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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 Column! On “WandaVision” and “Loki”, and the Challenges to the MCU Canon…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist earlier this week. With Loki delving into the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s interesting to wonder why the modern stage of the MCU seems so preoccupied with its own history and continuity.

Black Widow will be a prequel. The Eternals will chart the secret history of a corner of the larger universe. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will potentially retcon Iron Man 3. On top of that, Spider-Man: Far From Home teased the possibility of a multiverse, while WandaVision warped reality. As such, it seems like the franchise is building towards something – but what could that be and what does it mean for the shared universe’s canon?

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

New Escapist Column! On “Loki” as a Fugitive From Continuity…

I published a new column at The Escapist yesterday. Following the premiere of Loki, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look at some of the meta-fictional aspects of the beloved trickster.

At its core, Loki is essentially the story of a character trying to escape their own narrative and wrest control of the story in which they’ve found themselves trapped. The title character of Loki has always been a supporting player, an antagonist or an ensemble player. Loki finds the character pushing his way to the fore, trying to figure out his own arc and his own place when he is no longer defined by the role that he has played for the past decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Mission: Impossible” Would Cause Fan Outrage Today…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Brian dePalma’s Mission: Impossible turning twenty-five years old this month, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look back the film that started the modern iteration of the franchise.

In hindsight, it is impossible to imagine Mission: Impossible getting made today. The movie’s big twist is the revelation that the one character carried over from the television show, a standard bearer for the larger franchise, has secretly betrayed everything that the audience took for granted. The twist was controversial at the time, with several members of the original cast and some fans objecting to the characterisation. However, in a franchise-driven age where any deviation from the template is a source of outrage, it’s impossible to imagine Mission: Impossible attempting anything so bold today.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” in Conversation with the MCU…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the wrapping up of the first season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at the show’s first season – and, in particular, how it positions itself within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is thirteen years old this May. It spans 24 films, a handful of television series and almost a dozen separate film franchises. That is a lot of baggage. Indeed, it seems like the MCU has reached a point where the baggage of its earlier installments exerts almost as much gravity as the source material itself. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feels like a prime example of this, with the series very much engaged in conversation with the films in the Captain America franchise.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Order 66” as the Unlikely Lynchpin of the “Star Wars” Universe…

I published a new column at The Escapist earlier in the week. Given that The Bad Batch launched this week on Disney+, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the way in which it solidifies “Order 66” as an unlikely lynchpin of the larger Star Wars universe.

There are any number of big events in the Star Wars canon, many of which have been depicted on screen – the destruction of Alderaan, the Battle of Yavin, the Battle of Hoth, the Battle of Endor. However, it’s striking that the event that has played most frequently across a wide variety of Star Wars media is the implementation of “Order 66” from the end of the prequels. It speaks to both the power of the event itself, its versatility and scale, but also to how the prequels have been rehabilitated and integrated thoroughly into the canon.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Multiverse as the Future of Franchising…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The past few months have seen a lot of attention directed at the multiverse, with a suggestion that both Warner Bros. and Disney would be embracing it as a storytelling model going forward.

This shift is interesting, given how much effort these companies have build into fashioning internally consistent shared universes, singular narratives unfolding across dozens of films building inexorably towards a climactic pay-off. However, this shift towards the multiverse feels like a logical response to any number of market forces: the shattering of the idea of the monoculture in the midst of the streaming wars, the pull of nostalgia, and the demands of the actors making these movies. It’s a new world. Actually, it’s several new worlds.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Star Wars” Continuity Power Games…

I published a new piece at The Escapist today. As ever, there are rumours in Star Wars fandom about the possibility that the sequel trilogy will be removed from canon.

As ever, these rumours are most likely nonsense designed to generate clicks in an economy that has monetised outrage clicks by stoking and feeding fan resentment and anger. However, they also reveal something very interesting about the nature of canon in modern fandom. The idea of “canon” has nothing to do with continuity. It is instead a way of asserting power and ownership over media, of asserting that a franchise “belongs” to one particular group and not for others.

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

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “An Ever-Escalating Series of Star Wars”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Elijah Beahm for the sixteenth episode. Obviously, the big news is the slate of announcements from Disney’s Investor Day, including plenty of Star Wars and Marvel announcements, more news about Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and reports about Tom Cruise’s rant on the set of the new Mission: Impossible movie.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On “The Mandalorian”, Continuity and Brand Synergy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. There’s been a lot of Star Wars continuity dropped into the second season of The Mandalorian, with Boba Fett returning to the show following his apparent death in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, and the live action introduction of characters like Bo Katan and Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars.

This is interesting, in large part because the first season of The Mandalorian was comfortable aiming for a broader sort of Star Wars nostalgia, things that looked like existing elements of continuity, rather than things that were existing elements of Star Wars continuity. The second season is much more heavy of Star Wars cross-promotion, populated with references designed to push viewers towards supplementary material. This is a nice illustration of transmedia storytelling in the streaming age, where it isn’t enough to attract fans, services have to retain them.

Streaming services hold on to existing subscribers by adding value, and Disney appear to have figured out that continuity offers its own added value. In its second season, The Mandalorian increasingly feels like an advertisement for the other riches that the streaming service has to offer, and a promise that any subscriber who doesn’t cancel once the season is over will have a treasure trove of archival material to binge at their leisure.

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