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New Escapist Column! On How the Third Season of “The Umbrella Academy” Captures the Pandemic Aesthetic…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of the third season of The Umbrella Academy last week, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look back at the show.

The third season of The Umbrella Academy is not about the pandemic, but it stands as an interesting cultural marker of the moment. The show’s production has obviously been impacted by pandemic restrictions, with a lot of shoot on closed sets with a tight cast, and a recurring sense that the show’s world has become empty and withdrawn. While the third season of The Umbrella Academy is not explicitly about the pandemic, it is the rare genre show that manages to translate the experience of the pandemic into a more general mood or tone.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “The Boys” Is Just Good Old-Fashioned Superhero Fun…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of The Boys, which is streaming weekly on Amazon Prime. The third season’s penultimate episode released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Herogasm is a show that the production team have wanted to make since the show premiered, and it represents an interesting acknowledgement of the show’s success: the series has been successful enough for Amazon to trust the creatives to build an episode around a superhero orgy. That said, it also demonstrates one of the key strengths of The Boys. Underneath the show’s cras and vulgar exterior, it is a show that loves being a superhero show. It is a deconstruction of the genre’s uncritical power fantasies, but a celebration of the genre’s pulpy potential.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

289. The Princess Bride (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Aoife Barry, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride.

As a young kid lies sick in bed, wasting time on video games, his grandfather decides to pay a visit. Taking the opportunity to indulge in a timeworn family tradition, the grandfather decides to share a timeless tale of romance and adventure that has been passed down from one generation to another: S.W. Morganstern’s The Princess Bride.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “Obi-Wan Kenobi” as a Brand Management Checklist…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the broadcast of the final episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi this week, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look back at the show.

Despite a promising start, Obi-Wan Kenobi descended into a mess of content. The final episode was not a story so much as a collection of demands compiled from what the studio assumed that the internet might want. There were gratuitous callbacks to memetic lines. There were largely redundant cameos. There were battles that just ended in stalement because of the understanding of what had to follow. There was the return of characters who last appeared in the premiere, with the assumption that audiences would care about them because they were “important.”

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “The Lost World” as a Nasty and Subversive Spielbergian Sequel…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Jurassic World Dominion, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the best sequel to Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

The Lost World was somewhat maligned on initial release, with much of the criticism hinging on how dark and how cynical the movie was perceive to be. This was seen as something of a betrayal of the audience, with Spielberg sacrificing wonder and majesty for terror and horror. However, this is the most interesting thing about the movie. It is Spielberg playing with horror in a very deliberate and conscious way. If the original Jurassic Park was a movie about the majesty and spectacle of blockbuster filmmaking, The Lost World can feel like a horror movie about turning such a project into a sequel.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Strange New Worlds” Reaches the Limits of Allegory…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The seventh episode released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

The Serene Squall is an episode that demonstrates the limits of the old-fashioned allegorical-driven approach to Star Trek, particularly when it comes to treating aspects like race and gender as metaphor or allegory rather than simply as facets of existence. Recent spin-offs like Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard might have been uneven, but they made huge steps forward for the franchsie by acknowledging queer leads. In its attempt to nostalgically evoke nineties Star Trek, Strange New Worlds effectively pushes all of that back into the closet.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Escapist Video! “Jurassic World: Dominion is Bad… Very Bad”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of Jurassic World Dominion, which is in theatres now.

New Escapist Video! “Lightyear is a Solid Sub-Orbital Adventure”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of Lightyear, which is in theatres on Friday.

New Escapist Column! On How “Jurassic World Dominion” Encapsulates Everything Wrong With Modern Blockbusters…

I published a new piece at The Escapist on Friday evening. With the release of Jurassic World Dominion, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film.

Dominion is a bad film. It is a terrible film. It is barely functional as a film, a collection of post-it notes held together by nostalgia and muscle memory. However, what is perhaps most depressing about Dominion is the fact that it doesn’t feel particularly novel in its badness. Dominion is bad in the way that so many modern franchise films are bad: Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Jurassic World, Joss Whedon’s Justice League, Terminator: Genisys. It’s a collection of nostalgic iconography stapled together, and served up to audiences in dull grey goop.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

288. 365 Dni: Ten Dzień (365 Days: This Day) (-#47)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Grace Duffy and Billie Jean Doheny, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes’ 365 Dni: Ten Dzień.

Having survived the attempt on her life at the end of the previous film, Laura is to be wed to local mafia boss Massimo. However, the couple soon find their relationship tested, particularly with the arrival of a sexy gardener named Nacho. Laura flees Massimo into Nacho’s waiting hands, but quickly discovers that there is a far more sinister game at foot, and that not all of the players have revealed themselves.

At time of recording, it was ranked 47th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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