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New Escapist Column! On “The Lost World” as a Nasty and Subversive Spielbergian Sequel…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Jurassic World Dominion, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the best sequel to Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

The Lost World was somewhat maligned on initial release, with much of the criticism hinging on how dark and how cynical the movie was perceive to be. This was seen as something of a betrayal of the audience, with Spielberg sacrificing wonder and majesty for terror and horror. However, this is the most interesting thing about the movie. It is Spielberg playing with horror in a very deliberate and conscious way. If the original Jurassic Park was a movie about the majesty and spectacle of blockbuster filmmaking, The Lost World can feel like a horror movie about turning such a project into a sequel.

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

New Escapist Video! “Jurassic World: Dominion is Bad… Very Bad”

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 Jurassic World Dominion, which is in theatres now.

New Escapist Video! “Lightyear is a Solid Sub-Orbital Adventure”

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 Lightyear, which is in theatres on Friday.

New Escapist Column! On How “Jurassic World Dominion” Encapsulates Everything Wrong With Modern Blockbusters…

I published a new piece at The Escapist on Friday evening. With the release of Jurassic World Dominion, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film.

Dominion is a bad film. It is a terrible film. It is barely functional as a film, a collection of post-it notes held together by nostalgia and muscle memory. However, what is perhaps most depressing about Dominion is the fact that it doesn’t feel particularly novel in its badness. Dominion is bad in the way that so many modern franchise films are bad: Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Jurassic World, Joss Whedon’s Justice League, Terminator: Genisys. It’s a collection of nostalgic iconography stapled together, and served up to audiences in dull grey goop.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Jurassic Park” as a Movie About Fatherhood…

I published a new piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the looming release of Jurassic World: Dominion, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the original Jurassic Park.

Spielberg’s classic is regarded as one of the defining summer blockbusters, and deservedly so. However, Jurassic Park is also a quintessential Spielberg film, dealing with some of the director’s core themes and preoccupations. Like so many Spielberg movies, Jurassic Park is a movie that is essentially about fatherhood, and about what it means to be a father in a radically changing and evolving world. It’s an interesting exploration of an idea that preoccupies Spielberg as a filmmaker, and which spoke to the cultural anxieties of the era that produced it.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Top Gun” as a Monument to Reagan’s Eighties…

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. With the release of Top Gun: Maverick at the weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the original Top Gun.

It is debatable whether Top Gun is a good movie. However, it is a defining movie. There are few movies that so profoundly and so effectively capture a time and place on film. Top Gun is a movie that is very much in step with the era around it, the story of a nation still recovering from the trauma of Vietnam and embracing a rugged individualist fantasy as a way of working through the lingering after-effects. At its core, Top Gun is a movie about the necessity of letting go of one’s guilt or responsibility towards others in order to be the best that one can be.

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

New Escapist Video! On How “Star Wars” Learned the Wrong Lessons from Solo…

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 arrival of Obi-Wan Kenobi on streaming, it seems like a good time to take a look back over Disney’s ownership and management of the Star Wars brand. In particular, Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was the moment where everything seemed to go wrong for the company’s vision of the larger franchise. It should be possible to learn from past mistakes, and Solo certainly provides an ample amount of education material, but can Disney learn the right lessons?

New Escapist Column! On “Top Gun: Maverick” as a Tom Cruise Movie About Tom Cruise Saving Movies…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Top Gun: Maverick, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the blockbuster sequel. In particular the way that it is a movie that is very consciously and very deliberately built around its star.

Tom Cruise has been described as one of the last movie stars, and that means that the actor exerts a certain gravity on his projects. Most Tom Cruise movies wind up being about Tom Cruise in one way or another. This is particularly true as Cruise has entered the later years of his career, as Hollywood has changed around him and as he has found himself having to constantly fight to assert his own relevance in a rapidly-shifting market place. Most recent Tom Cruise movies are about this, in one way or another, and Maverick is no different.

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

New Escapist Column! On the MCU’s CGI Problems…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of the trailer for She-Hulk last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the raging debate over the very questionable use of computer-generated imagery.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest multimedia franchise in the world, and its projects enjoy some of the biggest budgets. So why do so many of their special effects look so terrible? There are a number of reasons for this, tied to both larger cultural trends, the visual effects sector as a whole, and the peculiarities of Marvel Studios’ production methodology. The result of all this comes together to explain why some of the most expensive movies on the planet look so cheap.

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

New Irish Independent Column! On the Rehabilitation of the “Star Wars” Prequels…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi next week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the slow and steady rehabilitation of the Star Wars prequels.

To a certain generation of Star Wars fans, the prequels will always be an abomination. Over the years, the three films have become a punchline to a joke that nobody began, an impression reinforced through popular culture. However, recent years have seen an appreciable shift in how the prequels are portrayed, with fans seeming to come around on the films and Disney seeming to fold them into the larger marketting of the brand. It’s interesting to look at how (and why) that happened.

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