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New Escapist Column! On “Mad Max: Fury Road” and Finding Hope Amid the Apocalypse…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week. There’s understandably been a lot of talk about the end of the world lately, understandably, but I thought it was worth unpacking Mad Max: Fury Road.

Fury Road is one of the best blockbusters of the past decade, appearing on countless lists of the best films of the 2010s. However, what distinguishes it from a lot of apocalyptic cinema is that it embraces hope in a very meaningful and practical way. Fury Road is largely about the impulse to retreat from horror and from untenable situations, to abandon a world that appears to be fallen. However, the film argues that such an impulse is ultimately self-destructive, as eventually such a retreat runs out of road. Instead, Fury Road contends that the proper response to a broken world is to turn around and face it head on, to fix it from the inside. It’s a brave and empowering message, and a large part of the film’s appeal.

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

New Escapist Column! On COVID-19 and a Globalised Film Industry…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last week. Ironically, it’s probably already well out of date.

In the time since the article was published last Monday, the COVID-19 pandemic has only escalated further. Movie and television studios have halted production and distribution of various major titles. However, all of this illustrated how incredibly globalised the modern film industry truly is, both in the stories that we tell and the manner in which we are telling them. These are films that rely on global audiences, and so an outbreak in Japan and China has major repercussions within Hollywood itself.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “The Hunt” as Empty Provocation…

I published a new piece at Escapist Magazine last week. This is one has been a while in the making, since at least August last year.

The Hunt was massive controversial before anybody had actually watched the finished cut of the film. It attracted the ire of Fox News and, through that, Donald Trump. Universal pushed the film back, eventually settling on a mid-March release date, with the advertising leaning heavily into that controversy as a selling point. As such, it’s impossible to discuss The Hunt without discussing the maelstrom around it. This means that the movie itself feels like a disappointment and a damp squib. Its potent political content is nothing more than empty provocation, its biting social commentary just an elaborate troll. The Hunt has nothing to say, which is particularly disappointing as it is sandwiched between the genuinely political provocations of The Invisible Man and Promising Young Woman.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “Necessity” of the R-Rating for “Birds of Prey”…

I published an In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last Friday, looking at the debate around the “R-rating” that Birds of Prey earned.

Following the film’s release, there’s been a lot of a debate around Birds of Prey, particularly in light of its box office performance. One of the more interesting arguments has been around the film’s age rating, with several pundits arguing that the film did not “need” to be rated R, that it could have been cut to a PG-13 movie without losing anything of value. This is an interesting argument, one that deserves a little interrogation. After all, the scenes which likely earned Birds of Prey its R-rating – certainly the scenes singled out as unnecessary by such critics – are essential to its identity. They make the film unique and distinct.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Computer-Generated James Dean and the Collapse of Movie Stardom into Intellectual Property…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine yesterday evening. This one covered the news that a computer-generated James Dean would be starring in a significant secondary role in the upcoming Finding Jack.

It’s an interesting precedent, the resurrection of a dead star to appear in a work completely unrelated to their previous commitments or roles. In some senses, although this particular case is very odd, it feels like a trial balloon for a larger shift happening behind the scenes. Over the past couple of decades, Hollywood has been moving closer and closer to intellectual property as a driving force behind its movie-making. The idea that movies could be populated with computer facsimiles of recognisable stars represents an attempt to collapse movie stardom into that intellectual propertisation.

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

New Escapist Column! “Doctor Who”, “Mission to the Unknown” and Resurrecting the Lost Past…

I published a new Don’t Miss It! piece at Escapist Magazine over the weekend. This one looking at one of the genuine marvels of the modern internet.

Students at the University of Central Lancaster lovingly recreated a lost episode of Doctor Who. Mission to the Unknown was purged from the BBC archives, and thought forever lost along with a host of other classic adventures, so it is amazing to see it brought to life. It is a fascinating episode in a number of respects, from its position as a prelude to the epic Daleks’ Master Plan through to the fact that it’s the rare Doctor Who story without any involvement of the Doctor whatsoever. More than that, though, the recreation is a stunning piece of work from all involved.

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

New Escapist Column! “Gemini Man”, and the Battle Between Hollywood’s Past and Future…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine on Friday. This one takes a look at Gemini Man.

Ang Lee’s latest is a very strange beast, a nineties action movie throwback wrapped in modern technology. It pits nineties action movie icon (and one of the last surviving movie stars) Will Smith against a young computer-generated replacement, while allowing Ang Lee to embrace both a strange fascination with nineties era John Woo and his enthusiasm for technology literally so advanced that no cinema in the United States could show the film as intended. And this tension between old and new plays through Gemini Man in interesting ways.

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