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315. Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – Bird Watching 2022 (#—)

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

This week, we’re finishing up a season focusing on the work of one particular director: Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland: A World Beyond.

As a young boy, Frank Walker discovered a secret society of geniuses who lived apart from the rest of the world in the hopes of creating a better tomorrow. However, Frank was soon cast out, and found himself increasingly disillusioned with the future. At the same time, a young woman named Casey Newton finds herself drawn back into this web of secrets and possibilities. Can Frank and Casey save the world? And Tomorrowland?

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On What Disney Should Learn from Andor

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. With Andor winding down its first season, it seemed like as good an opportunity to take a look at what Disney could and should learn from the best of their franchise streaming show.

While there is some suggestion that Andor might be less popular on initial release than other Star Wars streaming shows like The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett, there is some sense that Disney recognises that they have created something very special and unique. So what is it that makes Andor so compelling? More than that, what can Disney do to capitalise on that success and replicate it?

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

New Irish Independent Column! On “Willow” and Disney’s Fantasy Pitch…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Willow on Disney+ this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the show means for the Disney brand, and why it is so important to the company going forward.

The past couple of decades have seen an explosion in fantasy film and television: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. However, studios have quickly discovered that audiences aren’t necessarily enthusiastically engaged with fantasy, struggling to connect with the genres. Studios like Disney have invested millions trying to tap into that audience, with numerous high-profile failures. Willow represents the latest attempt by Disney to craft a live action fantasy universe with a built-in fanbase, and the company is using the same playbook that it did with Star Wars.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Strange Worlds” as a Love Letter to Disney’s Forgotten “Boys’ Own” Adventures…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With the release of Strange World, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the latest animated film from Disney.

Many of the more recent high-profile Disney animated films have been anchored in the brand’s “princess” iconography, feeling like extensions of classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Part of what is interesting about Strange World is that it is a movie rooted in another, rather under-explored, chapter in the history of Disney’s animated filmmaking. Strange World is best understood as an extension of the wave of oft-forgotten “Adventureland” movies of the turn of the millennium, those movies aimed more overtly at boys, like Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet.

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

313. Ratatouille – Bird Watching 2022 (#219)

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

This week, we’re continuing a season focusing on the work of one particular director: Brad Bird’s Ratatouille.

Remi is a French rat with a taste for the finer things, quite literally. Remi longs to be a chef. When circumstances bring the young rat to Paris, and into the kitchen of a legendary restaurant, Remi is given the chance of a lifetime to seize his dream. He just needs to grab it by the hair and pull hard.

At time of recording, it was ranked 219th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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311. The Iron Giant – Bird Watching 2022 (#250)

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

This week, we’re kicking off a season focusing on the work of one particular director: Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant.

Hogarth Hughes is a lonely kid coming of age in fifties Maine, when he comes across a very strange creature living in the local wilderness: a gigantic metal man who has crashed on this planet from another world. The two strike up a deep and abiding bond. However, Hogarth very quickly discovers that other forces are also trying to track down his new friend.

At time of recording, it was ranked 250th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “She-Hulk” and Unnecessary Origins…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of She-Hulk, which is streaming weekly on Disney+. The first episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Like a lot of these streaming shows, She-Hulk suffers from an identity crisis. It is caught between the show that it clearly wants to be and its obligations to the familiar formula of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In particular, She-Hulk begins with an extended and unnecessary origin story, which the show itself doesn’t seem particularly enthused about. It’s strictly formula. Giving the first thirty-odd minutes of the show over to this generic and paint-by-numbers exercise undermines a lot of the show’s potential appeal.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Obi-Wan Kenobi” as a Brand Management Checklist…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the broadcast of the final episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi this week, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look back at the show.

Despite a promising start, Obi-Wan Kenobi descended into a mess of content. The final episode was not a story so much as a collection of demands compiled from what the studio assumed that the internet might want. There were gratuitous callbacks to memetic lines. There were largely redundant cameos. There were battles that just ended in stalement because of the understanding of what had to follow. There was the return of characters who last appeared in the premiere, with the assumption that audiences would care about them because they were “important.”

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Moon Knight” Offers an Interesting Solution to the MCU’s Villain Problem…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Moon Knight, which is streaming weekly on Disney+. The second episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

One of the more consistent criticisms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the idea that it suffers from a “villain problem.” While this is perhaps an over-simplification of the situation, there is some truth to the suggestion. Part of what makes Moon Knight so interesting is that the streaming series posits an interesting solution to this long-standing issue. It offers a superhero who can legitimately serve as his own worst enemy.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and the New Age of Disposable Media…

I published a new piece at The Escapist yesterday. One of the big news stories of this week concerned the apparent (albeit accidental) censorship of an episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+.

While the matter was eventually resolved following news coverage and outcry on social media, there is something unsettling about how easily that mistake happened and how readily it could have been missed or overlooked. It underscores the risks of trusting companies like Disney to serve as the digital curators of their own legacy, particularly in a landscape where so much of film and television has alreayd been lost. In some ways, it suggests that the transition to streaming has rendered film and television truly disposable in a way that they haven’t really been in almost half a century.

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