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New Escapist Video! On How James Cameron is Corny as F&!k…

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 typically be 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.

This week, with Avatar: The Way of Water continuing to dominate the global box office, it seemed as good a time as any to look at the life and career of director James Cameron. In particular, what is it that drives Cameron? What’s the glue that holds this director’s filmography together? It’s a fascinating deep dive on one of the most successful filmmakers of all-time.

New Escapist Column! On 2022 as the Return of Spectacle…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the year wrapping up, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the year in cinema. In particular, one of the big unifying trends in the year’s blockbusters, which balanced a celebration and a fear of spectacle.

This was the year that “movies were back.” Many of the year’s biggest blockbusters were celebrations of blockbuster cinema in its purest form, from the IMAX cinematography of Top Gun: Maverick to the immersive 3D of Avatar: The Way of Water to the breakout international success of RRR. However, there was also an anxiety about the power of spectacle and the toll that it takes, whether on its audience or on its subject. This played out in movies like Nope or Elvis. There was also a clear worry that this might be the end of it all, playing out in movies like Babylon or even Blonde.

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

New Escapist Video! “Avatar: The Way of Water is Visually Stunning, Narratively Fine”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie and television 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 five-minute film review Avatar: The Way of Water, which was released in cinemas this weekend.

New Escapist Column! “Avatar: The Way of Water” and the Failed 3D Revolution…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Avatar: The Way of Water, which is being rightly praised for its use of 3D, it seemed like a good opportunity to discuss the failed 3D revolution sparked (in part) by the original Avatar.

The standard narrative is that 3D was never going to work as a format, and that its death was inevitable. However, there were quite a few successful and well-received 3D movies released around the time of the original Avatar: Coraline, Gravity, The Adventures of Tintin, Hugo, The Life of Pi, The Great Gatsby, Holes. These were all movies with directors willing to play with the format in fun and creative ways, that leaned into the technical possibilities. The problem that arose was similar to a wider problem in the industry at that time, the rejection of filmmaking at that scale as a craft that relied on strong creative vision.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Avatar: The Way of Water” is an Archetypal James Cameron Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the looming release of Avatar: The Way of Water, it seemed like a good time to take a look at Cameron’s aquatic, which might be his most personal and intimate movie ever.

Cameron’s filmography is interesting and varied, working in a number of genres and registers across his career. However, he has a set of familiar preoccupations: water, industrialisation, militarism, environmentalist, parenthood, feminism and so on. However, it’s fascinating that one of the most consistent threads across Cameron’s filmography is an evolving idea of family. Cameron’s epics are often stories of families pulling themselves together in the face of crisis. The Way of Water is no different.

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

New Irish Independent Column! On James Cameron’s Big Bet on “Avatar: The Way of the Water”…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the looming release of Avatar: The Way of Water, it seemed worth taking a look at James Cameron’s approach to the sequel.

Over the past few years, it has become quite common for critics to argue that Avatar has no cultural footprint, that nobody can remember the names of its leads or it villains. This is interesting, because it offers a very modern conception of a “cultural footprint”, one that makes sense after decades of comic book movies have imprinted characters like Thanos and Doctor Strange on the public consciousness. Cameron isn’t releasing a blockbuster to compete with these films. Instead, he’s hoping that his sequel can make money by appealing to an older ideal of the cinematic experience.

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

New Escapist Column! On Modern Hollywood’s Daliance with Decadence…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The year’s awards season has a whiff of decadence about it. Movies seem to be getting longer. Directors are making autobiographical movies about their own childhoods. There’s a fascination with tearing down old Hollywood myths.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the re-emergence of water tank movies, of expensive blockbusters set in and around water. After all, water is expensive and dangerous. More than that, there’s no real evidence that audiences are particularly enthused or excited by water, it’s simply something that costs a lot of money to do. Throughout Hollywood’s history, whenever the blockbuster industry drives itself into a heated frenzy, movies embrace the water. James Cameron has always been riding te crest of that particular wave.

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

New Podcast! The Spookies Podcast – “Fanboy Industrial Complex II: With Darren Mooney”

I was thrilled to be invited to join the wonderful Michael and Stephanie Little for an episode of their new podcast, The Spookies Podcast.

It was a fun conversation, if a little bit chaotic. We got to talk about everything from Aquaman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: Way of Water, through to the state of the Star Wars brand, and even to the differences between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

You can listen directly to the episode below or by clicking here.