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New Escapist Column! On What Disney Should Learn from Andor

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. With Andor winding down its first season, it seemed like as good an opportunity to take a look at what Disney could and should learn from the best of their franchise streaming show.

While there is some suggestion that Andor might be less popular on initial release than other Star Wars streaming shows like The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett, there is some sense that Disney recognises that they have created something very special and unique. So what is it that makes Andor so compelling? More than that, what can Disney do to capitalise on that success and replicate it?

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

New Irish Independent Column! On “Willow” and Disney’s Fantasy Pitch…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Willow on Disney+ this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the show means for the Disney brand, and why it is so important to the company going forward.

The past couple of decades have seen an explosion in fantasy film and television: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. However, studios have quickly discovered that audiences aren’t necessarily enthusiastically engaged with fantasy, struggling to connect with the genres. Studios like Disney have invested millions trying to tap into that audience, with numerous high-profile failures. Willow represents the latest attempt by Disney to craft a live action fantasy universe with a built-in fanbase, and the company is using the same playbook that it did with Star Wars.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Strange Worlds” as a Love Letter to Disney’s Forgotten “Boys’ Own” Adventures…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With the release of Strange World, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the latest animated film from Disney.

Many of the more recent high-profile Disney animated films have been anchored in the brand’s “princess” iconography, feeling like extensions of classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Part of what is interesting about Strange World is that it is a movie rooted in another, rather under-explored, chapter in the history of Disney’s animated filmmaking. Strange World is best understood as an extension of the wave of oft-forgotten “Adventureland” movies of the turn of the millennium, those movies aimed more overtly at boys, like Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet.

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

New Escapist Video! On Kevin Conroy as the Definitive Batman…

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 typically be 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.

This week, with the recent passing of Kevin Conroy, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at his work with the character of Batman, from Batman: The Animated Series through Justice League and beyond. What was it that made Conroy such a definitive and iconic take on the character? Why has he endured? What is that makes him unique?

New Escapist Column! On the Radical Empathy of “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. With the release of Glass Onion in theatres, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about Benoit Blanc, the film’s protagonist.

Glass Onion is built around the idea of murder mysteries and puzzleboxes. However, like Knives Out before it, the film is something of a criticism of a rigidly rationalist approach to detective fiction, of the idea that solving a crime is a strictly mechanical process. Instead, both Knives Out and Glass Onions are movies about the importance of empathy and humanism in understanding the true moral nature of crime. This is most obvious in Benoit Blanc, who is introduced as an outside observer of these crimes, but cannot escape their gravity.

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

314. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – Bird Watching 2022 (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Deirdre Molumby and Graham Day, 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.

This week, we’re continuing a season focusing on the work of one particular director: Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

When a mad man embarks on a plan that will lead to nuclear annihilation, secret agent Ethan Hunt is the world’s last and only hope. The only problem is that Hunt may not be the man that he once was. Assembling a crack team of operatives in a desperate race against time, Hunt undertakes a globe trotting adventure with the highest stakes imaginable.

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 Video! “Andor is the Best Star Wars in a Long Time”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie and television 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 five-minute review of the first season of Andor, which can now be streamed on Disney+.

New Podcast! Enterprising Individuals – “Star Trek Into Darkness, Part 1”

I am always thrilled to get a chance to talk about Star Trek with other fans, so I was thrilled at the invitation to join the wonderful Aaron Coker on Enterprising Individuals to talk about Star Trek Into Darkness.

It seems safe to describe Star Trek Into Darkness as perhaps the most polarising and divisive of the Star Trek movies. However, it’s also the most interesting. It represents the culmination of efforts to turn Star Trek into a populist and accessible blockbuster franchise, but it also remains true to the spirit of the franchise. Star Trek Into Darkness is undeniably a blockbuster of the late Obama era, one preoccupied with the legacy of the War on Terror and fascinated by the loss of utopian innocence that seemed promised with the election of Obama. It’s also just a thrilling action spectacle with a broad appeal.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Andor” as the Most Consistent “Star Wars”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Andor at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the Rogue One prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Rix Road brings the first season of Andor to an end, closing the cricle by bringing the primary cast back to where it all began. It’s a fascinating and compelling way to close out the season, underscoring how much these characters have changed by bringing them back to their starting position. Rix Road is a breathtaking and impressive season finale to what has been the most consistent run of Star Wars ever produced.

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

New Escapist Column! On “1899” and the Problems of Abstraction…

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. Last week saw the release of Netflix’s 1899, a surreal mystery thriller from the creative minds behind Dark.

1899 is an impressive show in many ways, a multilingual series with a diverse cast, that is also the most expensive television show ever made in Germany. It is packed with big ideas, and grapples with heady themes, without ever stopping to apologise for itself or condescend to its audience. There’s undoubtedly something appealing in that. However, there’s a strange coldness to the show, a detachment that makes it very hard to emotionally invest in the series as anything more than an intellectual exercise.

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