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New Irish Independent Column! On Whether “The Last of Us” Can Beat the Video Game Curse…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent last week. With the release of The Last of Us, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the history of video game adaptations.

There’s a lot riding on The Last of Us, and HBO have really gone all-out on the show. It stars Pedro Pascal of The Mandalorian and is written by Craig Mazin of Chernobyl. It’s an interesting approach, in large part because video games have frequently posed a challenge to studios longing to adapt them to other screens. Just based on Hollywood’s experience with the medium, The Last of Us poses a significant challenge to any production team hoping to translate it to another medium.

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

New Irish Independent Column! On James Cameron’s Big Bet on “Avatar: The Way of the Water”…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the looming release of Avatar: The Way of Water, it seemed worth taking a look at James Cameron’s approach to the sequel.

Over the past few years, it has become quite common for critics to argue that Avatar has no cultural footprint, that nobody can remember the names of its leads or it villains. This is interesting, because it offers a very modern conception of a “cultural footprint”, one that makes sense after decades of comic book movies have imprinted characters like Thanos and Doctor Strange on the public consciousness. Cameron isn’t releasing a blockbuster to compete with these films. Instead, he’s hoping that his sequel can make money by appealing to an older ideal of the cinematic experience.

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

New Irish Independent Column! On “Willow” and Disney’s Fantasy Pitch…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Willow on Disney+ this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the show means for the Disney brand, and why it is so important to the company going forward.

The past couple of decades have seen an explosion in fantasy film and television: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. However, studios have quickly discovered that audiences aren’t necessarily enthusiastically engaged with fantasy, struggling to connect with the genres. Studios like Disney have invested millions trying to tap into that audience, with numerous high-profile failures. Willow represents the latest attempt by Disney to craft a live action fantasy universe with a built-in fanbase, and the company is using the same playbook that it did with Star Wars.

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

New Irish Independent Column! On the Rehabilitation of the “Star Wars” Prequels…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi next week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the slow and steady rehabilitation of the Star Wars prequels.

To a certain generation of Star Wars fans, the prequels will always be an abomination. Over the years, the three films have become a punchline to a joke that nobody began, an impression reinforced through popular culture. However, recent years have seen an appreciable shift in how the prequels are portrayed, with fans seeming to come around on the films and Disney seeming to fold them into the larger marketting of the brand. It’s interesting to look at how (and why) that happened.

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

Non-Review Review: The Lodgers

The Lodgers is a beautifully-directed and somewhat muddled gothic horror film.

The Lodgers literally drips with atmosphere, as one might imagine given the combination of writer David Turpin and director Brian O’Malley. Turpin has studied and lectured in English, writing his doctoral thesis on therianthropy. O’Malley directed Let Us Prey, one of the most visually striking and memorable Anglo-Irish horror films of the past couple of years. As such, a gothic horror set against the backdrop of Irish Independence seems very much in keeping with their aesthetics, and it does not disappoint.

The fall of the house of Lodgers.

The Lodgers is a rich piece of work, both in terms of visuals and themes. Like any good horror story, the subtext simmers through the work, O’Malley and Turpin tapping into rich veins of social and political anxiety, often weaving those threads together in a compelling and exciting manner. The Lodgers might be best described as the work of Edgar Allan Poe channeled through a seance with William Butler Yeats. It feels undeniably Irish, rooted in the land and its people.

At the same time, The Lodgers suffers slightly in its own internal mechanics. Like the big house at the centre of the story, the construction is largely sound. However, there is a sense that some upkeep and maintenance might be required. The Lodgers is undercut by a number of key defects including its casting and its dialogue. The Lodgers is visually striking and rich, but it stumbles in some of its more basic elements.

Stairway to heaven.

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