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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.

New Escapist Column! How “The Empire Strikes Back” Invented the Modern Sequel and Franchise…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine late last week, hopefully one a little bit less contentious than discussions of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

The piece takes a look at Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, and the impact that it had on shaping a lot of modern blockbusters. We tend to think of Jaws and Star Wars as the cornerstones of the modern blockbuster movie, and that’s certainly fair. However The Empire Strikes Back has arguably had an even greater impact on the way in which franchise movies are built – from ballooning budgets to the idea of the perpetual second act.

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