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New Escapist Column! On How “Peacemaker” Juxtaposes Eighties Nostalgia and Modern Masculinity…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re hopefully doing a series of recaps and reviews of James Gunn’s Peacemaker, which is streaming weekly on HBO Max. The first three episodes of the show released today, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Gunn’s filmography is saturated with an affectionate nostalgia for the eighties. It comes to the fore in Peacemaker, down to the casting of John Cena. Cena is a lead actor in the style of classic eighties “hard body” action heroes like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, that nostalgia does not exist purely for its own sake. Peacemaker is a show engaged with modern masculinity, in particular deconstructing the sort of eighties masculinity embodied by its central character. Peacemaker is a story about whether its lead character can change and evolve, emerging from a cocoon as he investigates “Project: Butterfly.”

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

Non-Review Review: Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages actually works quite well as a microcosm of the eighties – in both good and bad ways. It is loud, entertaining, engaging, shallow, beautifully constructed, hypocritical, energetic, charming, tasteless and somehow strangely irresistible in places. While the movie doesn’t necessarily always work, it is a perfect piece of cultural counter-programming to the summer’s sporting events. Light, fun and just a little dazed and confused, Rock of Ages is self-aware enough that it never collapses under its own weight. While it’s unlikely to be remembered as the best of the summer, it is a charmingly cheesy (if occasionally clumsy) power ballad musical that does exactly what it says on the tin.

He’s already made his marker…

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Non-Review Review: The Expendables

Nostalgia is a double-edged sword. When it was mentioned that Sly Stallone would be putting together a dream team of action movie stand-bys – Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren – our minds immediately go to a happy a place. We remember the joys of films like Rambo: First Blood or Die Hard or Total Recall. However, we forget that a great many of the films produced over that iconic era we look back to were also just plain terrible (or, at best, woefully mundane): Red Heat, Cobra, Tango and Cash, among many others. Sadly The Expendables stands more with the latter than the former. Which is a damn shame.

Sly managed a long and arduous shoot...

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