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New Escapist Video! “Halloween Kills is a Bloody (and Ambitious) Mess – 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 Halloween Kills, which released theatrically and on Peacock this weekend.

Daredevil – Dogs to a Gunfight (Review)

This month, we’re doing daily reviews of the second season of Daredevil. Check back daily for the latest review.

Dogs to a Gunfight is the only episode of Daredevil to engage with the Punisher on a philosophical level, and it does so only fleetingly.

This is largely because the Punisher still exists as an abstract menace at this point in the narrative. The character stalked through Bang, but was largely remote. The Punisher gets a bit more to do in Dogs to a Gunfight, but is still largely unknowable to the audience. The name “Frank Castle” has yet to be uttered. Although his victims all fit a pattern that will be articulated in Penny and Dime, and expanded upon in The Man in the Box, those facts are concealed from the audience.

Coming up with these puns on a daily schedule promises to be a pun-ishing endeavour...

Coming up with these puns on a daily schedule promises to be a pun-ishing endeavour…

As such, deprived of characterisation or development, Dogs to a Gunfight can present the Punisher in his purest form. The Punisher is a man with a gun who kills bad people. That is a fairly potent vigilante motif, particularly in the current social and political climate. The Punisher is a very loaded concept, tied into broader questions about justice and violence in a way that is more relevant than undead ninja assassins or blind radar-guided superheroes. The Punisher is something very primal and very basic; but also something unsettling in the modern world.

Watching Dogs to a Gunfight, there is a sense that the Punisher might easily have provided a window into a broader cultural debate. Jessica Jones was able to use Kilgrave to jumpstart a clever and insightful discussion about gender issues, so it makes sense that Daredevil might be able to use the Punisher to spark a discussion about contemporary cultures of violence. Unfortunately, it seems like the show sees this discussion coming and runs very quickly.

"The Punisher's just a mad dog. I want whoever let him off the leash."

“The Punisher’s just a mad dog. I want whoever let him off the leash.”

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The X-Files (Topps) #14 – Falling (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Falling is a delightfully nasty piece of work.

It is, to be fair, something that has been gestating for quite a while in Petrucha and Adlard’s extended run on The X-Files. If their first year on the title explored the loose boundary between reality and unreality, their final few issues shifted to more grounded and cynical themes. Most explicitly, the idea that humanity makes the best monsters. It is a gleefully subversive twist on one of the core elements of The X-Files: the idea that monsters are real.

Falling to pieces...

Falling to pieces…

Petrucha and Adlard had broached this before. This was the key point in Big Foot, Warm Heart, where the eponymous creature shows more humanity than the human antagonist of the story. One Player Only featured a delightful red herring when it suggested a murderous artificial intelligence had driven a developer to a killing spree at a software company, only to reveal that the developer’s actions were entirely his own. It will be taken to the logical extreme in Home of the Brave, essentially the duo’s grand finalé.

Blending together the Americana and nostalgia of Stand By Me with the brutal cynicism of Lord of the Flies, Falling is a compelling and unsettling read.

If a tree falls in the woods...

If a tree falls in the woods…

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A Man’s Mann…

I have to confess I was not overly impressed with Public Enemies. In fairness, it was mostly down to the choices Mann made in filming the work – the high definition cameras and the insistence on shakey hand held movement. You might argue that it was a choice designed to place us in the real world of the Great Depression – to put us on the streets with Dillinger and immerse us in his world rather than the sanitised grandiose version of the 1930’s that typically finds its way on to our screens. This ignores one fundamental fact about Mann’s film making: it is no less grandiose or fantastic than those myths of times past. Mann is a film maker who works best exploring the dynamics of a masculine ideal that never existed. His male characters are drawn in the mold of a classic image that never actually existed.

I'll bet Pacino ordered the Large Ham. Overdone. VERY LOUDLY!

I'll bet Pacino ordered the Large Ham. Overdone. VERY LOUDLY!

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