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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.

New Escapist Column! On “Venom” as a Superhero Throwback…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the pending release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Venom.

Venom is not a good movie. It is a mess of a movie. It is chaotic, random, unstructured, nonsensical. However, it is interesting. What is particularly interesting about Venom is the way in which it feels like something of a throwback to an era of a different kind of superhero movie. Venom recalls the superhero movies from the turn-of-the-millennium, films that played faster and looser with their established characters without worrying about fidelity or faithfulness. There’s something interesting in looking at Venom as a superhero movie out of time.

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

New Escapist Column! On Christopher Nolan’s Deal at Universal…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. With the news that Christopher Nolan will be making his next movie at Universal, there was some extreme internet reaction to the deal that Nolan signed.

The overblown and performative online outrage is interesting, and says a lot about the internet’s strange obsession with Christopher Nolan as the only director who really gets to make personal projects at this level. Indeed, the most interesting thing about the internet outrage was how ill-informed it was. Nolan’s terms aren’t especially unusual in the world of directors working at that level. Nolan’s deal is similar to those struck with directors like Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino or even Tyler Perry. It is business as usual.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Pandemic’s Failed Streaming Revolution…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With disappointing box office for Black Widow and Jungle Cruise, and pending lawsuits from actors like Scarlet Johansson, it seemed like a good time to dive back into the ongoing debate about streaming during the pandemic.

With cinemas closed and audiences trapped at home, the pandemic was the perfect testcase for the viability of streaming as a sustainable long-term business model for major Hollywood studios. Many of these studios had been pushing for something like this for decades, to effectively vertically integrate production and delivery. However, with a year of experimentation in the rear view mirror, it increasingly seems like the streaming revolution promised by the pandemic is a bit of a dud.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Promise and Peril of “Dune: Part One”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Last week, footage from the upcoming Dune adaptation was filmed for critics and press to build attention. One of the more interesting revelations from these screenings was that the movie apparently comes with subtitle Dune: Part One.

On one level, this is not really a surprise. It was been reported for years now that the upcoming adaptation would only cover a certain amount of the source novel. However, there is a certain boldness to including a “part one” subtitle on the cinematic release. In one sense, it harks back to the trend in the 2010s of splitting popular books into multi-part adaptations. However, it also suggests the blurring of boundaries between media, implying that this is really the first part of a two-part miniseries, where the production of a second part is contingent upon the commercial performance of the first.

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

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “Will Black Widow Have Us Russian Back to Cinemas?”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Richard Newby for the twenty-first episode of the year. With the release of Black Widow on streaming and in cinemas, there was only one movie to discuss. So we went for a deep dive into Marvel’s interquel, its character-centric movie for a dead Avenger.

You can listen to back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

232. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (-#78)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Richard Drumm and Niall Glynn, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, John R. Leonetti’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage have just won the Mortal Kombat tournament, saving Earthrealm from Outworld. However, the villainous Shao Kahn does not accept victory so easily. Breaking the rules of the tournament, Kahn and his army of monsters launch a full-scale invasion of Earth. Can our heroes stop “the merger” in time?

At time of recording, it was ranked 78th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On 2020 Being Hindsight…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It’s 2021. So it seemed like an appropriate time to take a look back at 2020.

2020 was a game-changing year in many ways, but especially for cinema. It was an exhausting roller coaster of constant news and data, of massive announcements and radical contradictions. Cinemas faced unprecedented hurdles, even as cinema itself seemed to thrive. As a result, it seemed like the right time to take a look back at 2020 as a year in cinema to try and make some sense of it all.

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

Non-Review Review: Cats and Dogs III – Paws Unite

The pandemic has been an interesting time for film critics.

The general dearth of mainstream theatrical releases has allowed critics to essentially pick and choose the films that they cover on streaming. As a general rule, this has led to the elevation of good films, with critics generally picking films out of the mass of streaming service releases that merit coverage and attention – films like Palm Springs or Greyhound. Of course, there have been a couple of stinkers, particularly among children’s fare with mass audience appeal like Artemis Fowl or Scoob!, but by and large critics have been able to avoid true stinkers.

Dogsbody work.

As such, the arrival of Cats and Dogs III – Paws Unite! marks something of a return to normality and business as usual. It is the kind of film that critics would have had to see and review as a matter of course in the pre-pandemic era as a major theatrical release, but which might have slipped under the radar had it gone straight to streaming. Watching Cats and Dogs III – Paws Unite is a reminder of a time not too long ago when critics were expected to see every major theatrical release, no matter how dark or how soul-destroying that experience might be.

With that in mind, there is something almost reassuring in the awfulness of Cats and Dogs III – Paws Unite!, a movie that few critics would actively seek out if it weren’t for the obligations of their job. In a world that is desperately scrambling for any vague sense of a return to normality, Paws Unite! servers as a welcome reminder when seeing terrible movies was the worst thing with which film critics had to contend.

Keep on trucking.

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197. The Circus – This Just In (#232)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.

Desperately fleeing the authorities, a lovable tramp finds his way into the heart of a local circus. Initially struggling to find a place among the performers, the rogue strikes up a connection with the cruel ring master’s daughter. However, as a dashing tightrope walker vies for her affections, can the tramp strike the perfect balance?

At time of recording, it was ranked 232nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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