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New Escapist Column! A Look Back at The First Season of “Daredevil”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With WandaVision launching this weekend, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at Marvel’s first foray into streaming.

The series produced by Netflix are largely forgotten and overlooked in histories of the shared universe, which makes sense given that they operated at a remove from contemporaneous features like Avengers: Age of Ultron or Captain America: Civil War. However, when it originally premiered, the first season of Daredevil was jaw-dropping. It was bold and ambitious in a way that stood apart from the rest of the live action content associated with the studio. Marvel Studios could learn a lot from it as they return to the medium.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Doctor Who” Is Less “Woke” Than It’s Been In Decades…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With rumours that Jodie Whittaker may be departing Doctor Who, it seems an appropriate time to look back her time on the show. In particular, the weird political furore around it.

Under producer Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who has been criticised for being “too woke” and “too politically correct.” This is interesting, because – if anything – the show is more conservative than it has been at any point since the mid-eighties. Under Chibnall, Doctor Who believes that “the systems aren’t the problem” and is openly deferential to authority. It frequently rejects the idea of radical systemic change, instead suggesting that the status quo is something to be preserved rather than disturbed.

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

New Escapist Column! On the “Karate Kid” Franchise as an Exploration of Hollywood’s Complicated History with the Martial Arts…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The new season of Cobra Kai launched on Netflix today, so it seemed like a good excuse to take a look back at the Karate Kid franchise.

The Karate Kid franchise is often overlooked in discussions of the American action movie, particular the American martial arts movie. However, the films offer a fascinating snapshot of the tension that existed within Hollywood around martial arts during the seventies and into the eighties. The genre was largely imported from East Asia, however it was quickly reworked and reinvented as an American genre. Indeed, one of the recurring tensions within the Karate Kid franchise is the idea of appropriation – of who karate “belongs” to and what happens when others try to take it.

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

New Escapist Video! On How Christopher Nolan Became the Internet’s Villain…

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 the Monday 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 channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

There’s been an interesting shift in the past decade. Christopher Nolan was once a filmmaker who was generally well-liked by the internet, but in recent years has been increasingly vilified. This transition is interesting, in large part because of what it says about larger trends in pop culture and how audiences approach pop culture.

New Escapist Column! On “Die Hard” as a Christmas Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It’s Christmas, so it’s worth reopening the old chestnut: is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

Obviously, what is and is not a Christmas movie is highly subjective. Everybody has their own movies associated with the holiday. That said, Die Hard occupies a strange space in the Christmas landscape. It is a movie set at Christmas, and which has gradually become more and more associated with the holiday over the years. More than that, its structure and themes are inexorably tied to the season of peace on earth and goodwill towards all men. There’s even a bearded man flying through the sky at the climax.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Batman Returns” as the Most Unconventional Christmas Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It’s Christmas, so it seemed like a good time to take a look back at one of the most underappreciated Christmas movies ever: Batman Returns.

Batman Returns is a decidedly unconventional Christmas movie, packed with weirdos and freaks, commercialism run amok and climaxing with the aborted mass murder of an entire city’s firstborn sons. However, it is this weirdness that makes Batman Returns such a delightful Christmas movie, and one that is arguably perfectly suited to this most strange and surreal Christmas. At its core, Batman Returns is a mood piece built around what it feels like to be lonely at Christmas.

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

New Escapist Column! Twenty Years Later, “Battle Royale” Still Stands Apart…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because Battle Royale is twenty years old this month, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the iconic Japanese film.

In the years since the release of Battle Royale, there has been an explosion of dystopian young adult fiction based around similar premises: the idea of children forced to kill other children to survive. There are plenty of examples of this subgenre, most notably The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner. However, Battle Royale has aged better than these other films for two core reasons. First of all, it acknowledges the horror of its premise, rather than sanitising it. Second of all, it understands that this social decay is perhaps more mundane than sensationalist.

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

New Escapist Video! On “Dune” and “Flash Gordon” as Biblical Epics for the Eighties…

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 the Monday 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 channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

As Flash Gordon is forty years old this month and as a new Dune was supposed to open this month, I thought it was worth taking a look at Dino DeLaurentiis’ two big eighties science-fiction epics. In particular, the ways in which they responded to Star Wars by drawing on the scale and spectacle of the biblical epics of the fifties.

New Escapist Column! “Kong: Skull Island” and the Monster in All Human Hearts…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the announcement that all Warner Brothers films are going to HBO Max, I thought I’d take a look at one of the films related to that move, in particular Godzilla vs. Kong and one of the films leading into it, Kong: Skull Island.

Skull Island is easily the best of the films leading into Godzilla vs. Kong. It is appreciably stronger than either Godzilla or Godzilla: King of the Monsters. A large part of that is down to the fact that it actually has themes, using its central monster to construct an exploration of the idea of warfare. Indeed, one of the more interesting aspects of Skull Island is the way that it implicitly positions King Kong in parallel with Godzilla, turning the giant monkey into a metaphor for the American experience of warfare in the twentieth century.

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

New Escapist Column! On How Christopher Nolan Became the Internet’s Villain…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Last week, the cinematic wold was shaken by the announcement that Warner Bros. would be releasing their entire cinematic slate day-and-date on HBO Max. This drew a lot of discussion and debate, but also demonstrating one of the internet’s weird cinematic fault lines: the strong hatred of director Christopher Nolan.

Nolan is one of the most interesting directors working the day. He is the last director who can approach a major studio with an original idea and secure hundreds of millions of dollars to realise it with minimal interference. In his early career, Nolan was a critical and internet darling, with a strong online following. However, since around 2012, Nolan has become a figure of a vocal and persistent derision online, much of which is anchored in the portrayal of the director as an old-fashioned auteur with a distinct sensibility.

This hatred of Nolan – which seems to bubble over in relation to anything from Anne Hathaway sharing chat show anecdotes about working with him to his reasonable critique of Warner Bros. failing to inform any of their directors or collaborators about the move to HBO Max – is interesting because it tied to other cultural trends that overlap. The internet’s passionate dislike of Nolan reflects broader shifts in the embrace of an intellectual-property- and corporate-identity-driven fandom. This hatred of Nolan often feels like a hatred of what he represents as a filmmaker.

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