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New Escapist Column! On “Wednesday” and the “Superherofication” of Everything…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the massive success of Wednesday on Netflix, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the show in the context of larger pop culture trends.

Wednesday is an addition to the larger Addams Family franchise, focusing on the family’s eldest child. The show is built around the decision to send Wednesday to an elite private school for freaks and monsters, “Nevermore Academy.” The series obviously riffs on the genre conventions of young adult drama, particularly the high school show. However, it is also notable for leaning into another inescapable trend in contemporary pop culture. At its core, Wednesday is a superhero show.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Strange Worlds” as a Love Letter to Disney’s Forgotten “Boys’ Own” Adventures…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With the release of Strange World, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the latest animated film from Disney.

Many of the more recent high-profile Disney animated films have been anchored in the brand’s “princess” iconography, feeling like extensions of classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Part of what is interesting about Strange World is that it is a movie rooted in another, rather under-explored, chapter in the history of Disney’s animated filmmaking. Strange World is best understood as an extension of the wave of oft-forgotten “Adventureland” movies of the turn of the millennium, those movies aimed more overtly at boys, like Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Better Call Saul”, “Andor” and Slow-Burn Classics…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier this week. As Andor winds down its first season, garnering rave reviews but not attracting as strong an audience as its predecessors, comparisons come to mind concerning Better Call Saul, which has quietly become one of the best television shows of the decade despite never reaching the same level of popularity as its predecessor.

What do Better Call Saul and Andor have in common? What is it that makes both shows so compelling, but which also makes them a tougher sell to audiences than what came before? Are they both just out of step with the zeitgeist, reflecting a mode of television production that doesn’t have the same cultural cachet that it once did? And, most importantly, does any of that matter if they are both creative triumphs? It’s interesting to explore and unpack.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The English” and the British Western…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the release of The English on Amazon Prime in the United States and on BBC in the United Kingdom, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the peculiar phenomenon of the British western.

The western is a quintessentially American genre. It is a foundation myth for the nation. As such, it is an awkward fit for British pop culture, given Britain’s historical relationship to the United States and the fact that Britain’s frontiers have never looked like that. However, given the intricacies of Britain’s relationship to its former colony, it is no surprise that the western has long been the subject of fascination for the British, and that the nation has put its own slant on the genre.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and Complicated Postcolonial Politics…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. This week marks the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and so it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the movie’s complicated postcolonial politics.

Wakanda Forever is a movie fascinated by the consequences of colonialism. Wakanda is defined by the fact that it has never experienced colonialism or imperialism, and Wakanda Forever throws the nation state into conflict with Talokan, a nation with an entire history shaped and defined by colonial violence. This gets at one of the central tensions of Wakanda Forever, in that it is a movie fascinated by the violence commited by victims of colonialism, rather than the violence inflicted by colonial powers.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Andor” as an Embrace of 1970s Retrofuturism…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist last week. With Andor continuring to be very good, it seemed as good an opportunity as any to talk about the show’s unique aesthetic, and how that relates to the original Star Wars.

Andor manages to thread a very fine line. It takes the audience to places that were largely unseen in the original trilogy, from prison planets to remote highlands to sprawling urban centres. However, it does this in a way that manages to feel faithful to the aesthetic of the original films. It does this by embracing the culture and aesthetics of the era around those movies, embracing a version of the science-fiction world that feels very much in step with seventies cinema. The result is something that manages to feel both part of the larger Star Wars universe and also something new to it, while remaining very contemporary.

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

New Escapist Video! “House of the Dragon is a Worthy Return to Westeros”

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 five-minute film review of the first season of House of the Dragon, which is on HBO Max.

New Escapist Column! On “Andor”, Revolution and Reaction…

I am doing weekly reviews of Andor at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the Rogue One prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

The first six episodes of Andor comprised two three-episode arcs, which seemed like a logic structure for the show going forward. However, the seventh episode of the season is a mostly standalone episode, one that seems largely dedicated to the fallout from the previous adventure. However, it’s also a showcase of what Andor does well, particular when compared to so much modern franchise media. It is a cleverly written and thoughtful episode that advances the show’s characters and themes in interesting and compelling ways.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Scream 2” as the Perfect Slasher Sequel…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist last week. With the film’s 25th anniversary approaching and Halloween coming up, it seemed like a good time to talk about Scream 2, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s underrated slasher sequel.

Scream 2 is in many ways the perfect sequel to a smash success like the original Scream, despite its rushed and troubled production. Scream 2 is a movie that manages to both double-down on what made Scream so compelling, while also honing in on the emotional heart of the story being told. It’s the rare sequel that manages to heighten an already heightened premise, without ever losing sight of the characters within the story. It’s clever, it’s funny, but it’s also very sharply observed.

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

New Escapist Video! On “Andor” as a Show About Loving “Star Wars”…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will typically be separate from the written content. 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, we took a look at Andor, the new Star Wars streaming show. There are a lot of interesting things about Andor, including how good it is. However, the show also feels like a meditation on Star Wars as a cultural phenomenon. Showrunner Tony Gilroy has talked candidly about how he was never a particular fan of Star Wars, and ended up working on the franchise almost by accident. As such, Andor feels like it is, in some small way, about learning to love Star Wars and to understand what Star Wars is capable of.