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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.

The X-Files – Babylon (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

There are two schools of thought on Babylon.

The first school of thought is that the episode is quintessentially X-Files. It is Chris Carter taking advantage of the flexibility of the show’s form to produce an episode of television that looks utterly unlike anything else on television. This is the series at its most creative and its most gonzo, the free-spirited free association that powered early Carter episodes like Syzygy, The Post-Modern Prometheus, Triangle, Fight Club, First Person Shooter and Improbable. It is crazy and “out there”, but… well, so is the truth.

Party on, Mulder.

Party on, Mulder.

The second school of thought is that the episode is spectacularly and recklessly ill-judged. Although undoubtedly well-intentioned, Chris Carter produces a script that is deeply problematic and even potentially inflammatory. Given that so much of the script hinges on the idea that thoughts have “mass” and that ideas can be dangerous, the resulting episode is definitely clumsy and borderline reckless in its exploration of a sensitive issue. This is just as problematic as “classic” episodes like Teso Dos Bichos, Teliko or Badlaa.

Both of these things can be true.

"... I just don't think it'll understand..."

“… I just don’t think it’ll understand…”

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