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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.

New Escapist Column! On “Black Adam” as a Superhero Vanity Project…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. The big release of the week was Black Adam, the superhero blockbuster starring Dwayne Johnson as the eponymous antihero.

Part of what makes Black Adam so fascinating is the sense in which it exists between two very different styles of big budget Hollywood production. Most obviously, it’s a big and bombastic superhero blockbuster, albeit one built around a less well-known character. However, it also feels like an old style of blockbuster. It feels very much like a superhero vanity project for Dwayne Johnson, an effort to tie his star power into its own high-profile intellectual property.

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

Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor (Review)

“Forced regeneration. Forced degeneration.”

The Power of the Doctor is in some ways a fitting conclusion to the Chibnall era, and an illustration of the era’s lost potential.

Trained for this.

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New Escapist Column! On “The Batman” as an Argument for Superheroes…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. With the release of The Batman this weekend, it seemed a good opportunity to take a look at the film, and what it says about the state of the superhero genre.

The superhero genre is arguably the dominant mode of American blockbuster cinema, the prism through which the populist form must be viewed in its present incarnation. Perhaps the superhero is best understood as a descendent of the classic pop archetypes like the cowboy or the gangster. However, very few superhero films actively engage with what that transition actually means, what makes the superhero a more modern American archetype than the cowboy or the gangster. The Batman is the rare superhero movie engaged with this question.

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

New Escapist Video! On What Makes “The Suicide Squad” the Year’s Best Blockbuster…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am doing some film critic work at The Escapist. Part of that includes long-form video criticism, such as this piece which is now available to watch at YouTube, editted by the wonderful Matt Laughlin, looking at what makes The Suicide Squad the best blockbuster of the year to date.

New Escapist Video! On the Theme Park Ride Appeal of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”…

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’s 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 content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, with Raiders of the Lost Ark celebrating its fortieth anniversary, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film. In particular, how Spielberg built Raiders of the Lost Ark as a cinematic spectacle. It is one of the purest blockbusters, but also a triumph of filmmaking.

241. Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Ressha-Hen (Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train) – This Just In (#238)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Graham Day and Bríd Martin, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Haruo Sotozaki’s Demon Slayer – The Movie: Mugen Train.

Following a series of mysterious disappearances on a train from Tokyo to Mugen, three young demon slayers are dispatched to investigate possible supernatural influences. The three quickly team up with a veteran soldier in the battle against evil, and discover just how quickly their mission can go off the rails.

At time of recording, it was ranked 238th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Video! On “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” as the First Fan Service Blockbuster…

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 Mortal Kombat, we thought we’d give audiences what they really wanted. Yes, that’s right: a deep dive on Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

New Escapist Column! On “Fast Five” as the Best (and Most Complete) “Fast and Furious” Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of the trailer for F9, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the best entry in the larger Fast & Furious franchise: Fast Five. Fast Five arrived at an important moment for the larger Fast and Furious franchise, representing a pivot point between the earlier urban western adventures and the superpowered blockbusters that would follow. Fast Five is the moment at which the film series commits to becoming a twenty-first century blockbuster franchise, but also never loses sight of the origin. The result is a movie that is perhaps the most holistic and representative embodiment of the Fast and Furious as a franchise. 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.