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New Escapist Column! On the Timelessness and Timeliness of “Foundation”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of the first two episodes of Foundation on Apple TV+, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Isaac Asimov’s hugely influential science-fiction series.

Foundation casts a long shadow over American science-fiction, its influence felt on projects like Star Wars and Star Trek. However, while it has been adapted as a radio play, the new television show marks the first successful effort to bring the show to screen. What is it that makes Foundation so difficult to adapt? Why has it taken so long for such a foundational text to come to film or television? How is a science-fiction saga that began in the late forties and carried on into the fifties still relevant today?

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

New Escapist Video! On “Shang-Chi” and “Blade” as Homages to Hong Kong Action Cinema…

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 Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the latest Marvel Studios film. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is loosely adapted from the seventies title Master of Kung Fu, and so it seems interesting to discuss the film in the context of another adaptation of a cult non-superhero seventies comic book: Blade.

New Escapist Column! On the Contradictory Generational Conflicts of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is an interesting mess of contradictions. On the one hand, it is a classic story of generational conflict about a son who needs to defeat and vanquish his evil father in order to determine his place in the world – like Star Wars. However, it is also a story about a prodigal son who needs to connect with his roots and let his older relatives provide him with an identity that he cannot determine for himself. It’s a weird juxtaposition that creates an irreconciliable conflict at the heart of the movie.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “The Green Knight” Deconstructs the Hero’s Journey…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of David Lowery’s The Green Knight on streaming, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the director’s reimagining of classic Arthurian legend.

In particular, when is so fascinating about The Green Knight is the way that it takes a very classic and very conventional hero’s journey – the story of a character who embarks upon a quest that makes them better, stronger and wiser before returning home fundamentally changed by the experience – and gradually deconstructs it. Is a hero’s journey alone enough to make Gawain a great man? Can the adventure make him a different person? Is there a checklist of accomplishments that he must complete before he becomes a worthy knight? The Green Knight interrogates and explores these questions.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Candyman” is About Art About Trauma…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Nia DaCosta’s Candyman this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film and the larger franchise.

Much has been written in recent years about the recent explosion of African American horror, and the relationship between that horror and the very real trauma experienced by that community. What’s particularly interesting about Candyman is that the movie is very much engaged with that debate. In an era where so many movies and television shows purport to be “about trauma”, Candyman is explicitly a movie about art about horror, and the thorny questions that stem from that relationship.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Return of the Hollywood Epic…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Green Knight, and the upcoming releases of movies like Dune and The Last Duel, it seems like the old-fashioned Hollywood epic might be making a comeback.

This is interesting, as the genre has long been a Hollywood staple. Most people obviously think of the big biblical epics from the middle of the twentieth-century – Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, Quo Vadis? However, there was an interesting revival at the turn of the millennium with the release of Gladiator and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Hollywood failed to really reignite the genre. However, that failure has not been for lack of trying.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “The Suicide Squad” Deconstructs Amanda Waller…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Suicide Squad, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at one small-but-clever aspect of James Gunn’s superhero sequel.

The character of Amanda Waller is a pop culture archetype. She is an example of the ruthless intelligence operative who will cross whatever line it takes in pursuit of what she believes to be the greater good. Outside of comic books, one need only look at the character of Jack Bauer. Within the modern superhero landscape, the archetype is embodied by Nick Fury. These characters might be edgy or ambiguous, but they are also undeniably cool. Gunn’s approach to Waller in The Suicide Squad is interesting in large part because it rejects that idea of effortless cool in favour of something a lot blunter and more horrific.

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

New Escapist Video! On Why “The Expanse” Was Shut Out of the Emmys…

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 Emmy nominations earlier last month, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at how the awards work. In particular, why they tend to overlook particular shows, despite positive reviews and consistent levels of quality. In particular, whether the institution has a longstanding bias against genre television or if there are other factors at play.

New Escapist Column! On the the Folly of Franchising the Predator…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With news that Dan Trachtenberg’s new Predator film might receive an edit for PG-13, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the difficulty in trying to reshape the iconic eighties movie monster into a modern franchise.

The appeal of the Predator is very simple. It hunts. It’s a concept that is perhaps best suited to a mode of franchising that doesn’t really exist any more, a set of reasonably budgeted sequel films that swap out characters and locations while retaining the core concept. However, modern franchises demand more. They demand world building, mythology, scale, spectacle and a shared universe. There’s something absurd about trying to retroactively apply that to the Predator as a concept.

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

New Escapist Video! On How “Black Widow” Demonstrates the MCU’s Humour Problem…

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 Black Widow earlier in the month, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film. In particular, the use of humour in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general and in Black Widow in particular. In its best moments, the Marvel Cinematic Universe uses humour to enrich and deepen its themes. However, in Black Widow, it undermines them.