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New Escapist Column! On How the MonsterVerse Has Forsaken Awe and Wonder…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, it seemed like a good opportunity to look at the film in the context of the larger MonsterVerse – in particular, Godzilla and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Godzilla vs. Kong is pure spectacle. The film features a host of impressive and showstopping sequences, including two major bouts between the title characters. However, there is something missing in all of this carnage. Like King of the Monsters before it, and like a lot of other modern blockbusters, there’s a curious lack of awe and wonder to the spectacle on display.

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

A smashing success?

New Escapist Video! On “Justice League” and the Triumph of Art Over Content…

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 Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the theatrical release of Justice League. In particular, the differences between the two cuts and the way in which the theatrical cut was a cynical plot to erase any distinct identity from the film and reduce it to empty superhero “content.”

New Escapist Column! On “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” and Superman as an Inspiration…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to dig into the movie’s portrayal of Superman.

Snyder’s portrayal of Superman has always been controversial among more hardcore fans of the character, particularly in Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. There are those who claim that Snyder misunderstands the Man of Steel, and that his films fail to grasp the most compelling aspect of his character. Instead, Zack Snyder’s Justice League offers a fascinating and rounded view of the superhero, one not defined by nostalgia for past iterations – but instead by hope for the generations inspired by him.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” as a Superheroic Reconstruction….

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it seemed like a good time to talk about the film.

In particular, it’s interesting to look at Zack Snyder’s three films as a set, and to chart the journey through deconstruction from Man of Steel through Batman v. Superman and into the final reconstruction. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is essentially a reconstruction of these iconic characters and a celebration of the potential of these comic book characters.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Horror of Joss Whedon’s “Justice League”…

I published a new column at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League this week, it seemed like an appropriate opportunity to take a look at the original theatrical cut of Justice League, which remains one of the worst blockbusters of the past decade.

What makes the theatrical cut of Justice League such an insidious film isn’t just what it is, although it is terrible on its own terms. It’s what the film represents. It’s a very conscious and very deliberate erasure of a distinct vision of an expensive creative project, in the hope of serving reheated nostalgic leftovers that fans might gorge themselves upon. It’s pure, empty, vacuous content – a pale imitation of what other companies do better, without a single unique perspective of its own.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “Superman II” as the Rosetta Stone of Zack Snyder’s DCEU…

I published a new column at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League this week, it seemed like an appropriate opportunity to take a look at the strange and enduring influence of Superman II on the DCEU, from Man of Steel forward.

Superman II is one of the cornerstones of the superhero genre. It was the first big superhero blockbuster sequel, setting the stage for the franchises that would follow. It was the first depiction of the urban devastation that has become a fixture of the modern superhero spectacle. However, what makes movies like Man of Steel and Zack Snyder’s Justice League so interesting is the extent to which they interrogate and explore the fantasy presented in Superman II.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “Avatar” as a PG-13 “Aliens”…

I published a new column at The Escapist this evening. With the re-release of Avatar in China this weekend, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look at Jameson Cameron’s blockbuster.

Avatar is often discussed in terms of its relationship to nineties films like Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas and even Fern Gully. However, Avatar is also notable in its similarities to James Cameron’s first proper blockbuster. Avatar often feels like a reworking of Aliens, albeit one aimed at a much broader audience. This is interesting, positioning Avatar as part of a wave of similarly four-quadrant-pleasing reboots and remakes of classic R-rated eighties properties.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Raya and the Last Dragon” and the New Cinema of Reconciliation…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Given the release of Raya and the Last Dragon last week, it seemed like an appropriate time to discuss an interesting and emerging trend, what I call “the New Cinema of Reconciliation.”

The past five years have been extremely turbulent and difficult for the United States and the wider world, and so there is an understandable yearning for a return to normality, a palpable desire to believe that things could go back to normal and that the damage down to the social fabric could be repaired. This is a major recurring motif in films aimed at younger audiences, from Trolls World Tour through to Wonder Woman 1984. However, Raya and the Last Dragon illustrates how complicated this can be.

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

New Escapist Video! On “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the Arbitrary Lines Between High and Low Culture…

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 the 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, with the renewed and ongoing debate between “high” and “low” culture, between “art” and “content”, it seemed like a good time to take a look at one of the more fascinating films to straddle that line. Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth entry in a long-running franchise, a film essentially built around a long car chase and explosions. However it’s also as pure a piece of cinema that has ever been made. It demonstrates the fungibility of those perceived boundaries.

New Escapist Column! On the Fifth Anniversary of “10 Cloverfield Lane”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because it’s the fifth anniversary of 10 Cloverfield Lane, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the paranoid and claustrophobic thriller. In particular, 10 Cloverfield Lane arrived on the cusp of a wave of similar movies about characters trapped and suffocated in claustrophobic horror: films as diverse as Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room and even Todd Haynes’ Carol.

Looking at these wave of films in hindsight, they suggest something simmering beneath the surface of American consciousness, a nightmare about characters who find themselves in hostile and oppressive environments and forced to survive as best they can. 10 Cloverfield Lane was perhaps the culmination of this cinematic trend, and galvanises many of those themes into a potent allegory for abuse and survival, ending with the revelation that not all of this monstrosity is trapped behind locked doors.

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