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New Escapist Column! On What We Talk About When We Talk About Looking for “the next Game of Thrones”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Wheel of Time this week, there’s been a lot of publicity describing the show as potentially “the next Game of Thrones.”

It’s interesting to ponder what people actually mean when they talk about “the next Game of Thrones.” After all, Game of Thrones existed in a category unto itself. If anything, it answered the question of what “the next Lostor “the next Sopranosmight look like, with those perhaps answering the question of “what the next E.R.or “the next Twin Peaksmight look like, and so on. Game of Thrones was a smashing success that nobody saw coming, and which looked utterly unlike anything on television. That means that “the next Game of Thrones” probably won’t look anything like Game of Thrones.

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

New Escapist Review! “Wheel of Time”…

I published a new review at The Escapist today. Wheel of Time is premiering on Amazon on Friday, and I was lucky enough to see the first six episodes.

Publicity around Wheel of Time has mostly focused on comparisons to Game of Thrones. This is reductive, and not just because Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic predates that of G.R.R. Martin. In reality, Wheel of Time often feels like a warm-up for Amazon’s upcoming adaptation of Lord of the Rings. As one might expect, given the source material, Wheel of Time offers a detailed and compelling fantasy world, but the series gets a little bit too preoccupied with setting all of its balls in motion rather than engaging with the story that it is telling.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Ghostbusters”, and How Irreverence Became a Source of Reverence…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the original Ghostbusters.

The original Ghostbusters was a wry and cynical movie about three academics who find themselves forced to work in the public sector, and so start a business busting ghosts in a run-down and decaying New York City. The film was very self-aware and very glib, essentially built around the idea that three men who would be con artists in any other situation were able to come out on top in eighties America. However, in the years since, Ghostbusters has become an institution. What was once irreverent is now venerated, without any of the self-awareness that made the first film so compelling.

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

New Escapist Video! “Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a Lifeless Franchise Resurrection”

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 Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which will release in theatres next weekend.

New Escapist Column! On “The Lord of the Rings” as a Blockbuster for the Post-Ironic Age…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the twentieth anniversary of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings fast approaching, it seemed like a good opportunity to place the films in the context of their times.

Obviously, every work reflects the time in which it is produced – it speaks to a variety of factors (consciously or unconsciously) acting on the creative talent as it evolves into its final form. However, audiences also can’t help but engage with a work in the context of the time in which it is released. Peter Jackson shot most of his Lord of the Rings trilogy before 9/11, even if The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings was released in theatres three months after the attack. Still, it’s not to feel like the films’ earnestness and sincerity resonated with an audience looking for meaning in seemingly chaotic and arbitrary time.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Coolness of Boba Fett…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the recent trailer for the upcoming Book of Boba Fett, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the character of Boba Fett.

Boba Fett is an interesting character, in large part because there has always been a huge dissonance between how cool he looks and how cool he acts. This is the more compelling facet of the character, the dissonance between the characters as a cool action figure and his general uselessness within the larger narrative of the saga. George Lucas seemed to play with this idea very pointedly and purposefully, and it’s a nuance that many subsequent takes on the character have tended to ignore or overlook.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Size and Spectacle of “Dune”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Dune continuing its dominance at the global box office, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the movie’s size and scale.

It is stating the obvious to describe Dune as “big.” However, the description is accurate. Still, what’s notable about Dune is how Denis Villeneuve uses that sense of scale and spectacle. Dune is so large that it often threatens to burst out of the IMAX frame, to break the confines of the generous format. Villeneuve uses that size to underscore the core theme of the book, the question of how small these individuals can seem when confronted with systems and forces that operate on unimaginable scales.

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

New Escapist Video! “Army of Thieves Is a By-The-Numbers Heist Movie – 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 Army of Thieves, which will release on Netflix this weekend.

New Escapist Column! On “The Batman” and the Obsession with a Grim and Gritty Caped Crusader…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. The latest trailer for The Batman has reopened a familair debate within fandom around a sensitive topic: the question of a grim and gritty Batman.

Certain fans react strongly against takes on comic book characters that do not match their own particular tastes. In particular, there’s a tendency to react strongly to interpretations of the Caped Crusader that emphasise the character as grounded and pulpy, to act as if these takes exist at the expense of others. In reality, there is a rich variety of takes on the Dark Knight in popular culture, of various shapes and sizes. There is a Batman for all seasons, and often these arguments feel less about trying to argue for more diverse takes on classic characters and instead about arguing that there is only one right take.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” as a Romantic Comedy…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. With Venom: Let There Be Carnage releasing in Irish cinemas this weekend, it seemed like as good an opportunity as any to take a look at the film.

Like its predecessor, Let There Be Carnage isn’t really a functional superhero movie, at least in the sense that modern audiences understand the genre. It’s lumpy, it’s irrational, it’s more interested in immediate thrills than world building. However, despite this, Let There Be Carnage is a surprisingly effective romantic comedy. It’s built around many of the same conventions and adheres to many of the same beats, telling a heart-warming story of an alien symbiote and its parasite.

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