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New Escapist Column! On the Quiet Revolution of Disney’s Modern Princess Movies…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Encanto this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the animated “princess” movies being produced by Disney.

Disney has always been associated with these movies, dating back to the breakout success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. However, the company has also long had a complicated relationship to them, and in particular the way in which they are perceived as movies aimed at young girls. However, the past decade has seen the studio clever and consistently reinventing this archetypal “fairy tale” sort of story for the twenty-first century, to the point that it’s arguably that the run of movies from Tangled onwards has been the most consistent of the studio’s output.

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

New Escapist Column! On Squaring the Circle with Nostalgic Sequels Like “The Rise of Skywalker” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”…

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 at the larger trend of the modern nostalgia sequels, and the paradoxes at play within the genre.

By their very nature, belated sequels like Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens require the heroes to have left something unfinished or undone for years or even decades. Often, this involves forcing the heroes’ children to effectively grapple with the exact same problem that haunted their parents. There’s a recurring theme of generational failure running through these stories, a sense that the failure of these older heroes to wrap up their own stories exists at odds with the nostalgia that powers such stories.

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

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 Video! On the Reverence for the Irreverent “Ghostbusters”…

So, it’s been a fun road for the video companion series to In the Frame at The Escapist, but all good things must come to an end. It looks like this will be the last episode of the series, at least for a little while. It’s been a pleasure.

That said, it’s a hell of a topic to go out on, as we discuss the strange reverential cult that has developed around Ghostbusters, with the wry and ironic eighties comedy increasingly treated as something of a holy text for a certain generation of fans. It’s a very strange illustration of how nostalgia warps and distorts the very things that it claims to remember.

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 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 Video! On the Myth of a Grim and Gritty Batman…

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’s 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.

With the release of the latest trailer for The Batman, it seemed like a good time to delve into a recurring debate among Batman fans, the argument over whether portrayals of the character are too dark and gritty. It’s a strange argument, given that the only solo Batman movie in the past decade has been The LEGO Batman Movie, so it’s worth unpacking.

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 Column! On Chris Chibnall’s “Doctor Who” Aspiring to Prestige Television…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Doctor Who: Flux launching this weekend, it seemed like a good excuse to take a look back at Chris Chibnall’s tenure as showrunner.

One of the more interesting recurring aspects of Chris Chibnall’s tenure as showrunner of Doctor Who has been the way in which he has embraced a lot of the narrative and visual language associated with “prestige television” – the anamorphic lenses, the muted colour scheme, the serialisation, the minimalism, the self-seriousness. It’s an approach that is an awkward fit for the show, particularly when the era around it seems so lacking in substance. It feels like an unconvincing attempt to argue that Doctor Who is “serious business.”

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