothers me how so few people got to hear their music. Here’s our remedy. We tracked this somewhere in Europe with big smiles on our faces.”

Santigold — “This Is Not Our Parade”:
“Some songs let you see the whole landscape. Exotic, dark and cool. I heard a rave in that song that could burst out. This was one take with everyone in the same room in Memphis at a day off at the famous Ardent Studios.”

Tim Buckley — “Song of the Siren”:
“This has to go on any list of best song ever written. Elizabeth Fraser is also my favorite singer of all time and of course her version is definitive.”

Chastity Belt — “Joke”:
“We saw Chastity Belt at a club in Berlin. The drummer had a broken shoulder. No matter, she had a quiet style anyway. In the studio, I came to grips with what a great singer Julia Shapiro is. She’s Nico of the Northwest, plus she does that cool shit on the guitar.”

Queens of the Stone Age — “In the Fade”:
“It was pure joy to spend the afternoon fanning out on Queens of the Stone Age.”

Bon Iver — “Blood Bank”:
“When I listen to Justin Vernon, I feel like a better person. I feel pure and authentic and sure of my convictions. I’ve been captivated by ‘Blood Bank’ since I first heard it. I’m so in the landscape of the song, it’s as if I’m in a movie when I’m singing it. ‘Blood Bank’ would be a really good movie — definitely shot on 16mm film. We recorded it in Düsseldorf.”

Thanks For Everything Artwork:

third eye blind thanks for everything covers album artwork art cover

Thanks For Everything Tracklist:
01. 10 (Happy Driving)
02. Fuck Forever (Babyshambles)
03. This Isn’t Our Parade (Santigold)
04. Song of the Siren (Tim Buckley)
05. Joke (Chastity Belt)
06. In the Fade (Queens of the Stone Age)
07. Blood Bank (Bon Iver)

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Oh Sees share new track, “C”: Stream

Those Oh Sees (or Thee Oh Sees, or OCS, or The Ohsees… you get the idea) are a prolific bunch.  Last year, John Dwyer’s psych-rock outfit released two records:Orc and Memory of a Cut Off Head. The year before, two records: A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances. This year? None so far, but that’s set to change on August 17th, when Smoke Reverser is released via Castle Rock Records. Today, they’ve released a second track from that release, the galloping, gulping “C”.

Dwyer told Mojo that Smoke Reverser is “far more progressive-sounding” than previous releases, and “C” certainly reflects that. The tracks follows the previous album teaser “Overthrown”. Stream “C” below, then maybe catch them on tour.

Oh Sees are set to kick off their summer tour with a June 30th appearance at Down the Rabbit Hole Fest in the Netherlands. They’ll follow it up with full European and North American legs.

Smote Reverser Artwork:

Thee Oh-Sees Album Artwork Reverser

Smote Reverser Tracklist:
01. Sentient Oona
02. Enrique El Cobrador
03. C
04. Overthrown
05. Last Peace
06. Moon Bog
07. Anthemic Aggressor
08. Abysmal Urn
09. Nail House Needle Boys
10. Flies Bump Against The Glass
11. Beat Quest

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Joe Jackson, father of Michael and Janet, hospitalized with terminal cancer

Joe Jackson, the patriarch of the Jackson family that includes Michael, Janet, and the members of The Jackson 5, has been hospitalized. Variety reports that the Jackson “is in the final stages of terminal cancer.”

Jackson, 89, has been afflicted with a number of health issues in recent years, including suffering a stroke that left him with temporarily blurred vision, multiple heart attacks, and dementia. Last year, he was in a car accident in Las Vegas, where he’s lived for the past several years.

Infamous for the physical and mental abuse he used to drive his performing children, Jackson was the architect of The Jackson 5. The original group featured Michael, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon, with the occasional inclusion of Randy. His other children LaToya, Rebbie, and most notably Janet also launched singing careers under his initial guidance.

Because of his treatment of his 11 children, the relationship between him and his offspring has often been contentious. As Jermaine told The Daily Mail, certain family members were barred from visiting Joe when he was initially hospitalized. “No one knew what was going on — we shouldn’t have to beg, plead, and argue to see our own father, especially at a time like this,” Jermaine told the paper said. “We have been hurting. We were not being told where he was and couldn’t get the full picture. Even from the doctor. My mother was worried sick.”

He continued, noting that it appears his father is on his death bed. “He’s very, very frail, he doesn’t have long. The family needs to be by his bedside — that’s our only intention in his final days.”

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Westside Gunn shares new album, Supreme Blientele: Stream

Westside Gunn has shared his sophomore solo album, and it comes with three different names and covers: Supreme Blientele, aka Chris Benoit, aka God is the Greatest. Whatever you call it (we’ll stick with Supreme Blientele), you can stream the entire thing below.

The follow-up to the Buffalo, New York MC’s 2016 FLYGODSupreme Blientele (a clear play on Ghostface Killah’s second solo record, Supreme Clientele) is as guest-heavy an album as they come. In addition to Westside’s Artist of the Month brother, Conway, the LP features Anderson .Paak, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Benny the Butcher, Crime Apple, Roc Marciano, Keisha Plum, and ELZHI. Marciano also provided production, as did 9th Wonder, Pete Rock, Alchemist, Statik Selektah, SADHU Gold & Hesh, and Harry Fraud. Even Westside’s own daughter makes an appearance, telling other rappers to stop copying her dad on the track “Amherst Station”.

As the Chris Benoit title suggests, much of the album ties into a wrestling theme. (Benoit was a pro wresetler who murdered his wife and son before committing suicide in June 2007.) The intro track, “Big Homie Arn”, is a recording of former wrestler and agent Arn Anderson discussing discovering Benoit. “Brossface Brippler”, which features Busta and Benny, is a reference to Benoit’s trademark move, the Crossface Crippler. Track titles “Dean Malenko”, “RVD”, “Brutus”, “MEAN Gene”, “Sabu”, “The Steiners”, and “Ric Martel” are all references to ring icons, while the .Paak-featuring “Wrestlemania 20” is a clear WWE nod.

Listen to the entire effort below.

Supreme Blientele Artwork:

Shot by @ellmatik back ArT @ral_duke & @bnardartwork. “The Rare FENDI stockings were hard to obtain but I had a vision. I felt this album took me back to roots when I wore the Ski Mask. I use to just let the music speak for itself. This picture is modern day ART to me, just RAW and FLY. This project is the beginning of the next chapter.”

Supreme Blientele Westside Gunn album artwork cover

Chris Benoit Artwork:

This was the original, hand painted piece done for the album and is by Isaac Pelayo. “CHRIS BENOIT with the 3rd eye just means I’m seeing EVERYTHING in this game and I’m killing EVERYTHING, no disrespect by any means to the BENOIT family it’s nothing but respect ART comes and can be interpreted in diff ways.”

Chris Benoit third eye Westside Gunn album art artwork cover

God is the Greatest Artwork:

Created by AWGE a collective made up of @hidjifilms @ygaflm @rickydula @fuckatnames @dntwatchtv. Everything was hand painted and drawn and the original piece is about 6ft. “I love there work and there causing a wave on the streets of NYC, having love for street ART I wanted to have an original piece of BENOIT that represents the culture.”

god is the greatest westside gunn album art artwork cover

Supreme Blientele, aka Chris Benoit, aka God is the Greatest Tracklist:
01. Big Homie Arn
02. GOD$ Don’t Bleed (feat. Jadakiss & Benny the Butcher, produced by Daringer)
03. Dean Malenko (produced by Daringer)
04. Brutus (feat. Benny the Butcher & Conway, produced by Pete Rock
05. Amherst Station (produced by Daringer)
06. RVD (feat. Keisha Plum, produced by Daringer)
07. Elizabeth (produced by Alchemist)
08. Mean Gene (produced by Alchemist)
09. StefflonDon (produced by SADHU Gold & Hesh)
10. Sabu (produced by SADHU Gold)
11. Brossface Brippler (feat. Benny & Busta Rhymes, produced by Alchemist)
12. Spanish Jesus (feat. Crime Apple, produced by Harry Fraud)
13. The Steiners (feat. ELZHI, produced by Pete Rock)
14. Ric Martel (feat. Roc Marciano, produced by Roc Marciano)
15. WESTSIDE (produced by Statik Selektah)
16. Wrestlemania 20 (feat. Anderson .Paak, produced by 9th Wonder)
17. AA Outro (produced by Harry Fraud)

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David Lynch teases more Twin Peaks at book signing

Before this gets out of hand, know that the future of Twin Peaks will always be wrapped in uncertainty. The ever unorthodox David Lynch works in ever unorthodox ways, always insisting that he “doesn’t want to talk about” the specifics of his works. He’s done it for years and he’s been doing it ever since The Return wrapped on Showtime in September 2017. Occasionally, though, you get little nuggets — or rather, tiny fishes, to use his terminology — that tickle the funny bone and make you wonder.

One such fish came swimming last night at Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel, where Lynch and co-writer Kristine McKenna discussed their incredible new memoir, Room to Dream. According to one attendee, a fan asked him whether he would ever be interested in continuing the story of Carrie Page, to which he curiously replied, “It is calling, but there are a lot of disturbances.”

Without spoiling too much, Page is an integral character in the Twin Peaks universe, who factors heavily into the show’s present conclusion, particularly with regards to the whereabouts of Special Agent Dale Cooper. The fact that Lynch indulged the question is intriguing, to say the least, and should only continue to fuel fans’ speculation of a fourth season. After all, he didn’t exactly dismiss the possibility last year, insisting, instead, that it would take some time and patience.

Here’s hoping he answers the call and starts dreaming those dreams of his again. In the meantime, pick up his new book, grab tickets to this October’s Festival of Disruption, put on Johnny Jewel’s new album, and keep those fingers crossed that the Emmys shower the series with nominations. If they manage to fuck it up like the Golden Globes did earlier this year, this writer will send the Woodsmen after each and every voter.

Until then, the world spins…

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SOB x RBE’s Yhung T.O. shares new solo single, “Down Chick”: Stream

Rising rap quartet SOB x RBE are already enjoying a solid 2018, what with the release of their excellent sophomore album, Gangin’, and a headlining summer tour. Now, the group’s Yhung T.O. is striking out with his own tunes, the latest being the vibrant, surprisingly tender “Down Chick”.

“Down Chick”, which will appear on the rapper’s forthcoming Misunderstood mixtape, the bass-heavy burner finds Yhung T.O. rhyming about finding a relationship that can offer an escape from life’s less-savory moments. In our review of SOB x RBE’s latest, we characterized Yhung T.O. as “the group’s de facto part-time crooner” due to his smooth flow, and this aspect of his style is most certainly highlighted here. Hear it below.

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Peter Cottontale taps Chance the Rapper, Daniel Caesar for “Forever Always”: Stream

The Social Experiment keyboardist/producer Peter Cottontale turned 27 a few days back — June 20th, to be precise. To celebrate, he’s gifted fans with a new guest heavy single called “Forever Always”.

Frequent collaborator/associate Chance the Rapper contributes to the track, as do Rex Orange County, Daniel Caesar, Madison Ryann Ward, and YEBBA. “Forever Always” itself is a silky jam that slowly unfurls the multiple meanings of love over Cottontale’s alternating twinkling and smoky keys. “You’re my sing-a-long/ You’re the only song on my iPod/” he sings along with Rex. “You’re the only CD I keep in the whip (the whip)/ You’re my number one song on every playlist.”

Take a listen to the track below via Spotify and Apple Music.

https://embed.music.apple.com/us/album/forever-always-feat-rex-orange-county-chance-rapper/1397873832?i=1397873854&app=music
https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify:track:4B2kIC5F0kSVfTD5crzgm9

Cottontale recently provided some production work for Savemoney crew member Towkio on his WWW. debut. Chance, meanwhile, just got his honorary doctorate and gave the commencement speech at New Orleans’ Dillard University. He also teamed with Caesar back in the fall to debut a new song on Colbert. A rising neo-soul star, Rex Orange County recently reworked the Toy Story “You’ve Got A Friend in Me” classic with Randy Newman himself.

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Coheed and Cambria announce new album, The Unheavenly Creatures

After sharing the epic lead single “The Dark Sentencer” last month, spacey, prog-punk stalwarts Coheed and Cambria have announced details of their new LP. It’s called The Unheavenly Creatures, and the predictably ambitious project is due out October 5th via Roadrunner Records, making it their first release with the venerable label.

Spanning 15 tracks, the self-produced album clocks in at 78 minutes and finds frontman Claudio Sanchez returning to the conceptual science-fiction narrative of The Amory Wars, a story Sanchez has sought to tell through his music, a novel, and a comic book series. The band’s last album, 2015’s The Color Before The Sun, was the first to deviate from the narrative.

The album will be available in a variety of configurations, including Vaxis – Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures Limited Edition Deluxe Box Set, which is isn’t kidding about the “deluxe” part. Included in the set is an exclusive 80-page hardcover novel with illustrations by Chase Stone, as well as the complete Act 1 novella written by Sanchez and his wife, Chondra Echert. In addition to the album, there’s a bonus disc, The Crown Heights Demos, which highlights the songs in their earliest forms, plus the Unheavenly Creatures Black Card, which grants early access and entry to shows on the band’s upcoming tour. That’s out the same day as the album, and you can catch a glimpse of it in all its glory below.

The Unheavenly Creatures - Deluxe Box Set

Speaking of touring, Coheed and Cambria are linking up with Taking Back Sunday this summer for a U.S. co-headlining tour that will span 28 dates. The Story So Far will support on the tour, which kicks off in Miami on July 6th and wraps up in mid-August in Phoenix. Grab tickets here.

The Unheavenly Creatures Artwork:

The Unheavenly Creatures - Cover Art

The Unheavenly Creatures Tracklist:
01. Prologue
02. The Dark Sentencer
03. Unheavenly Creatures
04. Toys
05. Black Sunday
06. Queen Of The dark
07. True Ugly
08. Love Protocol
09. The Pavilion (A Long Way Back)
10. Night-Time Walkers
11. The Gutter
12. All On Fire
13. It Walks Among US
14. Old Flames
15. Lucky Stars

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