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New Escapist Video! On the Appealing Meaninglessness of “Godzilla vs. Kong”…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, following the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film’s appealing meaninglessness, particularly in an era that seems so over-signified with meaning.

New Escapist Column! On the Unknowable Monstrosity at the Heart of “Shin Godzilla”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at Japan’s iconic reptilian monster. In particular, the way in which Godzilla evolved from an embodiment of monstrous uncertainty to protector of the planet. In this context, Shin Godzilla is a fascinating piece of work. Building on co-director Hideaki Anno’s work on earlier projects like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Neon Genesis Evangelion, the monster at the centre of Shin Godzilla is hauntingly unknowable, a grotesque intrusion of something almost beyond human comprehension into the material world. The film is all the more effective for that. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

229. Mad Max: Fury Road (#206)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Grace Duffy and Deirdre Molumby, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

Through the ruin of the world stalks the ruin of the man. In a world that has descended into anarchy and chaos, a lone nomad finds himself embroiled in a brutal chase sequence across the wasteland. However, the characters quickly discover that the past is the one thing that they can’t outrun.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 206th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Falcon and the Winter Soldier – “The Whole World is Watching” Discussion…

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. I’ll be joining the wonderful Jack Packard and the fantastic KC Nwosu to break down WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki as they come out.

This week, we take a look at the fourth episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which I continue to really like, even with some caveats about possible “both-sides-ism.” It’s continues to be an interesting and clever reworking of certain flawed elements of both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.

New Escapist Column! On the Legacy of “Game of Thrones”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the tenth (or “iron”) anniversary of Game of Thrones coming up, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the show’s enduring legacy – in particular, the disconnect between the internet’s narrative of that legacy and the reality of it. To listen to the internet, Game of Thrones ended in such a way as to erase its cultural footprint and any residual cultural goodwill towards it. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk, at length, about how nobody talks about Game of Thrones anymore. However, there’s a fascinating dissonance here, because Game of Thrones appears to be thriving by any quantifiable measure. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Non-Review Review: Thunder Force

There is a recurring joke in Thunder Force about how one character cannot tell a joke. It feels like a metaphor for the film itself.

To be fair, it’s more than just the premise of that joke itself, it is also the execution. The opening section of Thunder Force offers something of an origin story for its two lead characters, Lydia and Emily. The two meet at school. At school, their only other friend is a geeky kid named Clyde. In these flashbacks, Clyde is introduced with an obvious crush on Lydia, and an inability to tell a joke properly. When the film rejoins Lydia in adulthood, Clyde is quickly reintroduced and still unable to tell a joke properly.

A thundering disappointment.

The basic law of comedy – or storytelling – would suggest that this is a plot point being set up so that it might pay off. It is the standard “rule of three.” A concept is introduced to the audience. It is then repeated to establish it. Then, finally, it is subverted. It is that third iteration of the concept that serves as a punchline. It’s the heart of the joke. Instead, Clyde just disappears from the film. His inability to tell a joke is ultimately just an inability to tell a joke. It eats up screentime in building this world, and doesn’t go anywhere.

There’s something almost fourth-wall-breaking in this. It’s a joke about how a character in this movie cannot tell a joke, told in such a way that it isn’t really a joke either. It’s a moment that captures so much of Thunder Force, albeit in an unflattering light. It is also, much like the rest of Thunder Force, painfully unfunny.

The script could use a punch-up.

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New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “A Monster of a Godzilla vs. Kong Podcast”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard for the eleventh episode of the year, with a special guest Liz Finnegan, for a titanic discussion of Godzilla vs. Kong.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Guardians of the Galaxy” as the MCU’s Best Exploration of Loss…

I published a new column at The Escapist yesterday. With all the talk about how so much of the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe is about “loss”, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not a machine that is designed to deal with concepts like loss head on. After all, most of its major departures were down to contract negotiations rather than narrative priorities. Characters are often resurrected, and losses are often temporary. This is what makes Guardians of the Galaxy so compelling. Director James Gunn understands that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a space into which the audience and characters escape to avoid dealing with loss, even if it haunts them still.

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

New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 3, Episode 21 (“Via Dolorosa”)

Last year, I was thrilled to spend a lot of time on The Time is Now discussing the second season of Millennium. Since the podcast has moved on to the third season, I have taken something of a step back as a guest. That said, I have been a bit more active in the second half of the third season. I was flattered to get an invitation to discuss the show’s penultimate episode, Via Dolorosa, with host Kurt North and guest Chris Knowles.

The series finale of Millennium is an episode that I’m admittedly divided on. It’s a two-parter that attempts to a staggering amount: to tell one last serial killer of the week story, to pull back and look at the bigger picture around these monsters, to wrap up the major character arcs for both the season and the show, and to serve as a satisfying conclusion to an uneven season and to a wildly disjointed series as a whole. It’s a lot to ask of a two parter, and Millennium certainly makes a valiant – if imperfect – effort.

As ever, you can listen directly to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

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New Escapist Column! On the Meaninglessness of “Godzilla vs. Kong”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release and success of Godzilla vs. Kong on HBO Max and in cinemas last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film’s aggressive rejection of meaning. Godzilla vs. Kong is not a movie particularly concerned with subtext or metaphor. It is not a parable for mankind’s confrontation of the unknown, the hunger for war that lurks in every human heart, or even the dangers of how mankind is treating the environment. Instead, it’s a movie about a giant monkey punching a giant lizard until one of them falls down. However, maybe there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, particularly following a year that has – for many people – been over-infused with meaning. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.