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239. BloodRayne (-#32)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest 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, Uwe Boll’s BloodRayne.

An ancient evil stalks the landscape. The evil vampire lord Kagan casts a long shadow. The only hope of humanity lies with his daughter Rayne, who aims to avenge her mother and slay her father. However, she also has to reckon with the secret Brimstone Society, a human organisation that might have its own agenda.

At time of recording, it was ranked 32nd on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On How “Mythic Quest” Understands the Creation as a Collaborative Process…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Mythic Quest wrapping up its second season next week, it seemed like a good time to take a look at what is quietly one of the best shows on television.

Mythic Quest is a workplace sitcom about a video game studio. It is also one of the most insightful studies of the creative process ever made. A large part of this is down to the fact that Mythic Quest understands that creation is an inherently collaborative process, that it does not happen in a vacuum and that it involves lots of people working together towards the same ends. It’s a very mature reflection on how creativity works.

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

Non-Review Review: In the Heights

When it premiered, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights was a radical piece of work.

Miranda had begun working on the musical when he was in his sophomore year of college, producing an eighty-minute version of the play in 1999. He would take a prototype of the completed musical to Waterford, Connecticut in 2005. The show would move Off-Broadway two years later, and would open on Broadway in February 2008. It was a move that very much announced the arrival of Miranda as a serious talent, and would serve as a springboard to his later success with Hamilton.

“There’ll be dancing…
Dancing in the Street…”

In the Heights is set against the backdrop of Washington Heights, a neighbourhood on the north west side of Manhattan. Inspired by Miranda’s own experience as a Puerto Rican immigrant, the musical follows the inhabitants of the neighbourhood as they navigate a changing world. The story is told through the eyes of Usnavi, the young owner of a small bodega who dreams of returning to his home in the Dominican Republic, but who needs to find a way to express his feelings for Vanessa, who is considering a move of her own to the West Village.

Miranda wrote In the Heights as a very pointed response to traditional staged musicals like West Side Story. It’s no small irony that, more than twenty years after it premiered, the film adaptation feels as much like a traditional musical as any of the classics that Miranda had railed against.

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Non-Review Review: Luca

There’s an appealing low-stakes gentleness to Luca. In fact, Luca might be Pixar’s first hangout movie.

The film tells the story the eponymous sea monster. The young boy lives off the Italian Riviera, tending to the local fish and dreaming of the world above the surface. One day, following a chance encounter with a more adventurous boy named Alberto, Luca discovers that he can change form when dry. Outside the ocean, Luca and Alberto can pass as human children. Against his family’s better judgment and aware of what might happen if he is discovered, Luca decides to make the most of life above the waves.

“I wanna be where the people are…”

This description makes Luca sound like a retread of The Little Mermaid. That’s not an entirely unfair point of comparison. Both Luca and The Little Mermaid are stories about young characters who dare to dream of a life beyond the underwater world they know. However, Luca has a very distinct mood and ambiance. Luca is not really plot-driven. It lacks a central villain like Ursula or stakes as overt as the terms of Ursula’s spell. Instead, Luca is much more interested in the smaller details that mark a wonderful childhood summer.

Luca is undeniably minor Pixar, but that doesn’t mean it’s especially shallow.

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New Escapist Video! “Luca – Review”

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 Luca, which is released on Disney+ this weekend.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Loki – “The Variant”…

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the second episode of Loki, streaming on Disney+.

 

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “Is ‘In the Heights’ a Summer Highlight? “

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Stacy Grouden for the nineteenth episode of the year, to discuss Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights. We discuss everything from the musical maximalism to the Broadway casting to the box office autopsies taking place. It’s a fun and broad discussion.

You can listen to back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On “WandaVision” and “Loki”, and the Challenges to the MCU Canon…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist earlier this week. With Loki delving into the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s interesting to wonder why the modern stage of the MCU seems so preoccupied with its own history and continuity.

Black Widow will be a prequel. The Eternals will chart the secret history of a corner of the larger universe. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will potentially retcon Iron Man 3. On top of that, Spider-Man: Far From Home teased the possibility of a multiverse, while WandaVision warped reality. As such, it seems like the franchise is building towards something – but what could that be and what does it mean for the shared universe’s canon?

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

New Escapist Column! On “Loki” as a Fugitive From Continuity…

I published a new column at The Escapist yesterday. Following the premiere of Loki, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look at some of the meta-fictional aspects of the beloved trickster.

At its core, Loki is essentially the story of a character trying to escape their own narrative and wrest control of the story in which they’ve found themselves trapped. The title character of Loki has always been a supporting player, an antagonist or an ensemble player. Loki finds the character pushing his way to the fore, trying to figure out his own arc and his own place when he is no longer defined by the role that he has played for the past decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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

New Escapist Video! “In the Heights – Review in 3 Minutes”

I’m thrilled to be launching 3-Minute 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 In the Heights, which released in cinemas and on HBO Max this weekend.