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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 7, Episode 2 (“Amor Fati X-tra: The Last Temptation of Mulder”)

With The X-Cast moving on to coverage of the seventh season of The X-Files, I was thrilled to join Kurt North and Marlene Stemme to discuss the seventh season premiere – The Sixth Extinction and The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati – in the context of Martin Scorsese’ The Last Temptation of Christ.

Scorsese’s biblical epic was one of the most controversial major studio releases of the late eighties, attracting death threats and protests for its portrayal of Jesus Christ. It formed the basis for Mulder’s journey in The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati, with the two-parter directly lifting several scenes from the film. It’s interesting to interrogate, in large part because – despite the influence of seventies cinema on The X-Files – it feels like the show’s only real point of intersection with one of the most influential filmmakers of the seventies.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Escapist Column! On the Eternal Battle Between Good and Evil in “Masters of the Universe”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Netflix this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the larger franchise.

The He-Man franchise originated as a toy line from Mattel, obviously taking its cues from a host of contemporary pop culture like Conan the Barbarian and Star Wars. However, the franchise’s origins as a toy rather than a book or a feature film led to an interesting tensions. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a classic epic fantasy about the battle between good and evil, but it is a story without a predetermined origin or ending. Good may win individual battles against evil, but it will never triumph completely. As a result, He-Man presents the struggle of good against evil as eternal and unwinnable, but worth fighting.

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

Non-Review Review: The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones is just about wry enough and smart enough to launch itself snugly into the gap in the “young adult” movie market left by the end of franchises like Twilight or Harry Potter. This franchise-launcher, based on Cassandra Clare’s 2007 novel, is at its best when it’s self-aware, with young starlet Lilly Collins reacting with quiet bemusement to the surreal urban fantasy or Irish supporting actor Robert Sheehan picking holes in the plot.

It’s over-the-top and deliciously campy, but indulgently so. Refusing to merely bask in the clichés of urban fantasy, The Mortal Instruments practically revels in them. Subtext becomes supra-text, twists are shrewdly signposted in a way welcoming to genre aficionados and there’s an endearing sense of pulp to the whole thing. The movie only really suffers when it tries to take things entirely seriously, slowing down for an almost interminable second act and casting the so-wooden-he-should-probably-be-varnished Jamie Campbell Bower as the obligatory “mysterious hunky teenager.”

A cut above?

A cut above?

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Family Guy: Blue Harvest

A long time ago, yet somehow in the future…

The wonderful thing about myths is that they essentially repeat. All the great and epic stories have been told time and time again, from the first cavemen passing the time by a late night fire through to the matinée screening of the latest big budget blockbuster. Each generation creates their own variation of the myth, putting their own spin on it – some parts are given more emphasis in this iteration, while we shy away from others. In writing Star Wars, George Lucas acknowledged his debt to Joseph Campbell, the author who proposed a “monomyth” – the idea that there is one single overarching story which has been told tim and time again. I reckon that it’s this timelessness is the root of the film’s success, and what makes it such a ripe target for Family Guy.

Click to enlarge...

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