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New Escapist Column! On the Unknowable Monstrosity at the Heart of “Shin Godzilla”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at Japan’s iconic reptilian monster. In particular, the way in which Godzilla evolved from an embodiment of monstrous uncertainty to protector of the planet. In this context, Shin Godzilla is a fascinating piece of work. Building on co-director Hideaki Anno’s work on earlier projects like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Neon Genesis Evangelion, the monster at the centre of Shin Godzilla is hauntingly unknowable, a grotesque intrusion of something almost beyond human comprehension into the material world. The film is all the more effective for that. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On the Legacy of “Game of Thrones”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the tenth (or “iron”) anniversary of Game of Thrones coming up, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the show’s enduring legacy – in particular, the disconnect between the internet’s narrative of that legacy and the reality of it. To listen to the internet, Game of Thrones ended in such a way as to erase its cultural footprint and any residual cultural goodwill towards it. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk, at length, about how nobody talks about Game of Thrones anymore. However, there’s a fascinating dissonance here, because Game of Thrones appears to be thriving by any quantifiable measure. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On the Meaninglessness of “Godzilla vs. Kong”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release and success of Godzilla vs. Kong on HBO Max and in cinemas last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film’s aggressive rejection of meaning. Godzilla vs. Kong is not a movie particularly concerned with subtext or metaphor. It is not a parable for mankind’s confrontation of the unknown, the hunger for war that lurks in every human heart, or even the dangers of how mankind is treating the environment. Instead, it’s a movie about a giant monkey punching a giant lizard until one of them falls down. However, maybe there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, particularly following a year that has – for many people – been over-infused with meaning. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How the MonsterVerse Has Forsaken Awe and Wonder…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, it seemed like a good opportunity to look at the film in the context of the larger MonsterVerse – in particular, Godzilla and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Godzilla vs. Kong is pure spectacle. The film features a host of impressive and showstopping sequences, including two major bouts between the title characters. However, there is something missing in all of this carnage. Like King of the Monsters before it, and like a lot of other modern blockbusters, there’s a curious lack of awe and wonder to the spectacle on display.

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

A smashing success?

New Escapist Video! On “Justice League” and the Triumph of Art Over Content…

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 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.

This week, following the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the theatrical release of Justice League. In particular, the differences between the two cuts and the way in which the theatrical cut was a cynical plot to erase any distinct identity from the film and reduce it to empty superhero “content.”

New Escapist Column! On “Invincible” and the Future of Superheroic Storytelling

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of the first three episodes of Invincible on Amazon Prime on Friday, I thought it was worth taking a look at what the new show means.

Invincible makes a big step forward for Amazon. As Warners and Disney continue consolidating their superhero content under their established brands, other studios are going to have to find ways to compete in the superhero content wars. Invincible is a fascinating testcase: a lavish adult-skewing hour-long animated series that aims to deliver superhero spectacle with a character largely unknown to the larger public. If the chow can make an impact, it bodes well for studios without their in-house intellectual property farms.

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

New Escapist Column! On Zack Snyder’s DCEU as a Joyride Through Comic Book History…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to dig into the movie’s portrayal of Superman.

One of the more interesting aspects of Snyder’s work on Man of Steel, Batman v.s Superman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the sense in which it offers a capsule account of a certain stretch of comic book history, effectively dramatising the characters’ journey from the “dark ‘n’ gritty” comics inspired by Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns to the more aggressively and pointedly reconstructionist work of Grant Morrison on stories like Justice League or Final Crisis.

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

New Escapist Video! On the Paranoid Claustrophobia of “10 Cloverfield Lane”…

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.

This week, to mark the fifth anniversary of 10 Cloverfield Lane, I took a look back at one of the most underrated paranoid thrillers of the decade, arriving on the crest of a wave that included similar films like Room, Green Room, The Hateful Eight and even Carol. It’s a timely, even prescient, snapshot of a cultural moment – and a very well-made film.

New Escapist Video! On “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the Arbitrary Lines Between High and Low Culture…

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.

This week, with the renewed and ongoing debate between “high” and “low” culture, between “art” and “content”, it seemed like a good time to take a look at one of the more fascinating films to straddle that line. Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth entry in a long-running franchise, a film essentially built around a long car chase and explosions. However it’s also as pure a piece of cinema that has ever been made. It demonstrates the fungibility of those perceived boundaries.

New Escapist Column! On the Fifth Anniversary of “10 Cloverfield Lane”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Because it’s the fifth anniversary of 10 Cloverfield Lane, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the paranoid and claustrophobic thriller. In particular, 10 Cloverfield Lane arrived on the cusp of a wave of similar movies about characters trapped and suffocated in claustrophobic horror: films as diverse as Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room and even Todd Haynes’ Carol.

Looking at these wave of films in hindsight, they suggest something simmering beneath the surface of American consciousness, a nightmare about characters who find themselves in hostile and oppressive environments and forced to survive as best they can. 10 Cloverfield Lane was perhaps the culmination of this cinematic trend, and galvanises many of those themes into a potent allegory for abuse and survival, ending with the revelation that not all of this monstrosity is trapped behind locked doors.

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