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321. The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (-#92)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest David Monaghan, 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, Brian Levant’s The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.

Years before they become the family that audiences know and love, Fred and Wilma are living very different lives. Fred is a quarry working, looking for connection. Wilma is the daughter of a wealthy family, looking to experience something real. Fate (and a meddling alien named Gazoo) conspires to throw the two into one another’s lives. However, Fred soon discovers that he has a potential romantic rival in the spiteful Chip Rockefeller, who invites the couple on a trip that they’ll never forget to Rock Vegas.

At time of recording, it was ranked 92nd on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Irish Independent Column! On Whether “The Last of Us” Can Beat the Video Game Curse…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent last week. With the release of The Last of Us, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the history of video game adaptations.

There’s a lot riding on The Last of Us, and HBO have really gone all-out on the show. It stars Pedro Pascal of The Mandalorian and is written by Craig Mazin of Chernobyl. It’s an interesting approach, in large part because video games have frequently posed a challenge to studios longing to adapt them to other screens. Just based on Hollywood’s experience with the medium, The Last of Us poses a significant challenge to any production team hoping to translate it to another medium.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Menu” as a Study of Ethical Production Under Capitalism…

We’re launching a new column at The Escapist, called Out of Focus. It will publish every second Wednesday, and the plan is to use it to look at some film and television that would maybe fall outside the remit of In the Frame, more marginal titles or objects of cult interest. We kicked off the column with a look at The Menu, Mark Mylod’s black comedy.

The Menu has been framed of something an “eat the rich” satire, a companion piece to films like Glass Onion or Triangle of Sadness. However, that perhaps misses the intricacies of what The Menu is doing. The movie is not so much an example of the trend as it is a movie about the trend. In particular, it plays as a commentary on the extremely privileged individuals who make large sums of money producing art about how awful the superrich truly are, and whether that art can ever be truly insightful or engaging. It’s an exploration of how these stories work, where they come from, and the artists who make them.

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

New Escapist Column! On How the Fungus at the Heart of “The Last of Us” is a Monstrous Metaphor…

I am doing weekly reviews of The Last of Us at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Sunday evening while the show is on, looking at the video game adaptation as the show progresses. To start with, though, a look at the season premiere.

The Last of Us is effectively a survival horror show. It’s very clearly riffing on archetypal zombie apocalypse narratives. The show’s opening scene evokes I Am Legend. Its depiction of the collapse of civilisation recalls everything from Night of the Living Dead to Shaun of the Dead. However, what makes this particular show interesting is the way that its central apocalyptic force, a infectuous fungus, ties into the show’s core themes of co-dependence and mutual support. The fungus at the heart of the show is a monstrous parasite, but The Last of Us argues that the only way human beings can survive is together.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Last of Us” and Television as the Perfect Medium for Video Games…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Last of Us, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the show. In particular, what it says about the challenges of adapting a video game to another medium.

Hollywood has spent decades trying to figure out how to translate video games into movies, resulting a somewhat embarrassing list of adaptations: Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, Wing Commander, and so on. Adapting video games to another medium often means erasing the immersive quality that defines the medium. While it’s impossible to replicate the interactivity of a player steering the protagonist, there is a sense that film is not a medium that can faithfully emulate that level of worldbuilding and progression. The Last of Us suggests that television is much more perfectly suited to that task.

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

New Escapist Column! On M3GAN’s Monstrous Motherhood…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the recent release of M3GAN in theatres, it seemed like a good opportunity to delve into the breakout horror success.

Like most stories about artificial intelligence, M3GAN is ultimately a story about parenthood. In particular, it’s a very modern story about parental anxieties, concerning how modern technology has in some ways usurped or replaced the role that parents place in shaping the lives of their children. Central to M3GAN is the idea that the eponymous doll serves as a parental surrogate for its companion, and in doing so makes life easier for parents. However, M3GAN itself is a child without a parent, left to educate and raise itself, with potentially horrifying results. What is M3GAN but a child of the internet?

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Willow” Was a Perfectly Average Streaming Series…

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

With its season finale, Willow revealed that it was basically the statistical mean of Disney’s streaming shows built around existing intellectual property, even more than their Marvel of Star Wars shows. At various points in the season, Willow felt more like a checklist of familiar narrative beats than it did a cohesive story, and that was particularly true of the season finale, with its non-deaths ands its beams of multi-colour energy.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “Back to Basics” Message in the Marketting of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. This week saw the release of the final trailer for the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. What was most interesting about the trailer was the extent to which it contained no surprises or teases. It was a very matter-of-fact “this is what the movie is” trailer.

It’s an interesting approach, particularly for a studio that takes pride in keeping secrets and teasing the audience. The trailer for Quantumania looks very much like a blueprint for the movie, mapping a lot of its character and narrative arcs very clearly, including a third act twist. It’s an approach that feels a little desperate, very much in keeping with the general sense of how Marvel Studios has been packaging and selling Phase Five. The past two years have seen some small erosion in the studio’s cachet, and the trailer for Quantumania feels like the studio trying to convince audiences that it still adheres to the old template.

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

New Escapist Column! On How the Bad Batch Adds Nuance to the “Star Wars” Hero Mythology…

I published a new piece at The Escapist last week. With the release of the second season of The Bad Batch, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about one of the more interesting facets of the series.

The Star Wars franchise has become synonymous with the idea of bloodlines, particularly the Skywalkers and the Palpatines. This can lead to a sense that the heroes of this massive saga have to be “insiders”, that they have to belong to a particular grouping, the membership of which is determined at birth. Part of what is interesting about The Bad Batch is that the show is an explicit rejection of that. It focuses on a group of people who are genetically identical to the armies of the First Galactic Empire, but who still find the strength of character to stand against it. Heroism is a choice, not a pre-determined genetic destiny.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Last of Us” as a Character-Driven Apocalyptic Narrative…

I am doing weekly reviews of The Last of Us at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Sunday evening while the show is on, looking at the video game adaptation as the show progresses. To start with, though, a look at the series as a whole.

Although it takes a little while to get going, with its first two episodes largely given over to exposition and worldbuilding, The Last of Us is an incredible accomplishment from HBO. The show is clearly the result of a great deal of care and attention, and a substantial investment from the service. It’s a show that benefits from the best possible talent and from the freedom afforded to that talent, to find a distinct angle on the end of the world. It’s a charming, emotional and deeply moving character study at the end of the world.

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