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New Escapist Column! On “Dune” and What It Means to Be Human…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Dune, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the new film.

Dune is an epic science-fiction story. It is a classic of the genre. One of the reasons that it has held up for so any decades is because its themes remain universal. Dune is essentially a story about what it means to be human. In particular, it interrogates that question through a postcolonial lens. The default logic of these sorts of narratives asks the oppressed to assert their dignity and humanity. (Even Denis Villeneuve’s last film, Blade Runner 2049, is about a synthetic human proving his humanity.) In contrast, Dune inverts this by directing challenging the humanity of those who would indulge in colonialism and imperialism.

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

New Escapist Video! “Dune Is One of the Year’s Best Movies – Review”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie 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 three-minute film review of Dune, which is released theatrically in Europe and the United States next weekend.

New Escapist Column! On the Return of the Hollywood Epic…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Green Knight, and the upcoming releases of movies like Dune and The Last Duel, it seems like the old-fashioned Hollywood epic might be making a comeback.

This is interesting, as the genre has long been a Hollywood staple. Most people obviously think of the big biblical epics from the middle of the twentieth-century – Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, Quo Vadis? However, there was an interesting revival at the turn of the millennium with the release of Gladiator and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Hollywood failed to really reignite the genre. However, that failure has not been for lack of trying.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Promise and Peril of “Dune: Part One”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Last week, footage from the upcoming Dune adaptation was filmed for critics and press to build attention. One of the more interesting revelations from these screenings was that the movie apparently comes with subtitle Dune: Part One.

On one level, this is not really a surprise. It was been reported for years now that the upcoming adaptation would only cover a certain amount of the source novel. However, there is a certain boldness to including a “part one” subtitle on the cinematic release. In one sense, it harks back to the trend in the 2010s of splitting popular books into multi-part adaptations. However, it also suggests the blurring of boundaries between media, implying that this is really the first part of a two-part miniseries, where the production of a second part is contingent upon the commercial performance of the first.

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

215. Dune (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Charlene Lydon and Joe Griffin, 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.

So this week, David Lynch’s Dune.

The galaxy is in turmoil. Rumours swirl of a plot against House Atreides. As Duke Leto Atreides takes control of the desert planet of Dune, he tries to track down the traitors in his midst. Meanwhile, his son Paul finds himself on the verge of an awakening that will have a profound impact on the future of mankind.

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 Video! On “Dune” and “Flash Gordon” as Biblical Epics for the Eighties…

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 the 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.

As Flash Gordon is forty years old this month and as a new Dune was supposed to open this month, I thought it was worth taking a look at Dino DeLaurentiis’ two big eighties science-fiction epics. In particular, the ways in which they responded to Star Wars by drawing on the scale and spectacle of the biblical epics of the fifties.

New Escapist Column! On “Flash Gordon” and “Dune” as Biblical Epics for a Secular Age…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. As this week marks the fortieth anniversary of Flash Gordon and this month would have seen the release of the next cinematic adaptation of Dune, it seemed like a good time to talk about Dino DeLaurentiis’ science-fiction epics.

Flash Gordon and Dune exist in the shadow of George Lucas’ Star Wars, but they are markedly different films. While Lucas drew heavily from classic science-fiction serials, he adopted modern techniques in production and editing. In contrast, Dune and Flash Gordon are more old-fashioned in their storytelling. More than that, with the death of New Hollywood and the emerging blockbuster film market, it seems like the studios leaned rather heavily into the kind of epic that they knew how to make. As a result, Dune and Flash Gordon feel rather like biblical epics… in space!

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

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – ” Mulan, Dune and The Academy”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Bob Chipman for the third episode, primarily discussing Disney’s release of Mulan, the first trailer for Dune and the new changes to eligibility for the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards.

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 Unique Appeal of David Lynch’s “Dune”…

I published a new piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. This week saw the release of the first production photos from Denis Villeneuve, so it felt like the perfect opportunity to take a look back at the last attempted adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic science-fiction classic.

David Lynch’s Dune is not necessarily a coherent film. It’s not a good film by any traditional metric of quality. However, it is a unique film. There has, quite simply, never been another blockbuster like it. It’s a film at war with itself, caught between extremes. The producers clearly want the film to look like a Star Wars rip-off, while Lynch is pulling from his own esoteric influences. The results are dazzling and chaotic. It’s hard to believe that a film like this could ever exist.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Dune” as a Deconstruction of the “Chosen One” Fantasy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. This week saw the release of the first production photos from Denis Villeneuve, so it felt like the perfect opportunity to dig into Frank Herbert’s science-fiction classic.

A lot of the press around Dune is making a big deal about the novel as an epic on the scale of something like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings. However, this seems to sell the novel short. Dune is not a simple “chosen one” fantasy narrative, although it has many of the familiar trappings of the genre. It is the story of a teenage boy who comes to inspire religious devotion in his followers, after all. However, the novel problematicises that sort of story, by complicating the messiah at its core. Dune is warped and grotesque reflection of those power fantasies.

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