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New Escapist Video! “The Suicide Squad – 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 The Suicide Squad, which is releasing theatrically in Europe this week and in cinemas and on MBO Max in the United States next weekend.

New Escapist Column! On “Black Widow” and the MCU’s Humour Problem…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Black Widow last weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at one of the film’s biggest issues and one of the biggest issues with the MCU in general: the question of tone.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is funny. It has always been funny. This is part of what distinguished it from a lot of its comic book movie contemporaries when it was released. However, as the universe has progressed and evolved, the “house style” has tended towards ironic and self-aware punchlines. Sometimes this approach works beautifully; many of the best Marvel Studios films are also the funniest. However, it can also serve as a distraction that lowers the dramatic stakes and undermines key character beats.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Loki” Betrayed Itself…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Loki wrapping up its first season this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the show. In particular, how the season finale betrayed the show’s core themes and characters.

Loki is a story about many things, but it is primarily about power. It is about whether individuals have the power to determine the paths of their own lives. It is about who has the power to determine what stories get told and what they do with that power. It is also about how power intrinsically acts in its own best interests. There’s a lot of really interesting and biting stuff in Loki, which makes it slightly frustrating when the final makes a conscious choice to rob its characters of their agency, to reveal that this story doesn’t belong to them, and to argue that power must be centralised. In the end, Loki betrayed itself.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Rick and Morty” Embracing Exponentiation Over Escalation…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The fifth season of Rick and Morty is currently airing, a the most recent episode has been greeted as a modern classic, so it seemed like a good time to take a look at what makes the show work.

Rick and Morty is a science-fiction comedy. Both comedy and science-fiction thrive off the dramatic principle of escalation, of extrapolating from one iteration of an idea to the next. What is so interesting about Rick and Morty is how the show adopts an exponential approach to that philosophy. The comedy and the stakes of Rick and Morty often derive from starting with a straightforward science-fiction concept and then doubling down on it repeatedly.

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

New Escapist Video! On the Tenets of “TENET”…

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 every second 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 content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, given that TENET is now available to stream in the United States and around the world, it seemed like a good time to take a look at Christopher Nolan’s latest. In particular, a look how the themes of TENET resonate with other films in Nolan’s filmography, from Memento to The Prestige to Inception to Interstellar.

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 “Invincible” as a Celebration of Superhero Storytelling…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the end of the first season of Invincible, it seemed like a nice opportunity to take a look at what makes the animated superhero show so interesting.

A lot of the discussion of Invincible has focused on the violence of the show, with many commentators arguing that Invincible is a deconstruction of classic superhero tropes. However, what’s striking about Invincible is what this violence conceals. At its core, Invincible is a surprisingly earnest and conventional superhero story, executed with a minimum of ironic detachment and self-aware distance. It is not a deconstruction of the tropes of superhero storytelling, but an earnest celebration of them.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Legacy of “Game of Thrones”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the tenth (or “iron”) anniversary of Game of Thrones coming up, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the show’s enduring legacy – in particular, the disconnect between the internet’s narrative of that legacy and the reality of it. To listen to the internet, Game of Thrones ended in such a way as to erase its cultural footprint and any residual cultural goodwill towards it. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk, at length, about how nobody talks about Game of Thrones anymore. However, there’s a fascinating dissonance here, because Game of Thrones appears to be thriving by any quantifiable measure. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” as a Superheroic Reconstruction….

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it seemed like a good time to talk about the film.

In particular, it’s interesting to look at Zack Snyder’s three films as a set, and to chart the journey through deconstruction from Man of Steel through Batman v. Superman and into the final reconstruction. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is essentially a reconstruction of these iconic characters and a celebration of the potential of these comic book characters.

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

New Escapist Column! Twenty Years Later, “Battle Royale” Still Stands Apart…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because Battle Royale is twenty years old this month, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the iconic Japanese film.

In the years since the release of Battle Royale, there has been an explosion of dystopian young adult fiction based around similar premises: the idea of children forced to kill other children to survive. There are plenty of examples of this subgenre, most notably The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner. However, Battle Royale has aged better than these other films for two core reasons. First of all, it acknowledges the horror of its premise, rather than sanitising it. Second of all, it understands that this social decay is perhaps more mundane than sensationalist.

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