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285. Trainspotting (#173)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Emma Kiely, 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, Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting.

Using heroin to numb the pain of simply existing, Mark Renton drifts through a series of episodic adventures in nineties Edinburgh. Renton and his friends find themselves caught up in a web of sex, violence, drug abuse and existential malaise, grappling with challenges both large and small as they struggle to make it out the other side of their experiences.

At time of recording, it was ranked 173rd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On the Urge to Stop Imitating John Carptenter and Just Hire John Carpenter…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Firestarter in theatres and on Peacock, and the way that the movie draws overtly from Carpenter, it seemed like a good opportunity to ask the question: why aren’t studios simply paying John Carpenter to make movies?

After all, Carpenter is a director who is responsible for some of the most influential and beloved horror movies ever made, including The Thing and Halloween. Modern horror owes a massive debt to Carpenter, a debt that it repays by paying him as an original creator, as an executive producer, or even as a composer. However, with Carpenter openly stating that he would love to return to directing under the right conditions, it’s worth asking why studios haven’t done more to assure those conditions.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Strange New Worlds” Takes Small Steps Towards Improvement…

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 third episode released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Like both Strange New Worlds and Children of the Comet, Ghosts of Illyria is drawing on a familiar stock Star Trek plot. This is the traditional early-season viral infection plot, recalling The Naked Time, The Naked Now, Babel or Dramatis Personae. It’s a tried and tested formula. That said, there’s a good reason for a young show to try an episode like this, primarily as it invites the cast to push themselves outside of their character templates, so the production team can recognise and develop interesting new facets of these characters. It’s not the worst idea for a first season episode.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” as a Critique of the Marvel Power Fantasy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the film says about the larger thematic preoccupations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is built around the superhero power fantasy, with much of the franchise focusing on the idea that its central characters should be allowed to do whatever they want, to bend the world to their tremendous wills. Multiverse of Madness is an interesting and deliberate deconstruction of this power fantasy, focusing on a superhero who has internalised that idea to a dangerous degree, while teaching another character that perhaps the ends don’t always justify the means.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Strange New Worlds” Feels Like a Photocopy of a Photocopy of a Photocopy…

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 second episode released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

The problem with Strange New Worlds, and it is a problem that runs through each of the five episodes released to the press, is that it is essentially writing Star Trek as if nothing had changed since 1989. This is the approach that ultimately ran the franchise into the ground, as Star Trek: Voyager and the first two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise exhausted a formula that had been run through every possible permutation after more than a decade in use. Strange New Worlds returns to that format, but it is a faded copy of a faded copy, a pale imitation of episodes that were just about functional two decades earlier.

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

New Escapist Column! On Ncuti Gatwa’s Casting in “Doctor Who”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist yesterday. This weekend saw the surprise announcement of Ncuti Gatwa’s casting as the new lead of Doctor Who, so it seemed like a good opportunity to make sense of it.

Gatwa is an interesting choice, and marks something of a departure from the recent casting of older and more established actors with more conventional prestige, like Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker. Capaldi and Whittaker were both choices that spoke very much to an older audience with more mature and perhaps conventional taste. In contrast, Gatwa’s casting suggests that new showrunner Russell T. Davies is pushing the show towards a younger audience, that rather than trying to appease or flatter older fans, Davies might be trying to attract new ones.

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

New Escapist Video! On How “Star Trek” Gave Up on the Future…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will be completely separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

With the end of the second season of Star Trek: Picard and the launch of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the larger Star Trek franchise, which has become increasingly backwards-looking in recent decades. While a lot of fans will place the blame on the franchise’s more recent output, the truth is that this nostalgic impulse took root much earlier than many fas will acknowledge.

New Escapist Column! On the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and Marvel’s Strength at Improv…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the film says about Marvel Studios’ production model.

After more than a decade of success, Marvel Studios have built up a deserved reputation as a company that makes efficient and clean blockbusters. However, this reputation is often built upon the myth of the company’s ability to make and commit to long-term plans, to map out the shared universe months and years in advance. In reality, the opposite is true. Marvel Studios succeeds in large part because it has built a robust production machine that has the flexibility to adapt and evolve on the fly and in real-time, to account for any number of unforeseen potential possibilities.

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

284. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Luke Dunne, 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, Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The master of the mystic arts, Doctor Stephen Strange, is attending the wedding of his ex-girlfriend Christine Palmer when New York is attacked by a strange creature chasing a young refugee named America Chavez. Strange finds himself drawn into a chase across the vast and infinite multiverse, questioning the nature of the reality in which he has found himself.

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 the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” as a Parable About the Dangers of Rejecting Reality…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the film.

Despite its title, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness seems refreshingly wary of the multiverse as a concept, understanding that the collapse of reality is not necessarily a good thing. Indeed, despite the title, the film is largely about the importance of embracing and accepting one’s original reality, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of retreating into fantasy. In particular, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a horror story about the lengths that people will go to preserve their fantasies – and the consequences of those actions.

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