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New Escapist Column! On “The Edge of Tomorrow” as the Perfect Video Game Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine yesterday. With the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, I figured it was the perfect chance to revisit the best video game movie ever: The Edge of Tomorrow.

Look, I freely concede that there are maybe some slight issues with that argument, given that The Edge of Tomorrow isn’t actually or literally based on an established video game franchise. However, there’s something very compelling in the way that The Edge of Tomorrow embraces the aesthetics and sensibilities of video games in order to tell its story, offering a much more faithful replication of the experience of playing a video game than films like Street Fighter or Super Mario Brothers.

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

New Escapist Column! On How We’re Still Talking About “Batman vs. Superman” Four Years Later…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine on Monday. Given that last week was the fourth anniversary of Batman vs. Superman, it felt like an appropriate subject to tackle.

I continue to find myself fascinated by Batman vs. Superman, and I’m clearly not the only one. The film still generates a lot of chatter and attention among movie fans and superhero genre fans, particular when a lot of the discussion around other superhero film from the same period – like X-Men: Apocalypse or Fantastic Four – have faded from cultural memory. Indeed, Justice League is arguably only lingers in the memory because of the continuity fascination with what an actual sequel to Batman vs. Superman might look like.

In an era where so much pop culture is transient and disposable, there’s something endearing in the capacity of a film as odd and abrasive as Batman vs. Superman to linger in the public consciousness. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On the Underrated Appeal of “Iron Man 3″…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Given some online debates raging last week, I thought it was worth taking a look back at Iron Man 3.

Iron Man 3 remains a fascinating film, seven years after its release. What is particularly interesting is how fan and general audience opinions are polarised on it. This is not a coincidence. What audiences and critics love about Iron Man 3 is what alienates fans. Iron Man 3 is the rare film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that seems conflicted about superheroes as they exist in contemporary pop culture, and anxious about the implications of approaching them as an expression of the military-industrial complex. The result is the relatively rare Marvel Studios film that is genuinely and engagingly introspective, willing to ask play with expectations and ask questions about the genre’s place in the contemporary pop cultural landscape.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Mad Max: Fury Road” and Finding Hope Amid the Apocalypse…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week. There’s understandably been a lot of talk about the end of the world lately, understandably, but I thought it was worth unpacking Mad Max: Fury Road.

Fury Road is one of the best blockbusters of the past decade, appearing on countless lists of the best films of the 2010s. However, what distinguishes it from a lot of apocalyptic cinema is that it embraces hope in a very meaningful and practical way. Fury Road is largely about the impulse to retreat from horror and from untenable situations, to abandon a world that appears to be fallen. However, the film argues that such an impulse is ultimately self-destructive, as eventually such a retreat runs out of road. Instead, Fury Road contends that the proper response to a broken world is to turn around and face it head on, to fix it from the inside. It’s a brave and empowering message, and a large part of the film’s appeal.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Eternal Appeal of Lando Calrissian…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. With the release of the nine core Star Wars films on streaming in Ultra-HD, I thought it was worth revisiting the most compelling character in the franchise, Lando Calrissian.

Lando is great. A lot of that is down to the cool and charismatic performance of Billy Dee Williams in the role. However, there’s also something very interesting in the way that Lando is built. He’s a lot more flawed than the other heroes of the franchise, a lot more relatable. Lando is a pretty normal guy who suddenly happens to find himself drawn into this epic battle between good and evil, largely to serve as a foil to the genuinely heroic Han Solo. Lando’s primary function is that he demonstrates that Han really is the leader and hero that Leia believes him to be, by showing the audience and the characters what a selfish rogue actually looks like.

It’s a trend that continues with the character, right through to the way in which Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker parallels Lando’s loss of his only child with Han’s loss of his son. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On the Understated Power of Pierce Brosan’s Bond…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week. With the release of No Time To Die pushed out, and St. Patrick’s Day relatively understated, I thought it was worth taking a look at Pierce Brosnan’s tenure playing James Bond.

Brosnan is often overlooked in assessments of the James Bond franchise, largely overshadowed by the (deserved) reappraisal of Timothy Dalton’s vulnerability in the role and the (deserved) celebration of the emotional complexity that Daniel Craig brought to the icon. This is a shame, because there’s a lot to like about Pierce Brosnan’s interpretation of the superspy. Most obviously, there’s a sense in which Brosnan’s interpretation of the character refused to be tormented and tortured by the work that he did. Brosnan played Bond as a man uniquely attuned to the demands of his job, an unchanging man in a rapidly changing world. The result is a character who seems unflinchingly brutal, but who also collapsed his patriotism into satisfaction of his more personal vices.

Whether intentional or not, Brosnan’s interpretation of the character makes the audience uncomfortable, particularly the joy that he takes in violence and the sense in which little really matters to him beyond satisfying his own urges. It’s a provocative approach to the character, one that stands in marked contrast to the more considered introspection of the the two performers either side of him. Brosnan’s Bond often seems to be challenging the audience, asking whether we enjoy the callous violence and detached brutality as much as the protagonist does, without offering us the “get out of jail free” card that Dalton and Craig’s more solemn portrayals afford viewers.

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

New Escapist Column! On COVID-19 and a Globalised Film Industry…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week. Ironically, it’s probably already well out of date.

In the time since the article was published last Monday, the COVID-19 pandemic has only escalated further. Movie and television studios have halted production and distribution of various major titles. However, all of this illustrated how incredibly globalised the modern film industry truly is, both in the stories that we tell and the manner in which we are telling them. These are films that rely on global audiences, and so an outbreak in Japan and China has major repercussions within Hollywood itself.

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